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Secrets of Paris: A Novel [NOOK Book]


Lydie McBride has always embraced life to the fullest. But when an unthinkable tragedy strikes her family, everything she believes in is shattered. Her architect husband, Michael, watches the passion disappear from Lydie’s eyes and from their marriage, and hopes that an assignment to Paris will help them reclaim a love that once seemed unassailable. But the City of Lights holds secrets and seductions for them both. As Michael pursues his design project at the Louvre—and falls into the orbit of a mysterious, ...
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Secrets of Paris: A Novel

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Lydie McBride has always embraced life to the fullest. But when an unthinkable tragedy strikes her family, everything she believes in is shattered. Her architect husband, Michael, watches the passion disappear from Lydie’s eyes and from their marriage, and hopes that an assignment to Paris will help them reclaim a love that once seemed unassailable. But the City of Lights holds secrets and seductions for them both. As Michael pursues his design project at the Louvre—and falls into the orbit of a mysterious, alluring Frenchwoman—Lydie finds new inspiration for her work as a photo and art stylist and begins a friendship with two dramatically different women that will enable her to find a new life. Will there be a place for the man with whom she always wanted to share that life . . . if she can find him again?
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Passion and friendship get equal billing in this entertaining love story, shaded with dark undertones, from the author of Crazy in Love. Lydie McBride, a photographer's stylist, and her architect husband Michael move to Paris while Michael, on a cultural exchange program, redesigns a room in the Louvre. Lydie is still reeling from the shock of her father's recent death in a murder-suicide with the young woman who was his lover. As Lydie is befriended by sophisticated Patrice d'Origny, a young Bostonian married to the owner of a fashionable jewelry store, Michael begins an affair with an eccentric French biographer who is engrossed in her 17th-century subject, Mme de Sevigne. Asked to design the new d'Origny catalogue, Lydie decides to stage a ball in a nearby chateau. While working on their separate projects, she and Michael try to determine whether their once wholehearted love can be recovered. Lively and appealing characters--notably Lydie herself--the Paris setting and themes of betrayal and forgiveness distinguish this spirited romance. (June)
Library Journal
Once again Rice ( Crazy in Love, LJ 9/1/88; Stone Heart, LJ 4/15/90) weaves a tale of modern-day life that's hard to put down. This time the heroine is Lydie McBridge and the setting is Paris. Lydie is trying to come to grips with a family tragedy while spending a year in Paris with her husband Michael. While Lydie is developing a friendship with American Patrice d'Origny, Michael is drawn into an affair with a French coworker. Michael's betrayal rocks the marriage, and Lydie is forced to examine her feelings about her family and her marriage while virtually separated from both in Paris. This is a novel of friendship, love, and betrayal that lets you into the minds of all the participants. It is one of those books that you don't want to end because you want to know what happens to all of the people in it. Highly recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/91.--Kathy Ingels Helmond, Indiana Univ./ Purdue Univ. at Indianapolis Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553908176
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/25/2011
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 85,959
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Luanne Rice
Luanne Rice is the author of The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners, The Geometry of Sisters, Last Kiss, Light of the Moon, What Matters Most, The Edge of Winter, Sandcastles, Summer of Roses, Summer’s Child, Silver Bells, Beach Girls, and many other New York Times bestsellers. She lives in New York City and Old Lyme, Connecticut.

From the Paperback edition.


Luanne Rice is the New York Times- bestselling author who has inspired the devotion of readers everywhere with her moving novels of love and family. She has been hailed by critics for her unique gifts, which have been described as "a beautiful blend of love and humor, with a little magic thrown in."

Rice began her writing career in 1985 with her debut novel Angels All Over Town. Since then, she has gone on to pen a string of heartwarming bestsellers. Several of her books have been adapted for television, including Crazy in Love, Blue Moon, Follow the Stars Home, and Beach Girls.

