I received a galley of this novel from Galley Grab for review. This in no way affected my opinions.
The real story goes: Émilie du Châtelet gives birth, at age 42, to a daughter. Six days later she dies unexpectedly. Records show that her daughter didn't live to see her second birthday.
However, Laurel Corona writes the story of Émilie's daughter as though she did live beyond the age of two. It's the story of a little girl who has no mother and has a father that never wants to see her. Lili lives with her mother's friend Julie de Bercy and her daughter Delphine, who is the same age as Lili.
Unbeknownst to her, Lili is a lot like the mother she never knew. As she grows up, Lili becomes more resistant to the expectations of a young woman of the time. While young women were groomed for marriage, Lili preferred to learn and discover new things. And as for marriage: Lili prefers to wait for love.
Through her childhood and into adulthood, Lili expresses her thoughts and worries through writing a story starring a charcter called Meadowlark. Through Finding Emilie we see bits of the fascinating fantasy story Lili is writing. By reading the characters that Lili creates, we see how Lili truly views the world, frustrations and all.
In Finding Emilie there are also small chapters dedicated to Émilie herself. We see into her brilliant mind and discover the true connection between mother and daughter.
I really loved Finding Emilie. 18th century France came beautifully alive. Lili was a fascinating character. I loved how she thought for herself and took control of her own life. And when she truly 'meets' her mother, by looking through the rooms she once occupied, Lili realizes that something has come over her. It is as though her mother is helping her decide what she needs to do to live life for herself and to be happy.
And something neat: at the end of Finding Emilie are the complete Meadowlark stories that we see bits of throughout the book.