Title: The Black Swan of Paris
Author: Karen Robards
Published: 30 June 2020
Quote: As she’d already learned to her cost, there were not guarantees in life, no guarantees that the person you loved would be there from one day to the next, no guarantee about anything at all. And this was war. Death waited around every corner. It came rocketing out of the sky, zipping through the air, blasting up from the ground. It came with no notice, no warning, no change to say goodbye.
Paris, 1944. A city steeped in terror and fear since the Nazis took control in 1940. Yet, life for Genevieve Dumont is nothing but one of privilege. As a celebrated singer, Genevieve passes as both a star and a smokescreen for the resistance.
Everything seems to be running smoothly, until her estranged mother, Lillian de Rocheford, is captured by Nazis. Unfortunately, Lillian has information that the Nazis desperately want about the upcoming allied invasion. Genevieve has to reunite with her sister to navigate the perilous crosscurrents of Occupied France to save Lillian’s life, as well as protect the upcoming invasion.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Edelweiss+ and MIRA in exchange for an honest review.
From the moment I read the first page, I was hooked. Robards immediately draws you in on the action with a raid on a house that is hiding Jews. There is no slowing down once the book is started. If I didn’t have work, and wasn’t literally falling asleep while reading, I would’ve finished it sooner.
One aspect of her writing that I particularly love is that she doesn’t draw out action sequences. There’s a part close to the end where the characters are trying to escape from the Nazis, and once the danger for the time passes, the next chapter is the next sequence. The flow didn’t feel rushed or abrupt either, it all felt like, yes “this is how it should be.” Everything is given its proper attention but not overdoing it for action and gore sake.
I absolutely love Max! He’s adorable and driven, knows he has to take part of unpleasant actions but does it anyway because he’s a soldier and these are Nazis. His and Genevieve’s relationship felt so true and beautiful but not in a way that felt disingenuous. Their relationship unfolded exactly as I wanted it to.
The only part I didn’t like, and it’s such a small thing I know, but I felt like it ended so abruptly. There’s all this tension, fear, and unknowable ending (yes, we know how it ends, but as I was reading, at points, I forgot how it would end. Plus, I didn’t know what would happen with these characters), and then just a drop off at the end. There’s an epilogue set in May of 1945 that ties up everything with a bow. It was only a few pages, and I felt a little let down by it. I don’t know how I would’ve ended it instead but something I did want to point out.
Overall, this was a beautiful and heart-pounding novel from the off-set and definitely would recommend to anyone who loves historical fiction books set during World War 2.
Happy Reading Darlings!