Rice was born in New Britain, Connecticut, where her father sold typewriters and her mother, a writer and artist, taught English. Throughout her childhood, Rice spent winters in New Britain and summers by Long Island Sound in Old Lyme, where her mother would hold writing workshops for local children. Rice's talent emerged at a very young age, and her first short story was published in American Girl Magazinewhen she was 15.

Rice later attended Connecticut College, but dropped out when her father became very ill. At this point, she knew she wanted to be a writer. Instead of returning to college, Rice took on many odd jobs, including working as a cook and maid for an exalted Rhode Island family, as well as fishing on a scallop boat during winter storms. These life experiences not only cultivated the author's love and talent for writing, but shaped the common backdrops in her novels of family and relationships on the Eastern seaboard. A true storyteller with a unique ability to combine realism and romance, Rice continues to enthrall readers with her luminous stories of life's triumphs and challenges.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Luanne:

"I take guitar lessons."

  • "I was queen of the junior prom. Voted in, according to one high school friend I saw recently, as a joke because my date and I were so shy, everyone thought it would be hilarious to see us onstage with crowns on our heads. It was 1972, and the theme of the prom was Color My World. For some reason I told my guitar teacher that story, and he said Yeah, color my world with goat's blood."

  • "I shared a room with both sisters when we were little, and I felt sorry for kids who had their own rooms."

  • "To support myself while writing in the early days, I worked as a maid and cook in one of the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. I'd learned to love to cook in high school, by taking French cooking from Sister Denise at the convent next door to the school. The family I worked for didn't like French cooking and preferred broiled meat, well done, and frozen vegetables. They were particular about the brand—they liked the kind with the enclosed sauce packet. My grandmother Mim, who'd always lived with us, had taken the ferry from Providence to Newport every weekend during her years working at the hosiery factory, so being in that city made me feel connected to her."

  • "I lived in Paris. The apartment was in the Eighth Arrondissement. Every morning I'd take my dog for a walk to buy the International Herald Tribune and have coffee at a café around the corner. Then I'd go upstairs to the top floor, where I'd converted one of the old servant's rooms into a writing room, and write. For breaks I'd walk along the Seine and study my French lesson. Days of museums, salons du thé, and wandering the city. Living in another country gave me a different perspective on the world. I'm glad I realized there's not just one way to see things.

    While living there, I found out my mother had a brain tumor. She came to Paris to stay with me and have chemotherapy at the American Hospital. She'd never been on a plane before that trip. In spite of her illness, she loved seeing Paris. I took her to London for a week, and as a teacher of English and a lover of Dickens, that was her high point.

    After she died, I returned to France and made a pilgrimage to the Camargue, in the South. It is a mystical landscape of marsh grass, wild bulls, and white horses. It is home to one of the largest nature sanctuaries in the world, and I saw countless species of birds. The town of Stes. Maries de la Mer is inspiring beyond words. Different cultures visit the mysterious Saint Sarah, and the presence of the faithful at the edge of the sea made me feel part of something huge and eternal. And all of it inspired my novel Light of the Moon."

  • "I dedicated a book to Bruce Springsteen. It's The Secret Hour, which at first glance isn't a novel you'd connect with him—the novel is about a woman whose sister might or might not have been taken by a serial killer. I wrote it during a time when I felt under siege, and I used those deeply personal feelings for my fiction. Bruce was touring and I was attending his shows with a good friend. The music and band and Bruce and my friend made me feel somehow accompanied and lightened as I went through that time and reached into those dark places.

    During that period I also wrote two linked books—Summer's Childand Summer of Roses. They deal with the harsh reality of domestic violence and follow The Secret Hour and The Perfect Summer When I look back at those books, that time of my life, I see myself as a brave person. Instead of hiding from painful truths, I tried to explore and bring them to the light through my fiction. During that period, I met amazing women and became involved with trying to help families affected by abuse—in particular, a group near my small town in Connecticut, and Deborah Epstein's domestic violence clinic at Georgetown University Law Center. I learned that emotional abuse leaves no overt outward scars, but wounds deeply, in ways that take a long time to heal. A counselor recommended The Verbally Abusive Relationshipby Patricia Evans. It is life-changing, and I have given it to many women over the years."

