My rating: 3 of 5 stars
April Vogt is a furniture expert for an auction house. She is flown to Paris to help assess the value of the contents of an apartment that has been sealed for seventy years. The house is packed full of museum-quality pieces of furniture and a previously unknown portrait by Giovanni Boldini.
This is the perfect time for April to get away. Her marriage is strained and she thinks that time away will help her sort out her feelings. As she digs deeper into the story of the woman who owned the apartment, a courtesan named Marthe de Florian, she finds herself intrigued by the life of this woman who started from nothing and amassed this collection.
This book is based on a true incident described in this Wikipedia article:
Madame Marthe de Florian (Paris, France; 9 September 1864 – France; unknown date) born as Mathilde Héloïse Beaugiron was a little known French actress and demimondaine (courtesan) during the Belle Époque. She was known for having famous lovers including Georges Clemenceau (before becoming the 72nd Prime Minister of France), Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau (the 68th Prime Minister of France), Paul Deschanel (11th President of France), Gaston Doumergue (13th President of France), and the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. Her story resurfaced when in 2010 her belongings were discovered in a Parisian apartment, untouched for nearly 70 years, like in a time capsule.
I liked the story of Marthe de Florian but wasn’t as interested in the story of April’s life. I thought she was pretty whiny especially in the part of her story about her parents. I tend not to care about anyone’s childhood trauma. Grow up and move on.