By Elizabeth Ross
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 327 pages
Seeking a bigger world, Maude Pichon escapes from her tiny village for the vibrancy of Paris, but making a living proves a difficult task and Maude finds herself accepting a curious employment offer. Chosen for her plain looks, Maude is a repoussoir meant to repel attention and focus it on her client.
Maude’s initial reluctance to the hurtful role gives way in face of a high-profile job requiring her to befriend the Countess Dubern’s daughter, Isabelle, and report information pertaining to Isabelle’s season. The duplicity of her task complicates Maude’s relationship with both her employer and the intriguing Isabelle. Loyalties are exchanged, and soon Maude will have to choose either employment or friendship as she struggles to persevere in the harsh city of Paris.
Although entertaining and fast-paced, building a connection to the characters and sensing the bonds between them takes quite a few pages. But decadence spills into every corner of this unique story and the novel gives the reader plenty to ponder even after reading the last sentence. A brilliant set of characters with a fragile, but at the same time independent, narrator sets into motion what will be a memorable read for those that encounter it.
Reviewed by Isabel Hernandez