  • "I became a vegetarian. I decided that, having been affected by brutality, I wanted only gentleness and peace in my life. Having experienced fear, I knew I could never willingly inflict harm or fear on another creature. All is related. A friend reminds me of a great quote in the Zen tradition: "How you do anything is how you do everything."
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      1. Date of Birth:
        September 25, 1955
      2. Place of Birth:
        New Britain, CT

    Read an Excerpt


    What I am about to communicate to you is the most astonishing thing, the most surprising, most triumphant, most baffling, most unheard of, most singular, most unbelievable, most unforeseen, biggest, tiniest, rarest, commonest, the most talked about, the most secret up to this day, the most enviable, in fact a thing of which only one example can be found in past ages, and, moreover, that example is a false one; a thing nobody can believe in Paris (how could anyone believe it in Lyons?).

    —From Madame de Sévigné to Coulanges, December 1672

    Lydie McBride occupied a café table in the Jardin du Palais Royal and thought how fine it was to be an American woman in Paris at the end of the twentieth century. The sun warmed her arms. People strolled along the dry paths, and the silvery dust mingled with the smell of strong coffee. It was one of the first hot spring days. Then something happened—cups clattered on the waiter’s tray, or the breeze shifted, and Lydie thought of home. She felt a keen hankering for it: for her family, for her block in New York City, for the racetrack, for strangers speaking English. “May I borrow your sugar?” someone asked in a low voice.

    Lydie jumped. She had just been longing so hard to hear the English language, she wondered for an instant whether she had conjured the sound out of the May air. But then she regained her composure. “Of course,” she said, passing the china bowl to the woman at the next table. She watched her, a tall woman Lydie’s age with dark hair twisted into a chignon, stir two sugar cubes into her coffee. This woman wore red lipstick perfectly; her eyes were hidden behind big sunglasses. Lydie, who never wore much makeup and had the sort of flyaway red hair that always looked uncombed, had the impression of much gold jewelry.

    “I need some quick energy,” the woman explained. “I just had a fitting at Chanel—an experience that never fails to take the heart out of me.”

    Lydie smiled at the way she made shopping at Chanel sound like torture—somehow Lydie knew that she lived here.

    “What brings you to Paris?” the woman asked.

    Lydie hesitated, trying to formulate the short version of a complicated answer. “Well, for work. Michael—my husband—is an architect. He’s working on the Louvre, part of an exchange program. And I’m a stylist.”

    “A stylist? As in hair?”

    Lydie laughed. “No, I work with photographers, doing pieces for magazines and catalogues. I set up the shots. The editor tells me what he wants in a photo layout, and it’s my job to get all the props.”

    “I think my husband uses stylists,” the woman said. “He’s in the jewelry business.”

    “Yes,” Lydie said, nodding. “I work with jewelers a lot. He’s French?”

    “Yes, but we met in America . . .” The woman trailed off, as if she thought the conversation was going on too long or growing too intimate. “I’ll tell you something,” she said. “I met my husband one day, he took me to Guadeloupe the next weekend, and then I enrolled in Berlitz, and then he asked me to marry him. You’ll think I’m crazy, but it all took place in less than five weeks. The French understand, but Americans never do.”

    Lydie leaned forward, and she captured the moment, sure as a photograph: the way the sun struck the woman’s hair, the blaze of primroses in a jardiniere behind her head, Richelieu’s palace casting a shadow on the garden. “I don’t think that’s crazy,” Lydie said. “I believe in love at first sight.”

    “Well,” the woman said. She checked her watch, a tiny gold one with Chinese figures instead of numerals. Then she looked at the sky. “I should go. I’m running late.”

    Now Lydie checked her watch. She had planned to go to the Bibliothèque Nationale, to look up details of seventeenth-century weddings for a piece in Vogue. Then, like the woman, she gazed up. She felt unwilling to leave. The palace against the blue sky looked dark and ancient, as if it had stood there forever. She wanted to stall for time, to prolong this pleasant, casual conversation with another American. “Where are you off to?” she asked after a moment.

