I considered calling this post something much more French that indicates a relationship between three things, but I thought I might be setting myself up for a whole lot of unwanted spam (ahem). I’ve not been very good about posting for Paris in July, but for once I actually did read almost all of the books I had planned for this month. The two below both feature Paris as the main setting, although during three different time periods. I read these two back to back and really enjoyed getting in the Parisian mood.
Honeymoon in Paris by Jojo Moyes
Length: 75 pages
From the publisher:
At the heart of Jojo Moyes’ heartbreaking new novel, The Girl You Left Behind, are two haunting love stories – that of Sophie and Edouard Lefevre in France during the First World War, and, nearly a century later, Liv Halston and her husband David.
Honeymoon in Paris takes place several years before the events to come in The Girl You Left Behind when both couples have just married. Sophie, a provincial girl, is swept up in the glamour of Belle poque Paris but discovers that loving a feted artist like Edouard brings undreamt of complications. Following in Sophie’s footsteps a hundred years later, Liv, after a whirlwind romance, finds her Parisian honeymoon is not quite the romantic getaway she had been hoping for…
Here’s what I thought:
This is a prequel novella to Jojo Moyes’ upcoming The Girl You Left Behind, which I’m hoping to be able to read soon. It sets up the stories of Sophie and Edouard in WWI Paris and Liv and David in modern day Paris. I enjoyed the writing and thought it was a great ‘teaser’ to get the reader interested in the upcoming book, although I found that Liz and David’s storyline fell a bit flat. The more interesting part of the book dealt with the characters of Sophie and Edouard, and I definitely want to know more about them and what happens in their lives. Of the two views of Paris, I also preferred the historical setting, and I look forward to learning more about Paris during this time.
The Bones of Paris by Laurie King
Length: 432 pages
From the publisher:
Paris, France: September 1929. For Harris Stuyvesant, the assignment is a private investigator’s dream—he’s getting paid to troll the cafés and bars of Montparnasse, looking for a pretty young woman. The American agent has a healthy appreciation for la vie de bohème, despite having worked for years at the U.S. Bureau of Investigation. The missing person in question is Philippa Crosby, a twenty-two year old from Boston who has been living in Paris, modeling and acting. Her family became alarmed when she stopped all communications, and Stuyvesant agreed to track her down. He wholly expects to find her in the arms of some up-and-coming artist, perhaps experimenting with the decadent lifestyle that is suddenly available on every rue and boulevard.
As Stuyvesant follows Philippa’s trail through the expatriate community of artists and writers, he finds that she is known to many of its famous—and infamous—inhabitants, from Shakespeare and Company’s Sylvia Beach to Ernest Hemingway to the Surrealist photographer Man Ray. But when the evidence leads Stuyvesant to the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol in Montmartre, his investigation takes a sharp, disturbing turn. At the Grand-Guignol, murder, insanity, and sexual perversion are all staged to shocking, brutal effect: depravity as art, savage human nature on stage.
Soon it becomes clear that one missing girl is a drop in the bucket. Here, amid the glittering lights of the cabarets, hides a monster whose artistic coup de grâce is to be rendered in blood. And Stuyvesant will have to descend into the darkest depths of perversion to find a killer . . . sifting through The Bones of Paris.
Here’s what I thought:
I’d never read anything by King before, and I really enjoyed her writing style and, especially, the setting of 1920’s Paris and the artistic scene. The main character of Harris Stuyvesant is a bit of an cliché–the hard living detective with a heart–but the plot was fast-paced and easy to follow, albeit with a few too many détours into bars and clubs with very little result. There are lots of generic female characters (I lost track of all the 20-something blonds) but the female character of Sarah was an interesting one, and I wish that I had read the previous book in the series (Touchstone) to have understood her backstory a bit better.
The mystery itself is not too difficult to unravel, but the events that happen along the way shed light on a side of 1920’s Paris that I didn’t know anything about–that of the Surrealists and the more avant-garde forms of artistic expression. The connection between the recent history of WWI and the art that was produced as a result was interesting if a bit disturbing. I found myself looking up names of people and places to learn more.
This was a fascinating read from a cultural point of view, and I’m definitely going to look for more of King’s mysteries. Recommended.
Thanks so much to NetGalley and the respective publishers for providing me with a copy of these books.
Buy The Bones of Paris from The Book Depository*