A woman’s quest to discover the origin of a haunting heirloom leads her to a foreign country and family secrets in this novel from Blackwell (The Paris Key, 2015).
When Claire Broussard’s beloved grandmother, whom she calls Mammaw, gets sick, she abandons her career and boyfriend in Chicago and heads home to Louisiana. Back in Louisiana, Claire was known as Chance, but since then she’s taken every opportunity to distance herself from her old name, her long-gone mother, and her alcoholic father. Her roots have a stronger hold on her than she thought, though. When Claire finds a broken-but-beautiful mask that she remembers from her childhood, Mammaw tells her that it’s from Paris and instructs Claire to travel there to find out its story. After Mammaw’s death, Claire leaves for Paris with little more than her curiosity. When Claire finds the shop that made the mask, known as L’Inconnue de la Seine (The Unknown Woman of the Seine), she thinks she’s simply hit a dead end. But as Claire falls into a job at the shop, she begins to find out more about the history of the mask. She’s also drawn into the mysterious past of the grumpy-yet-intriguing mold-maker, Armand. Claire’s story is intertwined with the tale of Sabine, a young model in Paris in the 1890s. As Claire’s and Sabine’s stories progress, the reader learns how their lives are connected in deep and unexpected ways. Blackwell paints a picture of Paris that is both artistically romantic and realistically harsh. Although the story is slow-paced at times, the alternating points of view keep the reader’s interest.
A compelling story of Paris, art, and love throughout history.