Barr’s take on early Nazi Germany provides a different perspective in this foray into the pre–World War II period.
Julian moves to Paris after escaping a past that has repressed his artistic identity. It is 1932, and the promising young art student has won acceptance to a famed art school in the City of Light. On his first day, he meets three other young artists who help shape his destiny. René is the handsome son of one of the city’s most important art gallery proprietors; Adrienne is René’s beautiful girlfriend, stolen from Felix, the son of a wealthy German nobleman. Like Julian, all three are Jewish artists in a changing Europe during the early days of Hitler’s ascension to power. The four become fast friends until a stunning model named Charlotte is introduced to the group. Both René and Felix fall for the vacuous artist’s model, while Julian pines for Adrienne. When Felix’s father forces his son to return to Germany to take his rightful place as his father’s successor, Felix begs René and Julian to come with him. Julian, forewarned of the growing antagonism toward the Jews, doesn’t want to go, but René convinces him and brings along Charlotte, with whom he is now having an affair. The three men and Charlotte become caught up in the rapid changes taking effect in Nazi Germany. Barr paints a vivid picture of the era and the effects Hitler’s interest in art had on both artists and Europe in general, and she has an eye for recreating the ambience of Paris in that era. But some of her characters tend to wax a bit over-the-top, while René and Julian behave like they are cast members of a horror movie who, despite knowing their actions are self-destructive, keep tempting fate and make the reader want to shout, “What are you thinking?”
Period melodrama that will appeal to those who enjoy art or are receptive to a new take on Nazi Germany.