Laker's 18th historical romance (after The Sugar Pavilion) is a spirited tale of love, war and high fashion. In 1909, 18-year-old Juliette Cladel returns to Paris from years in a convent school and is quickly pressed into service by her sister, who runs a leading dressmaking salon. Juliette falls in love with Karasvin, a young Russian count living the bohemian life in Montmartre as a sculptor and protege of Rodin. Her dreams of combining a career in haute couture with marriage to Karasvin are shattered, however, when he is summoned home to Czarist Russia for a long-arranged marriage to an aristocratic fiancee. Devastated and pregnant, Juliette retreats to a Tuscan villa to deliver the child and marries a Venetian silk merchant who vows to be a devoted father to her son. In a narrative that spans 11 years, she matures through the shattering effects of WWI, pursues her career with the legendary designer Fortuny and commits herself to her marriage despite her enduring love for Karasvin. Laker provides her usual cornucopia of period details, which animate the setting and, here, inform readers about the haute couture trade. While she colorfully recreates the events, milieu and mood of pre-and postwar Europe, however, she relies too often on dialogue to supply missing plot details. Still, readers of historical romance will again find her a sophisticated practitioner of the genre. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995 Release date: 04/01/1995 Genre: Fiction
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