Title: The Black Swan of Paris
Author: Karen Robards
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Published: June 30th, 2020 (MIRA/Harlequin)
Celebrated singer Genevieve Dumont is both a star and a smokescreen. An unwilling darling of the Nazis, the chanteuse’s position of privilege allows her to go undetected as an ally to the resistance.
When her estranged mother, Lillian de Rocheford, is captured by Nazis, Genevieve knows it won’t be long before the Gestapo succeeds in torturing information out of Lillian that will derail the upcoming allied invasion. The resistance movement is tasked with silencing her by any means necessary—including assassination. But Genevieve refuses to let her mother become yet one more victim of the war. Reuniting with her long-lost sister, she must find a way to navigate the perilous cross-currents of Occupied France undetected—and in time to save Lillian’s life.
Thank you to the publisher, MIRA (Harlequin), and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
In wartime Paris, Genevieve Dumont is a celebrated singer favoured by the Nazis who uses her fame and the privileges she is afforded as an artist to help the resistance undetected – passing messages to allies, smuggling refugees across borders disguised as part of her troupe and more. The allied invasion is drawing closer when Lillian de Rocheford, Genevieve’s estranged mother, is captured. To prevent her from giving away any information, the resistance is prepared to go to any length to silence her. But Genevieve is determined to save her, and she and her long-lost sister Emmy must put aside their differences and find a way to cross the dangerous territory of Occupied France to save their mother’s life.
In an odd coincidence, this is the third book I’ve read this year that takes a look into the situation in France during World War II. The Paper Girl of Paris, which I read last month, was a great introduction to the workings of the Resistance in those years, but this book is on a whole other level, seeing as it is told from the perspectives of those actively entrenched in the movement. The Black Swan of Paris provides a much more up-close, behind the scenes look at the events of this time, especially those surrounding the planning of the Normandy landings which I had never read about in detail before.
Genevieve was a fantastic main character to follow. I adore spy stories and it was great to follow her journey from the glamour and glitz of Paris to her throwing herself into the thick of things as she navigates a very precarious situation to bring her family back together. Karen Robards does an excellent job at developing the characters and building up the tension in the story aptly depicting their emotions and thoughts during the harrowing experiences they go through. What really interested me though, was that the author took the time to talk about what normal French citizens went through during the Occupation, with the severe shortage of food and supplies, always at the risk of being arrested or killed by the Germans for any possible reason – and that’s not even mentioning the allied bombers.
Though this story is fictional, it does use real people and events whose contributions to the effort are well known. This book was obviously very well researched and the author truly brings this time period to life. Despite the core of the story being Genevieve’s journey to save her family, it doesn’t shy away from depicting the atrocities of the time, just as a warning for more sensitive readers.
The Black Swan of Paris is a book, in my opinion, that anyone can enjoy, even if they’re not a fan of history. Beautifully written and fast paced, while this is a departure from the usual fare of historical fiction, it is more mystery and adventure cleverly woven into the events of this time period, and is practically impossible to put down. Highly recommended!
The Black Swan of Paris releases on June 30th, 2020.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!