Review: The Black Swan Of Paris by Karen Robards

Prepared to be swept off your feet with Robards historical fiction debut of the year!

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The Black Swan of Paris is a wonderful historical fiction novel full of lies, war, loss, love and espionage. Robards has curated such a whisping yet luring romantic relationship between Max and Genevive that literally fills you with hope and love. The beginning of the novel was a little unsettling in the beginning because your trying to figure out what this Genevive is about. She comes across as a privileged, troubled woman that drowns her sorrows in champagne – hard life. This all becomes obvious in the plot when she confides her past and lies. What you don’t realise is the first few chapters are setting you up for later in the book. Robards paints a dark, cold and bleak picture of Paris during the war.

The term ‘Black Swan’ is an “unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences. Black swan events are characterized by their extreme rarity, their severe impact, and the widespread insistence they were obvious in hindsight”.

The genius attributes to this novel is the strength of feminism and the representation of a ‘War Bird’. The above term ‘Black Swan’ symbolises throughout the novel through different plot twists (like the German’s actions and the agents actions to solve or prevent these). Robards does not fail to give you a novel full of plot twists and dramatic effects. There is a huge moment at the end of the book actually represents a specific moment in history towards the end of the war, potentially being a “widespread insistence” just like the moment before this point in the book. Sorry, we are trying not to spoil it but are trying to give you hints! So what we are trying to say is that there is a lot of foreshadowing (predicting) and symbolism relating to the definition of the title. The beauty is that you can’t actually guess what will happen; we tried.

The feminism comes off really strong. WWII was the point in history where women weren’t used to being in the social limelight. They were branded as home makers like Lillian (Genevive’s Mother). It’s interesting that Robard came up with the War Bird concept among her story because they were usually more influential than glamour women so this puts Genevive’s reputation above and beyond that. Her and her sister play alongside the Rosie the Riveter movement. We admired Max for respecting the ladies decisions when making plans towards the end. We must mention that Max is an absolute gentleman, truly love him!Although three on one, he didn’t oblige much to their ideas and they all heavily agreed with each other. There was reassurance for the characters at this point as their life was about to be in danger once again.

Our favourite part about this book is when Max meets Genevive’s Sister Emmy for the first time. The humour between Max and Genevive is not stand up style but there are tones that suggest the pair are comfortable around each other, know each other well enough and still forgive each other. Even her mother’s secrets are almost laughed about! If it was any other novel, there would have been a whole screaming match and they wouldn’t have spoken for days. It wasn’t like that in The Black Swan Of Paris. Everyone supported each other. It’s relieving to read a book with humour, history, drama and love. Robard’s research is really on point. When conducting some background research on things she’s mentioned like Citroën and Mercedes, it proves everything mentioned had a part to play in the war. Research it for yourself; it was interesting! We give much praise to this book and look forwards to another book like this one from her!

The Black Swan Of Paris is to be released on 30th June 2020.


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