Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson

Maud has come to Paris to study art.  She loves to paint and is trying to improve her skill at it.  That means she has little money to spend on herself and she doesn't eat very much, but she's learning and that's all that's important to her.  When she's invited to be a lady's companion and receives room and board and a wage, she's elated.  Now she can concentrate on painting.  What she doesn't realize is that she has been caught in a spider web of deceit that could cost her life.

Reading Group Gold sent me a copy of this Advanced Readers' Edition of this story to read (thank you).  It has been published, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

This is not the type of thing that I usually read, but I found it very fascinating.  I know things were tough for young women who didn't have a husband to support them, but I never thought about a couple using their companion as a scape goat for a con game.  That's a very unusual twist.

Maud has a few friends at the school and one of them took her to meet a woman who takes in the young women from the streets.  She gives them a place to live, regular meals and helps them find a suitable job.  When Maud asks her for a job recommendation, the woman tells her about a young man who is looking for someone to watch over his sister.  When she applies, they're happy to hire her.  And things go well for a while.  Until one day they turn on her and accuse her of using the drugs she had bought for his sister.  Not only that, they drug her and he dumps her in the river to drown!

As unlikely as it seems, Maud survives.  It takes a while to get well again but as she heals, she plots.  When she finds out they have soiled her character and accused her of theft, she's determined to get even.  If she can't pursue through the law (who would believe her?), then she'll do it by "haunting" him.

The result is very satisfying networking between the women and aimed at the evil couple.  All their plans go by wayside, he keeps seeing Maud in the crowd and then she's gone, and both of them are getting nervous.  The ending is very ironic and very climatic.

I enjoy Ms. Robertson's writing style.  The words flow well, the story is believable, and the era is accurately reported.  Evil didn't triumph in this story and I like that.

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