    “Oh, home,” the woman said. “I told my housekeeper she could go online.”

    “Your housekeeper?”

    “Yes. I’m teaching her to use the computer. Didier bought it when personal computers hit Paris in a big way, but it just sits there.”

    Lydie regarded the woman more carefully. With her jewelry and clothes and slightly regal bearing, she gave the impression of someone who would want distance between herself and a domestic employee. “Are you training her to do your correspondence?” Lydie asked.

    The woman smiled, but the smile seemed distant. “Kelly wants to improve her life. She’s a Filipino, from the provinces outside Manila, and she’s here in Paris illegally. She’s just a little younger than I am—she’s been to college. She shares a place with an amazing number of brothers and sisters. Her goal is to get to the United States.”

    “And you want to help her?” Lydie asked, sitting on the edge of her chair.

    “Well, it’s practically impossible.”

    “My parents immigrated to the United States from Ireland,” Lydie said.

    “It’s especially hard for Filipinos,” the woman said, again looking at her watch. She gathered her bags and stood. “Well. Hasn’t this been fun?” she said.

    “Maybe . . .” Lydie began.

    “We should exchange phone numbers,” the woman said, grinning.

    And while Lydie wrote out her name and number on a piece of notepaper, the dark-haired woman held out a vellum calling card, simply engraved, with an address on the Place des Vosges and the name “Patrice d’Origny.”

    Walking down the rue des Petits Champs, Lydie felt in no hurry to get to the Bibliothèque Nationale. Even though she had hours of research to do for a photo series that was already a week overdue, she felt like playing hooky. The BBS wheels on a red BMW 750 parked by the curb caught her eye. Nice wheels, Lydie thought. She had spent many childhood Saturdays at her father’s body shop in the Bronx—a cavernous place filled with smells of exhaust and paint, the flare of welding torches, the shrieks of machinery and metal tearing—without seeing many BBS wheels. Her father was the boss but wore blue overalls anyway. He would leave her in the office, separated from the shop by a glass window, coming back every fifteen minutes or so to visit her.

    “What happened to that car?” Lydie had asked once, watching another wreck towed in.

    “An accident, darling. He hit a tree off the Pelham Parkway, and he must have been drunk, because he knew how to drive.”

    “How do you know?” Lydie asked, when what she really wanted to know was what had happened to the man.

    “See his wheels?” her father asked, pointing at the car, leaning his head so close to Lydie’s that she caught a whiff of the exhaust that always seemed to cling to his hair and clothes. “They’re BBS. A man doesn’t buy wheels like that if he doesn’t know how to drive.”

    To her father, “knowing how to drive” had covered more than mere competence. It was a high compliment and meant the driver was alert behind the wheel, unified with his car and the road, aware of the difference between excellent and ordinary machinery.

    Walking away from the red BMW with its high-performance, nonproduction wheels, down the narrow Paris street, Lydie had the urge to drive fast. In America she raced cars for a hobby, but over here she hadn’t had the desire. She had resisted this move to Paris. She had told Michael it was because she didn’t want to leave her family, which now consisted of only Lydie and her mother. But Michael had said no, what Lydie did not want to leave was her family tragedy.

    Eight months before Michael accepted the position at the Louvre, Lydie’s father had killed his lover and himself. Margaret Downes. Lydie felt a jolt every time she remembered the name. After forty years of what everyone considered a great marriage, Cornelius Benedict Fallon had fallen in love with another woman. Lydie hadn’t known and Julia claimed, even now, to have had no clue. Lydie knew there must have been clues, and she often felt furious with her mother for not seeing them. Because right up until the time the New York City detectives knocked on her door, Lydie had believed in her mother’s myth of a happy family.

