Taking a bit of a mystery and bringing it to light, Karen Swan returns to the blog today with this story about stolen/hidden art stashed in an apartment in Paris. Please read on for my review of
The Paris Secret
A few years ago now, I remember a story about the ‘opening’ of an apartment in Paris after the owner’s death – and the treasure trove found within: paintings, jewelry, sculpture, antique furniture, etc. Much was made of the find – and while I don’t remember how much (if any) of the pieces were reputed to be stolen during World War II, the facts relating to art and valuable cultural treasures and personal items during that time has always fascinated me. Karen Swan manages to use that original premise in this book, bringing us an art agent in Flora, brought in to evaluate, value and arrange the sale of an apartment full of items hidden since the war. Set mostly in Paris – the story manages to touch on art and the search for provenance, the secrets that arise when priceless masters suddenly appear, and the general upheaval that threatens as Flora digs deeper into the history of these artworks.
Mixed into this are two additional sideplots: Flora’s own life that exists for her career and her own family – no time for romance or herself, and she’s concerned about her brother Freddy who seems “off”, and the questions surrounding the Vermeil family, the owners of the apartment and in particular, the rather odd ‘romance’ as Xavier works to push Flora in directions of his choosing rather than where the answers lead her. By far, the thread that focused on Flora and her investigations to discover how the paintings came to the family, what path they took, and even if they have a claim to ‘honest’ ownership. From descriptions of art to the multiple sources used to find the path the paintings traveled, and even the perspective brought to the story with the insertion of information from the war era – these moments kept me intrigued. Swan’s writing is solid and lyrical, and the mystery thread is solidly presented. However, the other threads were less well executed: the romance between Flora and Xavier felt superfluous as did the story of Freddy – neither truly added any dimension or depth to the story, and for me, Xavier did come off more spoilt rich boy than love interest: always seeming to be overthinking his approach.
A solid book that is notable for the art and the work of Flora as she seeks to verify provenance as well as the uncovering of other secrets hidden since the war or before – even having an effect on people of the day.
Title: The Paris Secret
Author: Karen Swan
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Mystery Elements, Setting: France
Published by: William Morrow
Published on: 14 November, 2017
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 12 Hours
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Somewhere along the cobbled streets of Paris, an apartment lies thick with dust and secrets: full of priceless artworks hidden away for decades.
High-flying Fine Art Agent Flora from London, more comfortable with the tension of a million-pound auction than a cosy candlelit dinner for two, is called in to asses these suddenly discovered treasures. As an expert in her field, she must trace the history of each painting and just who has concealed them for so long.
Thrown in amongst the glamorous Vermeil family as they move between Paris and Antibes, Flora begins to discover that things aren't all that they seem, while back at home her own family is recoiling from a seismic shock. The terse and brooding Xavier Vermeil seems intent on forcing Flora out of his family's affairs - but just what is he hiding?
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: