A Gentleman in Moscow meets Moulin Rouge in this stylish, sexy page-turner about Clementine, a queer American expat and notorious thief of rare scents, who has retired to Paris, only to return to her old tricks in hopes of protecting the city she loves when the Nazis invade in 1941.
Clementine is a seventy-two year-old reformed con artist with a penchant for impeccably tailored suits. Her life of crime has led her from the uber-wealthy perfume junkies of belle epoque Manhattan, to the scented butterflies of Costa Rica, to the spice markets of Marrakech, and finally the bordellos of Paris, where she settles down and opens a legitimate shop bottling her favorite extracts for the ladies of the cabarets.
In 1941, as the German’s stranglehold on the city tightens, Clem’s perfume-making attracts the notice of Oskar Voss, a Francophile Nazi bureaucrat, who comes to demand Clem’s expertise and loyalty in his mysterious play for Hitler’s favor. Clem has no choice but to surrender fully to the con, but while she knew playing the part of collaborator would be dangerous, she never imagined it would be so painfully intimate. At Oskar’s behest, and in an effort to win his trust, Clem recounts the full story of her life and loves, this time without the cover of the lies she came to Paris to escape.
Complete with romance, espionage, champagne towers, and haute couture, this full-tilt sensory experience is a dazzling portrait of the underground resistance of twentieth-century Paris and a passionate love letter to the power of beauty and community in the face of insidious hate.
Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday for providing me with an advanced e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
I enjoyed that this book was unlike anything I’ve read from this time in history in that it followed the LGBTQ community in Paris during WWII. The story was good, but I felt like there were some parts that were too long and dragged out.
I gave this book 3 stars.