Book Tour Review: Mireille by Molly Cochran

Friday, June 19, 2015
Title: Mireille
Author: Molly Cochran
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/A

Pages: 573
Published: June 9 2015
Source: TLC Book Tours for review
Rating: 3/5

Near the end of World War II, seventeen-year-old Mireille de Jouarre flees the home of her stepfather, a Nazi collaborator and abusive drunk. She finds shelter with her childhood friend Stefan, and the two fall deeply in love. But as the fighting escalates, Mireille must escape alone to Paris, where she discovers she’s pregnant and lacking a way to provide for her child.

So begins her new life as l’Ange—the Angel. After an unlikely meeting with a wealthy aristocrat in a Parisian hotel—and her acceptance of his solicitation—Mireille becomes the most celebrated poule in all of France, eliciting huge fees and invitations to exclusive parties. At one of these events, Mireille meets Oliver Jordan, an American womanizer and film producer, and is soon launching a promising film career. As her star rises, Mireille is determined to bury her past. But her success isn’t as carefree and glittery as it seems, and when her daughter’s future is threatened, Mireille must make a deadly decision in a desperate attempt to finally choose her own path.

Sprawling and epic, Molly Cochran's historical fiction novel pivots on the unlikely and lengthy tale of Mireille Orlande de Jouarre. It's dramatic and outlandish, strains credulity and yet somehow, either due to character charisma or through sheer momentum, never strays into "too much" territory. If you liked the dramatic flair and urgency of Jennifer Donnelly's Tea Rose series a few years ago, Mireille is a story much in the same historical vein. Through a few missteps and an engaging plot, Molly Cochran's take on a rags-to-riches story set against some of most dramatic backdrops in history makes for interesting reading.

With her adult novel, Cochran has graduated from her YA roots. Her themes here are darker, her plots less linear and more open to moral ambiguity, her characters more complex. There are a lot of subplots and themes that creep up over the almost six hundred pages of Mireille: Nazism, star crossed love, abuse, prostitution, obsession, teenage pregnancy, control -- to name a few. When I say reading Mireille can strain credulity, I mean this overabundance. With so much going on, so many balls in the air, even with the hundreds of pages Mireille has to work with, not all of it can be pulled o satisfactorily or even injected into the storyline naturally.

Mireille, the main character and nexus that pulls everything together, is capable. Her gifts may verge on the ridiculous (she is the most beautiful, always, no matter what has happened or where she is, etc. etc.) but there is charisma to her as well. You want to root for Mireille as she suffers setback after setback and still just does not give up. Her choices are hard and often not easy, but she's an interesting character and she's unpredictable. She's a survivor, and she demands respect, often on her terms. I can't say I connected with any other character to any degree, or was even as interested in them as I was Mireille (exception: Barbara) which is why I wanted more personality from the secondary cast.

Mireille is a long, detailed, character-driven book, but for the right kind of reader, it is absolutely the right book. If you're drawn to dramatic and exciting plots where women succeed against odds (though not infallibly) Mireille is likely the next book for you. The plot can hinge on either exceedingly lucky or unlikely happenstance, but the merits outweigh the issues for me.

Molly Cochran’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, June 8th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, June 9th: Built By Story
Thursday, June 11th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, June 15th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, June 16th: Life is Story
Wednesday, June 17th: 100 Pages a Day
Thursday, June 18th: Book Lovin’ Hippo
Friday, June 19th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Monday, June 22nd: From the TBR Pile
Monday, June 22nd: The World As I See It
Tuesday, June 23rd: A Literary Vacation
Wednesday, June 24th: Bell, Book & Candle
Thursday, June 25th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Friday, June 26th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Monday, June 29th: The Avid Reader
Tuesday, June 30th: Life By Kristen

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