Stuff and Nonsense
By Santa Montefiore
Simon & Schuster, $25.00, 400 pages
The Frampton family has just been shaken to its core by the death of the family patriarch, George. Reeling from grief, they are further shocked to discover that George had a daughter, Phaedra, that he’d recently met but had told no one about. The family accepts Phaedra as one of their own but a new discovery will turn the Frampton’s world upside down and they must all decide what family really means.
The Woman from Paris starts out as a charming book about a family dealing with loss and finding new life for themselves but quickly dissolves into a ridiculous story, primarily because the actions and reactions of the characters don’t make sense. The family’s total acceptance of Phaedra as George’s daughter without any proof boggles the mind. As the story goes on, the continued determination of the family to believe anything Phaedra says just becomes nonsensical. The ultimate ending reveals highly predictable secrets and plot twists that require such a suspension of reality that the book isn’t even enjoyable as escapist literature. Readers: give this one a pass.
Reviewed by Barbara Cothern