Flora Sykes, a fine arts dealer, is brought in to assess an amazing find. An unopened apartment in Paris filled with antiques and art that haven’t been touched in 70 years. Owned by the wealthy Vermeil family, Flora’s job is to research those antiques and establish provenance. Using this job as an escape from a personal tragedy, Flora immerses herself in the history of this find that includes a rare Renoir. As she gets closer to answers she keeps stumbling upon the brusque Xavier Vermeil the heir to the Vermeil dynasty who seems upset at her involvement, especially when her research turns up a shocking truth that threatens the reputation of his family.
The Paris Secret takes you all over Europe, to London, Paris, New York, and Vienna and the narrator Lucy Price-Lewis does an amazing job moving smoothly from one accent to another. I truly felt like there were multiple people narrating this novel. She did an amazingly seamless job. I’ll definitely be putting her on my must listen list. However, it is the author who deftly wrote a story that I’ve now come across a few times, and made it stand out from the other novels. The Paris Secret did not provide flashbacks as a tool, staying in the 20th Century. An effective tool to show the disparity in wealth that the Vermeil family had and the power that wealth has given them over time. A power that in part came from their love of art.
As Flora was distracting herself with this amazingly interesting find in Paris, her family was going through something powerfully emotional. The author chose to keep the reader in the dark through a great portion of the book only revealing her family secret when it made sense in moving the plot emotionally forward. Her investigation and her own secret rode parallel to each other in the story creating an explosive conflict in the story between she and Xavier. I’ll admit their attraction was confusing, tense, and mysterious. The narration was so, so good, I eagerly anticipated every word.
As there have been a few of these secret Paris apartment stories in the last 5-6 years, I’m sure you can guess the provenance of where the art came from, but as I said above, the way Karen Swan delivered this information, keeping the story contemporary and current, was a different take on the story that I really enjoyed. I also loved the tension-filled scenes between Flora and Xavier, as well as Flora’s investigation across the European continent. She was a strong, intelligent heroine, and I really liked her. I highly recommend this novel and if you have the time please try the audiobook. Lucy Price-Lewis did an amazing job and made me want to travel to France again sometime soon. Ooh-La-La!
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