In the edgy literary newsletter The Paris Insider, reviewer K.V. Marin writes:
“Just this year I have already read four books on the subject of how the Nazis stole artwork during WWII. No one has written the story so clearly and with such emotion as Patricia Le Roy in Girl with Parasol.
“This book makes you ask yourself: What lengths would you go to for a work of art? Woukl you lie? Would you steal? Would you betray someone? Four people’s lives are brought together by the enigmatic, Girl with Parasol, Monet’s little known portrait of Tania Wertheimer, daughter of his art dealer.
“Half-Jewish Corinne was born into a family of art collectors and gallerists. Tania, Corinne’s mother, died when she was born, and so the painting is Corinne’s only link to the woman she never knew. As the Nazis occupy Paris, Corinne desperately fights to save the family gallery and keep the painting safely hidden away.
“Rose is the sole French curator allowed to remain at the Jeu de Paume museum, now converted into the German transit point for stolen art. The simple, understated, even mousy, appearance she adopts is no threat to the Nazis yet it allows her to keep tabs on all of the in and out movement of the art.
“Hanna’s pre-war excursion to Paris is made memorable by Corinne. Back in her native Germany, now married and working for the Foreign Ministry, she harbors fond memories of her visit to the City of Light, and of her dear friend.
“German diplomat Thomas straddles two worlds as he gives in to his attraction to Corinne while living under the pressure of his duty to his Nazi bosses. Driven to the brink, his actions disrupt the lives of this trio of woman while forever changing the fate of the painting.
“At the center of the story is the painting itself playing the multiple roles of prized possession, masterpiece, source of inspiration and link to the past.
“Le Roy is a master at crafting a gripping story with an emotional tug of war that makes you question morality. I couldn’t put the book down, and in fact was irritated when I had to. It made me think, it made me cry, it made me angry, it made me want more. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
The Paris Insider is put out by Terrance Gelenter (paris-expat.com)