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The Beautiful by [Renée Ahdieh]

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The Beautiful Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,161 ratings

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About the Author

Renée Ahdieh is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs, and college basketball. The first few years of her life were spent in a high-rise in South Korea; consequently, Renée enjoys having her head in the clouds. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog. She is the author of Flame in the Mist and Smoke in the Sun as well as the #1 New York Times bestselling The Wrath and the Dawn and its sequel, The Rose and the Dagger. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1st février, 1872
aboard the CGT Aramis

Not What It Seemed

The Aramis was supposed to arrive at first light, like it did in Celine’s dreams.
 
She would wake beneath a sunlit sky, the brine of the ocean winding through her nose, the city looming bright on the horizon.
 
Filled with promise. And absolution.
 
Instead the brass bell on the bow of the Aramis tolled in the twilight hour, the time of day her friend Pippa called “the gloaming.” It was—in Celine’s mind—a very British thing to say.
 
She’d begun collecting these phrases not long after she’d met Pippa four weeks ago, when the Aramis had docked for two days in Liverpool. Her favorite so far was “not bloody likely.” Celine didn’t know why they mattered to her at the time. Perhaps it was because she thought Very British Things would serve her better in America than the Very French Things she was apt to say.
 
The moment Celine heard the bell clang, she made her way portside, Pippa’s light footsteps trailing in her wake. Inky tendrils of darkness fanned out across the sky, a ghostly mist shrouding the Crescent City. The air thickened as the two girls listened to the Aramis sluice through the waters of the Mississippi, drawing closer to New Orleans. Farther from the lives they’d left behind.
 
Pippa sniffed and rubbed her nose. In that instant, she looked younger than her sixteen years. “For all the stories, it’s not as pretty as I thought it would be.”
 
“It’s exactly what I thought it would be,” Celine said in a reassuring tone.
 
“Don’t lie.” Pippa glanced at her sidelong. “It won’t make me feel better.”
 
A smile curled up Celine’s face. “Maybe I’m lying for me as much as I’m lying for you.”
 
“In any case, lying is a sin.”
 
“So is being obnoxious.”
 
“That’s not in the Bible.”
 
“But it should be.”
 
Pippa coughed, trying to mask her amusement. “You’re terrible. The sisters at the Ursuline convent won’t know what to do with you.”
 
“They’ll do the same thing they do with every unmarried girl who disembarks in New Orleans, carrying with her all her worldly possessions: they’ll find me a husband.” Celine refrained from frowning. This had been her choice. The best of the worst.
 
“If you strike them as ungodly, they’ll match you with the ugliest fool in Christendom. Definitely someone with a bulbous nose and a paunch.”
 
“Better an ugly man than a boring one. And a paunch means he eats well, so . . .” Celine canted her head to one side.
 
“Really, Celine.” Pippa laughed, her Yorkshire accent weaving through the words like fine Chantilly lace. “You’re the most incorrigible French girl I’ve ever met.”
 
Celine smiled at her friend. “I’d wager you haven’t met many French girls.”
 
“At least not ones who speak English as well as you do. As if you were born to it.”
 
“My father thought it was important for me to learn.” Celine lifted one shoulder, as though this were the whole of it, instead of barely half. At the mention of her father—a staid Frenchman who’d studied linguistics at Oxford—a shadow threatened to descend. A sadness with a weight Celine could not yet bear. She fixed a wry grin on her face.
 
Pippa crossed her arms as though she were hugging herself. Worry gathered beneath the fringe of blond on her forehead as the two girls continued studying the city in the distance. Every young woman on board had heard the whispered accounts. At sea, the myths they’d shared over cups of gritty, bitter coffee had taken on lives of their own. They’d blended with the stories of the Old World to form richer, darker tales. New Orleans was haunted. Cursed by pirates. Prowled by scalawags. A last refuge for those who believed in magic and mysticism. Why, there was even talk of women possessing as much power and influence as that of any man.
 
Celine had laughed at this. As she’d dared to hope. Perhaps New Orleans was not what it seemed, at first glance. Fittingly, neither was she.
 
And if anything could be said about the young travelers aboard the Aramis, it was that the possibility of magic like this—a world like this—had become a vital thing. Especially for those who wished to shed the specter of their pasts. To become something better and brighter.
 
And especially for those who wanted to escape.
 
Pippa and Celine watched as they drew closer to the unknown. To their futures.
 
“I’m frightened,” Pippa said softly.
 
Celine did not respond. Night had seeped through the water, like a dark stain across organza. A scraggly sailor balanced along a wooden beam with all the grace of an aerialist while lighting a lamp on the ship’s prow. As if in response, tongues of fire leapt to life across the water, rendering the city in even more ghoulishly green tones.
 
The bell of the Aramis pealed once more, telling those along the port how far the ship had left to travel. Other passengers made their way from below deck, coming to stand alongside Celine and Pippa, muttering in Portuguese and Spanish, English and French, German and Dutch. Young women who’d taken leaps of faith and left their homelands for new opportunities. Their words melted into a soft cacophony of sound that would—under normal circumstances—soothe Celine.
 
Not anymore.
 
Ever since that fateful night amid the silks in the atelier, Celine had longed for comfortable silence. It had been weeks since she’d felt safe in the presence of others. Safe with the riot of her own thoughts. The closest she’d ever come to wading through calmer waters had been in the presence of Pippa.
 
When the ship drew near enough to dock, Pippa took sudden hold of Celine’s wrist, as though to steel herself. Celine gasped. Flinched at the unexpected touch. Like a spray of blood had shot across her face, the salt of it staining her lips.
 
“Celine?” Pippa asked, her blue eyes wide. “What’s wrong?”
 
Breathing through her nose to steady her pulse, Celine wrapped both hands around Pippa’s cold fingers. “I’m frightened, too.” --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • ASIN : B07THR7F9R
  • Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton (8 October 2019)
  • Language : English
  • File size : 1347 KB
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Enabled
  • Word Wise : Not Enabled
  • Print length : 450 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN : 1524738174
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,161 ratings

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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1,161 global ratings
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Top reviews from India

Reviewed in India on 4 October 2020
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Reviewed in India on 17 October 2019
2 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in India on 26 July 2020

Top reviews from other countries

Kayleigh
3.0 out of 5 stars An okay read, but weak in parts
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 5 April 2020
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2 people found this helpful
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Charlotte Watkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Dangerous, Brutal & Alluring - Everything That A Vampire Story Should Be
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 February 2021
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N. Battley
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 4 September 2020
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4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 4 September 2020
This was an enjoyable read. Celine was an interesting character and I liked her fire and determination. I was a little worried at times that she might turn into a swooning heroine but thankfully Celine proved herself more than capable of handling herself.
I loved the description of the Court although not much was made explicit so there is certainly more to learn in this regard.
My only real issue was, as others have mentioned, why the story was set in New Orleans. It felt strange because to me, I never really got a sense of the location. It felt very generic. And despite the fact that the author told us it was New Orleans, I found myself picturing something that looked more like 19th century London.
In regards to the plot, it was actually a great mystery. I really found myself wondering who the murderer was and who the overarching villain was going to be. I’m happy to say that I did not guess either correctly and the story really kept me on my toes. I love a thriller and this had real suspense throughout.
A solid start to the series and I will almost certainly read the next to see how the story unfolds.
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Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good start
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 October 2019
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One person found this helpful
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Darlene
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 5 May 2021
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