Wednesday 25 July 2018

The Paris Secret by Karen Swan

Flora Sykes is an art agent. She lives in London. So does her brother, Freddie, and her aging parents. But her job takes her Paris, where an apartment, locked up since WWII, is revealed as belonging to her clients - the Vermeil family, and with which she is tasked to go through, particularly the art, checking its provenance, so it can be sold.

The family, including 'tense and brooding Xavier' (doesn't that give you a hint about what is going to happen in terms of relationships and is yet another reason I don't read blurbs?) becomes more anxious as 'provenance' reveals so much more than art ownership. That apartment was locked up during WWII, remember.

I'm not going into more details here, but the plotting was quite deftly done, and well constructed - even though it took me forever to get into it. I don't mind a few tantalising secrets and surprise set-ups to draw me in to a book, but here there were so many untold truths, and chapters ending just before big reveals, that it felt a bit tacky - soap opera-ish, if you will.

The art and Paris were beautifully described, and the style of writing was more show than tell. The romantic aspect was a little tacky, but I suppose combining history, romance, mystery and suspense in a single book of around 400 pages is an enormous task. What I especially liked was that the author didn't flip between the two timelines (war and present) to tell the story,which kept things moving nicely ahead. And when all was said and done, it worked - saved by the clever plotting, likeable characters and Paris, of course. 

A very enjoyable few afternoons.

3 stars

ISBN: 9781447280293

You may also enjoy  Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, or what about The Alice Network by Kate Quinn?

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