The Paris Secret
by Karen Swan
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 14, 2017)
In this glittering tale of forgotten treasures and long-held secrets, international bestseller Karen Swan explores one woman’s journey to discovering the truth behind an abandoned apartment and a family whose mysteries may be better left undiscovered.
When high-powered fine art agent Flora Sykes is called in to assess objets d’art in a Paris apartment that has been abandoned since WWII, she is skeptical at first—until she discovers that the treasure trove of paintings is myriad…and priceless. The powerful Vermeil family to whom they belong is eager to learn more and asks Flora to trace the history of each painting.
Despite a shocking announcement that has left her own family reeling, Flora finds herself thrown into the glamorous world of the Vermeils. But she soon realizes there is more to this project than first appears. As she researches the provenance of their prize Renoir, she uncovers a scandal surrounding the painting—and a secret that goes to the very heart of the family. The fallout will place Flora in the eye of a storm that carries her from London to Vienna to the glittering coast of Provence.
Xavier Vermeil, the brusque scion of the family, is determined to separate Flora from his family’s affairs in spite of their powerful attraction to one another. Just what are the secrets he is desperately trying to hide? And what price is Flora willing to pay to uncover the devastating truth…?
“The Paris Secret had me from the moment I started reading. Filled with a smart and sympathetic protagonist, a touch of romance, a smidgen of history, plenty of intrigue and suspense galore.”—Diane Chamberlain, internationally bestselling author of The Midwife’s Confession
She could feel the lives that had once pulsed here, the social gaiety that must have been enjoyed in this very room before the horrors of war and then the enduring silence afterwards.
The neglected apartment reclaimed at long last. The past was stirring and shaking off the dust. The neighbours would soon know, then the city, until finally, when the sale was announced, the entire world. After seventy-three years of silence, the secret was finally slipping out.
He ran his hands through his hair, pulling so tight at the roots he gave himself a momentary facelift.
Flora was seated next to Sylvie, a seventy-six-year-old woman with the skin of a baby who proceeded to regale Flora with merry tales of her widowhood and, in particular, her current torrid affair with the butcher.
Despite taking the required Art Appreciation courses in college, what I have actually retained and know about fine art could fit on a Post-it note, and the same could be said about French geography. So the in-depth analysis of various works of art and masters’ techniques were rather lost on me, although I did employ my good friend Mr. Google a few times for an assist. I was unaware until reaching the acknowledgments that the germination of the book was sparked by a news item of found art and “painfully true events.” The Paris Secret was my first experience reading Karen Swan’s skillful word-craft, although having a taste of her talent I now plan to follow her like a disciple. I was engaged by the premise and intriguing storylines but was captivated by her fluid writing style, cleverly tantalizing pace, and profoundly vivid descriptions. I was continually taken with her agile and sly deployment of unusual and unexpected items that were seemingly peripheral or inconsequential to the scene, yet were intricately detailed in such a vibrant manner that never failed to pluck at my curiosity or heighten my amusement and pleasure. However, I was conflicted with the integrity of these rather contemptible characters as very few of them displayed admirable qualities, and I was looking hard hoping to find some, but thankfully that problem resolved during the final two chapters with several clever plot twists that caused me to blink and paved the way for a highly satisfying conclusion. Sigh, Karen Swan has stealthy ninja writing skills… more, please. I was provided with a review copy of this well-crafted book by HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.
Karen Swan worked as a fashion editor before moving into writing fiction. She is married with three children and lives in the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the South Downs. She is the author of the novels The Summer Without You, Christmas at Claridges, and The Perfect Present.