15 August 2016

Review #506: The Paris Secret by Karen Swan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.”

----Pablo Picasso

Karen Swan, an English author, pens a heart-touching and intense contemporary romance novel, The Paris Secret which unfolds the story of a family as well as a powerful female art dealer who gets muddled into the family drama as well as the family secrets of a reputed and affluent French family suddenly discovered artworks are needed to be studied by the art dealer to find its origin as well as the reason behind its concealment, but there's more to art drama than this art dealer can ever guess.


Somewhere along the cobbled streets of Paris, an apartment lies thick with dust and secrets: full of priceless artworks hidden away for decades.

High-flying Fine Art Agent Flora from London, more comfortable with the tension of a million-pound auction than a cosy candlelit dinner for two, is called in to asses these suddenly discovered treasures. As an expert in her field, she must trace the history of each painting and just who has concealed them for so long.

Thrown in amongst the glamorous Vermeil family as they move between Paris and Antibes, Flora begins to discover that things aren't all that they seem, while back at home her own family is recoiling from a seismic shock. The terse and brooding Xavier Vermeil seems intent on forcing Flora out of his family's affairs - but just what is he hiding?

Flora Skyes is an English art dealer, adviser as well as auctioneer and her mind revolves around her parents, her brother and art, in big bold capital letters, rather than indulging herself in romance or any kind of compassion with an opposite sex. So this career-minded woman lands up in Paris after her boss, Angus's frantic call to handle and find the originality as well as to verify the authenticity of some suddenly discovered artworks, including a rare piece of Renoir in an apartment hidden and tucked away in some forgotten alley in Paris. That apartment belongs to Madame Vermeil's father-in-law, whose clear instructions say that the apartment and its contents can't be sold off if his wife is still alive. Soon Flora begins her investigation to find out about the hidden artworks and that stumbles her upon a dark Vermeil family secret, that can destroy the whole clan, and within no time, Flora finds herself getting allured to this compelling family, especially the mother-in-law and the two grand kids, Xavier and Natascha, and gets meddled into their dark family affairs.

After reading this reading, I was left with the thought that Karen Swan is an incredible writer, not just her writing is flawless, but her style of spinning the story is also polished and perfect. Firstly, my heart was left arrested by that enchanting and oh so Parisian! artwork of the book cover that instantly begged me to open the book and start reading. And needless to say, right from the very prologue, the story left me wanting for more and to know what will happen next.

The author's writing style is eloquent and exquisite, laced perfectly with intense emotions and mind-blowing tension. The author narrates the story with the help of layers without giving away too much, but enough to make her readers to stay glued to the story line. The dialogues are convincing and free-flowing as well as articulate enough to help the readers comprehend or lose themselves into it. The pacing of the book is moderate, as this is the kind of book that readers need to enjoy in a subtle way.

The backdrop of Paris is bound to leave the readers awe-struck not only to those who have visited Paris but to also those who are yet to visit or haven't visited. The author has vividly captivated the charm, the perfect flair as well as the essence of a real Paris landscape, streets, restaurants, people, weather, flora as well as the fashion and the culture. The author has brought alive the city of lights with her fascinating words that strikingly portrays the city with its finest details for the readers to visually imagine it in their mind's eyes. Apart from Paris, the author also depicts so many French cities with careful observation and in proper depth so that the readers can imagine and feel the change in the landscape.

The characters from this book are extremely well developed, especially the central character, Flora, who is a no-nonsense heroine, who has a sharp mind like a detective and a fine eye like an artist. Her brave, careful and determined demeanor makes her a perfect role model for the book, who doesn't like to get involve in a love-drama but her caring nature towards this French family will make the readers sympathize and keep rooting for her till the end. Well I was wondering that the book would be free of any cliched love stories, but anyhow, Flora eventually gets involved as she falls head-over-heels in the love with the badass guy from the book. The supporting characters are much better the central character, as each and everyone from that French family felt multi-dimensional and flawed to the very core, beyond their complex attitude and poshness.

In a nutshell, the story is perfect for a long afternoon escape read and with a glass of red wine, this is surely going to take you places with some intense family drama and brain-twisting and gripping mystery to keep you hooked into it.

Verdict: Enthralling, riveting as well as romantic..and very, very French! Oui!

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers from Pan Macmillan India for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. 

Author Info:
Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and an ADHD puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest in Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs. Her first novel, Players, was published in 2010, followed by Prima Donna and Christmas at Tiffany's in 2011.
Visit her here 

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