A TALE OF THE WIND by Kay Nolte Smith


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 A fat, blowzy historical romance set mainly in 19th-century Paris, a veritable featherbed of drifts from past literary monuments: a gamine, a noble dwarf, a bravely suffering adulteress, etc. This three-generational roll call of hidden paternities, careers, and affairs of the heart is by the author of several psychothrillers and a more successful mystery, The Watchers (1980). Thirteen-year-old Jeanne Sorel, a ragpicker working with her wretched family on a garbage heap, is rescued by Nandou, a dwarf who teaches Jeanne to read and write, root for Victor Hugo, the Romanticists, and the Republic, and bellow at the barricades against King Louis Philippe. With Jeanne's new confidence and job in the theater (disguised as a boy), Smith's genealogical sweepstakes begin. At the post: Jeanne and wealthy Louis Vollard, who marries aristocratic EdmÇe but sires Jeanne's daughter Gabrielle (kidnapped by Louis but rescued by Nandou). At the midway point: grown-up Gabrielle stomps away from Jeanne and loving Nandou when she learns of her parentage and marries Marc, son of EdmÇe (but not Louis). At the finish: Gabrielle's daughter Simone and her search for the father she adores and her discovery of another. Eh bien. On and on--daring rescues, flights from the law, flings and strivings and coups in theater and art, a love that builds slowly, and secrets, secrets, secrets. Windy but pleasantly lulling in the telling--for the undemanding.

Pub Date: June 14th, 1991
ISBN: 0-394-57835-X
Page count: 528pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1991