    Lydie was her parents’ only child; born relatively late in their marriage, she knew she was beloved. They had raised her to feel confident and live like a daredevil. A favorite story of her father’s was of how Lydie at eight, watching the Olympics on television, had suddenly stood and done a perfect backflip off the back of the sofa. The second time she tried, she broke her collarbone. During high school she took up whitewater kayaking, tutoring children in a neighborhood few of her convent school classmates would even visit, and hitchhiking to Montauk on Saturdays. One day her father let her take an H-production Sprite for a spin. The intensity of concentration required to speed thrilled her, and from then on she thought of racing as a legitimate way to drive a car fast.

    Cutting through the Galerie Vivienne, remembering that Bugeye Sprite and her old fearless self, Lydie felt her eyes fill with tears. The emotion was so strong she stopped in front of a wine shop, pretending to regard the window display while she cried. She thought of the car Michael had given her for Christmas, just before the shooting. They had shopped around together, and Lydie had fallen in love with a showroom stock Volvo 740 wagon. Michael had grinned at the idea of his wife racing a station wagon, the car favored by women living in the Litchfield Hills to ferry kids and groceries around Lime Rock. Secretly, he had bought it for her. Lydie closed her eyes, remembering that Christmas morning: in their apartment on West Tenth Street she had opened a small box containing brown leather driving gloves, a map of Connecticut with “Lime Rock” circled in red, and the keys. She hadn’t even driven it since her father died. It sat in Sharon, Connecticut, in a garage behind her crew chief’s house.

    Michael had told her about the Louvre position as if he were giving her a gift even greater than the car: the gift of adventure, a year in Paris. But Lydie hadn’t wanted to come. She had wanted to stay in New York; she couldn’t imagine leaving her mother. She couldn’t imagine leaving the scene. But in spite of lacking heart, she couldn’t say no to Michael, who was incredibly excited about the move. And then, the day had come to pack their things into a crate that would cross the Atlantic on a Polish freighter.

    Julia had sat on Lydie and Michael’s bed, watching them pack. Lydie knew that although her mother felt abysmally sad at seeing Lydie go, she wouldn’t dream of speaking up. Julia would think that by doing so she would spoil Michael’s happiness. She was plump, especially in the bosom, with soft, curly gray hair and, even then, a perpetually happy expression in her blue eyes. Lydie could hardly bear to look at her that day; she rummaged through a dresser drawer. Coming upon her driving gloves, Lydie slipped them on, flexing the new leather.

    “Can’t wait to see you drive at Le Mans,” Michael said. “It’s only about two hours from Paris.”

    “I can’t wait,” Lydie said, doubting even then that she would drive in France.

    “Oh, you two will have such a ball,” Julia said, grinning. “All the museums and the restaurants. Your aunt Carrie and I spent a weekend in Paris one time. It was lovely.”

    “Flying to Paris from Ireland is like taking the Eastern Shuttle to Washington,” Michael said. From his tone Lydie could tell he felt grateful to Julia for her enthusiasm.

    “Well, we took the boat, but yes—distances are so different over there. It’s a short trip from Paris to anywhere in Europe. You’ll have a marvelous time.”

    “It’ll be great,” Michael said, speaking to Lydie.

    She said nothing, but smiled at him. He was trying to assemble a cardboard carton. The sight of her tall husband—a whiz on any basketball court but a klutz when it came to anything remotely mechanical—trying to transform a sheet of corrugated cardboard into a vessel that would actually hold their belongings made Lydie laugh.

    “Here, let me,” she said, folding flaps, slapping on the plastic tape without even taking off her gloves.

    “What a woman,” Michael said, bending down to kiss her.

    “She’s one in a million,” Julia said. “After she won her first race at Watkin’s Glen, her father said she could do anything. Do you remember that nice dinner we all had afterward?”

    “Sure,” Lydie said, quivering with the memory. They had drunk champagne, and after dinner her father had bought her a cigar. She could picture her parents perfectly: their proud smiles, her mother’s girlish smile, the absent way her father reached over to touch Julia’s shoulder. It killed Lydie to think Margaret Downes had already brought her car in for its second paint job in six months, that Neil had already fallen in love with her. The happy expression on her father’s face that night, so full of love, had been for Margaret.

