The year is 1867, when the Paris World Exhibition attracted many of the crowned heads of Europe and Africa, from the Czar Alexander of Russia to the Khedive of Egypt. They came primarily to enjoy Parisian food and women, and especially Helene Gauthier, the star of Offenbach's operas. For a night with La Belle Helene, many were willing to risk reputations and fortunes, but she loved an Englishman in the foreign service, John Montgomery. For John, she almost gave up her glittering career, until a brief visit to London and an exposure to Victorian morality, returned her to Paris and the lovers she had been prepared to sacrifice for a dull marriage... Although the book is studded with real names, the characters achieve very little identity and even Helene barely comes to life. Her story is never much more than a bedroom view of history- written in the hope of achieving another breast-seller.