The Black Swan of Paris – Karen Robards

The Black Swan of Paris is Genevieve Dumont, a French singer based in Paris, who is the toast of Europe– including the Nazi occupiers. Her manager Max, a Brit who speaks fluent French, also serves as the head of a cell of the French Resistance. Max has drawn Genevieve into this work through some subterfuge that creates tension between them. Their relationship and conflict at the outset of the novel do not make a lot of sense, but as we learn more about the caution taken to ensure as much protection as possible for all members and all cells, it is more believable. Each cell operates separately from others and each person within a cell is only privy to information necessary to his or her role. In order to secure intelligence for the Resistance, Genevieve must encourage the attention of a vicious key Nazi officer. Almost simultaneous to this assignment, someone once dear to her is captured for work performed for a separate cell. The Nazi officer is assigned to find out what this person knows about the impending Allied invasion and so the prisoner is kept alive for purposes of interrogation — just. For Genevieve, it is time to let go of the past, but at what price to the overall mission of the resistance to put her country, not individuals, first at all times? And what danger will she create for others as she involves them in her plan to rescue the prisoner? This is a highly readable novel that takes us from Paris, France to Germany to Utah Beach and the Allied forces’ invasion. The setting and story are smoothly woven together, a nicely written piece of historical fiction.

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