The Black Swan of Paris

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jul 2020

Member Reviews

Lately, I've been more and more interested in books, fiction and nonfiction, about the World War 2 era.  For most people alive today it is hard to believe that this time in history actually happened.  The stories of how everyday peoples lives were turned upside down and how they all banded together against the Nazis are extraordinary.  The Black Swan of Paris was hard to put down.  It's the story of a popular singer who, against her will, is drawn into working with the Resistance in France.  When she finds out her estranged mother is also a member of the Resistance and has been captured by the Nazis she uses all her resources to try and help her.  The story is suspenseful, has a great story line and is a sobering reminder of the events this time in history held.  Highly Recommend!!
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Karen Robards turns her attention temporarily away from the successful contemporary suspense novels she normally writes in order to give her readers a war story.  The book gives the reader many stories in one.  It is about war - a bloody one - World War two.  It tells the story of the French resistance to Nazi occupation braving the horrors of absolute repression practiced by the German conquerors.  It takes place during the last period of the war at a point where an allied invasion is planned and both the Germans and allies are working to bestow their own ending on it.  The Germans to find out where it will take place in order to turn it back, and the allies to hide it, surprising the enemy and making it into the final stage against the third Reich.  Most important the novel does not detract in any way from the author's ability to mesmerize her readership and serves only to increase her range with those enjoying her books.
     Genevieve Dumont is a singer that has created herself as a persona with an exceptionally good voice, a marvelous stage presence and the ability to take charge of her audience.  She is the daughter of French upper class people, but has had a falling out with her mother Lillian de Rocheford and has fled from her family and ending up in Casablanca, Morocco eking out a living singing in various venues to earn some money to live on.
     Discovered there by Max a British officer seconded to the French resistance movement she is molded by him into a spy and guided into creating scenarios that allow her group to obtain information important to the French Partisans.  Over the years they work together their emotions are kept in check, but the author creates a very plausible situation leading to the couple falling in love.  The final section of the book finds that Lillian de Rocheford has been captured by the Germans and is being subjected to torture in order to force her to release the location of the coming invasion.  Lilian knows the site due to the fact that the allies have given her an important role on the day of the invasion.
     Family is family and Genevieve gets Max and her group to try and effect her mother's release in order to carry out her assigned mission. That the book grabs hold of the readers and doesn't let go until the end is a given  It is indicative of the literary talent that is Karen Robards and her ability to capture and keep her readers fixed on the book as well as looking for the next one.
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Robards takes a break from contemporary suspense novels to pen this historical gem.  In 1944 Paris, singer Genevieve Dumont appears to be cozying up to the Nazis, but appearances are deceiving.  In reality, Genevieve is using her position to share Nazi secrets with Resistance leader Max Ryan.  Then Genevieve’s mother Lillian, also part of the Resistance, is captured by the Nazis. Max has been given orders to ensure Lillian does not leak any information about the Resistance, even if it means killing her. Even though Genevieve and her mother are not on the best terms, she refuses to let Lillian be killed and plans to rescue her before it’s too late. To do this, she must get past seven years of bad blood between herself and her sister, Emmy. Only together, can they save their mother. Robards never disappoints, and this story of a family reuniting in one of the darkest periods of human history is magnificent
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When it is snowy and cold outside, superspeed readers like me can read 150 - 200+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOL

I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

A captivating story of estranged sisters reunited by a devastating war and the race to save their mother’s life

Paris, 1944
Celebrated singer Genevieve Dumont is both a star and a smokescreen. An unwilling darling to the Nazis, the chanteuse’s position of privilege also has its advantages—such as going undetected as an ally to undercover British officer Captain Max Ryan as part of the resistance.

What Max doesn’t know is that Genevieve’s estranged mother, Lillian de Rocheford, is among the underground group recently captured by Nazis. It won’t be long before the Gestapo forces sensitive information out of Lillian that will derail the upcoming Allied invasion, so Max has been tasked with silencing her by any means necessary—including assassination. Terrified by this deadly threat, Genevieve secretly plots to rescue Lillian.

There may be seven bitter years of distance between Genevieve and her sister, Emmy, but as the clock runs down on their mother’s life, a shared determination to keep the frayed fabric of their family intact reunites them. If only they can navigate the perilous crosscurrents of occupied France undetected—and in time.

Deftly portraying the impossible choices faced in wartime, bestselling author Karen Robards vividly illuminates three women’s strength, courage and capacity for unconditional love.

Oh, sisters --- what a complicated story and history for most readers to understand: unless they are an only child, most people who that familial bonds can be ridiculously tenuous.  Karen Robards is such an incredible writer that I was happy to see her delve into this historical era that is slowly being forgotten (aside from reading about it) as that generation dies off. The story reminded me a bit about Joesphine Baker as she was a singer and a spy during WWII as well and the subject of an episode of "Timeless"!

The storyline was tense at times and warm at others and the familial bonds in this story were well crafted. The fact that they were rescuing their mother is a memory-related talking point for people to think about their mothers and what they would do for them.  I have added this book to the "Summer 2020" reading lists for my book club ladies as the book is wonderful and talking about siblings and mothers is always a great taking point for a group of women and a bottle or two of wine. lol.

As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials" on Instagram and Twitter..get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🦢🦢🦢🦢🦢 (they did not have black swans, only white!)
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