    Lydie crouched, assembling another carton. Michael sat beside her, pulling the tape out of her hands and holding them tight; he knew what the memory meant to her. Julia said nothing, looking on. She had started to cry but stopped herself. Lydie eased her hands from Michael’s grasp, ripped off a piece of tape, closed a seam. Every crack she taped, every box she built, brought her closer to leaving. And, somehow, the idea of leaving the scene of her father’s death and crime filled her with doom. She felt wild with an abundance of unfinished business.

    “A year in Paris,” Julia had said. “I can’t imagine any couple who could enjoy it more than you.”

    But it wasn’t working out that way, Lydie thought now, entering the Bibliothèque’s vast courtyard. With their great luck, she had thought they would be the most frivolous pair in Paris. But Michael’s exhilaration had turned to patience; he was waiting for Lydie to get back the spirit he had fallen in love with. So far it hadn’t happened. Since coming to Paris, Lydie felt a gulf widening between herself and Michael, and she couldn’t do a damned thing about it.

    Just before a race, Lydie always experienced a vision. In a flash she saw the crash, the rollover, herself paralyzed in a hospital.

    From the Trade Paperback edition.

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    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 3.5
    ( 29 )
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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted June 8, 2011

      Awful! Very disappointed.

      I am a huge Luanna Rice fan but I thought this book was horrible! I am surprised that she is even the author of this. It took everything I had on numerous occasions to continue reading. I have never stopped reading a book halfway through, but I was very tempted to do so many times.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted January 8, 2011

      more from this reviewer

      readers will enjoy Luanne Rice's look into the souls of three women at key crossroads in their respective lives

      In order to escape somewhat from the murder-suicide death of her father and take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity, Lydie and Michael McBride move to Paris on a cultural exchange program. The photographer stylist and her architect husband redesign a room at the Louvre.

      Lydie and Bostonian expatriate Patrice d'Origny become friends as she does with Patrice's Filipino maid Kelly. Meanwhile, Michael begins an affair with a French author Anne Dumas who is writing the biography of Mme de Sevigne. Patrice's husband Didier hires Lydie to develop the new d'Origny Bijoutiers jewelry catalogue. As Lydie and Michael seem to drift further apart, each wonders if they can regain what they lost as Americans in Paris.

      This reprint of a 1991 family drama predominantly focuses on Lydie, but also looks deep at Patrice and Kelly. The story line is character driven with little action as the themes of friendship, forgiveness and second chances are explored. Though the men and Anne are emaciated stereotypes, readers will enjoy Luanne Rice's look into the souls of three women at key crossroads in their respective lives who will always have Paris.

      Harriet Klausner

      2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted May 28, 2011

      Highly recommended

      I loved this book, I couldn't stop reading.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted August 31, 2012

      more from this reviewer

      Secrets of Paris by Luanne Rice This is a story about Lydie who

      Secrets of Paris by Luanne Rice
      This is a story about Lydie who has moved to Paris with her husband. He's in the architecture business and she sets up shoots for photographing. She was reluctant to come to Paris as her father and mistress had died in a car crash a year ago and she wanted to console her mother.
      She did meet an American woman at a cafe one day and they became friends.
      Patrice's husband is into selling jewelry and he asks for Lydie's help in a ball at a mansion. She scurries the countryside for just the right props.
      Her husband, Michael in the meantime has taken up with Anne in an affair.
      Patrice's mother has arrived from US to stay a week and she's trying on her nerves.
      Michael has told her that he no longer loves her and does not think she loves him. He has fallen in love with another woman. Lydie is not sure if she loves him or not. She tries to focus on other things-to help the maid Kelly get to the US. Maybe now Lydie will leave Paris after the ball, with Kelly.
      Lots of choices and decisions. I felt not connected to this book, probably just the foreign location. Story line was great and few characters as others came in and out of the picture, very easy to follow the story.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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