The Paris Secret: A Novel

The Paris Secret: A Novel

by Karen Swan


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062672827
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/14/2017
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 213,096
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Karen Swan is married with three children and lives 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 Tiffany’s, and The Perfect Present.

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The Paris Secret: A Novel 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
A few years ago now, I remember a story about the ‘opening’ of an apartment in Paris after the owner’s death – and the treasure trove found within: paintings, jewelry, sculpture, antique furniture, etc. Much was made of the find – and while I don’t remember how much (if any) of the pieces were reputed to be stolen during World War II, the facts relating to art and valuable cultural treasures and personal items during that time has always fascinated me. Karen Swan manages to use that original premise in this book, bringing us an art agent in Flora, brought in to evaluate, value and arrange the sale of an apartment full of items hidden since the war. Set mostly in Paris – the story manages to touch on art and the search for provenance, the secrets that arise when priceless masters suddenly appear, and the general upheaval that threatens as Flora digs deeper into the history of these artworks, Mixed into this are two additional sideplots: Flora’s own life that exists for her career and her own family – no time for romance or herself, and she’s concerned about her brother Freddy who seems “off”, and the questions surrounding the Vermeil family, the owners of the apartment and in particular, the rather odd ‘romance’ as Xavier works to push Flora in directions of his choosing rather than where the answers lead her. By far, the thread that focused on Flora and her investigations to discover how the paintings came to the family, what path they took, and even if they have a claim to ‘honest’ ownership. From descriptions of art to the multiple sources used to find the path the paintings travelled, and even the perspective brought to the story with the insertion of information from the war era – these moments kept me intrigued. Swan’s writing is solid and lyrical, and the mystery thread is solidly presented. However, the other threads were less well executed: the romance between Flora and Xavier felt superfluous as did the story of Freddy – neither truly added any dimension or depth to the story, and for me, Xavier did come off more spoilt rich boy than love interest: always seeming to be overthinking his approach. A solid book that is notable for the art and the work of Flora as she seeks to verify provenance as well as the uncovering of other secrets hidden since the war or before – even having an effect on people of the day. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book grabs you from the first page and holds you tight to the end...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful story Couldn't put it down.
Cynthia181 More than 1 year ago
Wonderful I won this book from Goodreads giveaways. I was not required to give a favorable review. This is a wonderful book based on a historical apartment in Paris I love how the story has so much history in it and also about the amount of background was given on how the art that was stolen from families is being tracked to find out where it actually is. The whole story just kept intrigue from the minute I opened the book I until I finished it. And the end of the story really surprised me. I was thinking such bad thoughts about a dead character to find out what he really did. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a bit of historical fact in their fiction
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Paris - 2016 Two men are breaking into a Paris apartment that no one has entered for many years. What they come across is a total shock. Wiltshire England - 2016 Flora Sykes is enjoying the unusually hot weather out in her parents’ garden. Flora has a busy job that takes her jetting around everywhere. Her father retired as chief auctioneer at Christie’s. Flora learned a lot about art at her father’s knee. Add to that her degree in art history and one can see how she is now a buyer of find art for clients. They trust her to bid for them and buy beautiful and valuable pieces of art. Flora and her boss, Angus, are called to Paris by the wealthy Vermeil family. Madame Vermeil’s in-laws had an apartment in Paris that no one knew about that has been closed up and untouched for 75 years. Her father-in-law passed away many years ago but her mother-in-law is still living. When people broke into the apartment, they anonymously notified the family about it. They had known nothing about it and it would have stayed a secret until the elder Madame Vermeil had passed away. Now that they know, they have summoned Flora and Angus to check it out. When Flora and Angus go through the apartment, they find art lined up in stacks all around the apartment. The pieces are fabulous and they even find a Renoir. Flora is assigned to catalogue the art and find out where it came from. Looking deeper into the history of the Renoir, she finds a period of time where it was unaccounted for making her think it might be a piece of art that a Nazi had stolen and stashed during the war. The Vermeil family is extremely wealthy and working with them is difficult in that their adult children as spoiled and physically violent. As Flora gets deeper into her investigation, she wonders if perhaps the Vermeil grandparents could have been working with the Nazis and stashed the paintings. When an accusation comes out against the family, their lives are in an uproar. Can Flora discover the truth about how the art came to be where it was found? This is a good story and I enjoyed it very much. Having lived in France for years, I felt a part of the descriptions, mannerisms, and other details. My only complaint is that Flora’s love life is a somewhat juvenile in that she doesn’t have good taste in men. But because she is flawed that makes her even more human. Copy provided by Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Honolulubelle More than 1 year ago
Favorite Quotes: 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. My Review: 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Paris :D