Since its construction for the 1889 world's fair, la tour Eiffel has become the universal symbol of Paris: slender, elegant, iconic--both a feat of engineering and a distinctive silhouette rising 324 meters above the Seine. It is difficult for visitors--or anyone who has ever seen a photo of the city--to imagine the Parisian skyline without it. But the tower, originally intended to stand for only 20 years, sparked criticism and controversy among the artistic and engineering elite of Paris. In her second novel to be published in the U.S., To Capture What We Cannot Keep, Beatrice Colin weaves together the story of the tower's daring construction with the personal life of Eiffel's right-hand man, Émile Nouguier, and the Scotswoman with whom he falls in love.
Widowed, penniless and growing rather desperate, Caitriona "Cait" Wallace gratefully accepts a position as a paid companion to two young people, Alice Arrol and her brother, Jamie, who are heading to Paris on their Grand Tour in 1887. Eager and bright but rather provincial, Alice hopes to find a husband among the dashing French messieurs, while Jamie is more interested in the delights of the city's gambling houses and brothels. On a cold February day, Cait meets Émile Nouguier on a hot-air balloon ride while steeling herself against her fear of heights, and her destiny, along with that of her young charges, becomes increasi