By: Michelle Gable
Undoubtedly the best book I have read in years. Appealing to those who love to read about Paris, fanciers of art history or antiques and, of course, love. This chronicles the history and discovery of the magnificent apartment of the demi-mondaine Madame Marthe de Florian (Mathilde Heloise Beaugiron), her years at the Folies and as muse to the Belle Epoque portraitist, Giovanni Boldini. The 9th arrondissement apartment was sealed up (from the Germans) over 70 years ago and discovered in 2010 when Sotherby's Continental furniture specialist, April Vogt, went in to discover it was packed with priceless furniture and art, including the never before seen Boldini portrait of Marthe that sold at auction for $2.1 million euros.
In a bookcase were her journals. She has a lively sense of humour (I laughed so much) like when she first becomes acquainted with "le penis"..."it is really quite ridiculous, this creature", and her first paramour Msr. Buree' makes his fortune in bat guarno (bat shit)...she laughs, I laugh.
April is working with estate solicitor, the oh-so-french, Luc Thebault (of course ladies), who is as luscious as his name and accent. He is uncooperative, then cooperative, then rude, then flirtatious thus keeping "Avril", who already has a rocky marriage, in a continual befuddled state but they soon develop a symbiotic relationship and he lets her read the journals. The banter between them is endearing, the attraction undeniable, the respect surmountable.
There is a sisterhood between our heroines, April and Marthe. Both share the need for excitement/entertainment but their own personal demons/insecurities keep them from truly enjoying life. One uses men to achieve a rich life style and acceptance (or was it love?) from Parisian society, but is controlled by the men who have the pursestrings (she did not love) and the artist who holds what love she has to give plus the baby. The other searches for fulfillment and the love but is a
slave to the memory of her mother's slow demise and the neglect she
feels because of her father choosing to be with her mother over her,
then sells all of her mother's things. This spills over to her husband
who starts their marriage with a pre-nup, a gregarious ex-wife and
infidelity. Both women find a man who emotionally supports them until
their lives evolve.
You will not be disappointed with this wonderful work of literature. I am a fan.