After surviving the accident that took her mother s life, Claire Broussard has worked hard to escape her small Louisiana hometown. Read more...
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After surviving the accident that took her mother s life, Claire Broussard has worked hard to escape her small Louisiana hometown. But these days she feels something is lacking. Abruptly leaving her lucrative job in Chicago, Claire returns home to care for her ailing grandmother. There, she unearths a beautiful piece of artwork that her great-grandfather sent home from Paris after World War II.
At her grandmother s urging, Claire travels to Paris to track down the century-old mask-making atelier where the object, known only as L Inconnue or The Unknown Woman was created. Under the watchful eye of a surly mask-maker, Claire discovers a cache of letters that offers insight into the life of the Belle Epoque woman immortalized in the work of art. As Claire explores the unknown woman s tragic fate, she begins to unravel deeply buried secrets in her own life."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-07-18
- Reviewer: Staff
Blackwell’s (The Paris Key) excellent new novel follows Claire Broussard, who leaves her complacent life in Chicago to visit her dying grandmother in Louisiana, then travels to Paris to unravel a secret at her behest. Claire has long been fascinated by a broken plaster mask of a beautiful woman that she found as a child in her grandmother’s attic. Claire traces the mask to the Parisian studio where it was made and finds herself quickly enmeshed with Armand, the grumpy-but-intriguing owner, and his amiable cousin Giselle. The pair offer Claire, who is bilingual, a job dealing with American customers in exchange for room and board while she decides what to do next. The heroine and the handsome curmudgeon immediately bristle at one another, but they warm to each other gradually as Claire learns more about the mask and the family behind the studio. Blackwell seamlessly incorporates details about art, cast making, and the City of Light. She also skillfully weaves in chapters from the point of view of Sabine—the poor country girl behind the mystery, who became the muse of an abusive sculptor after a life of poverty. Blackwell does a fantastic job of incorporating recurring themes in this story; for instance, having survived drowning as a child, Claire is wary of rivers, while Sabine is rumored to have met her end in the Seine. Blackwell especially stuns in the aftermath of the main story by unleashing a twist that is both a complete surprise and a point that expertly ties everything together. (Sept.)