SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Bonjour, Reds and lovely readers! Er, hello... Still walking on air after the Paris trip, to research Maggie Hope #7, THE PARIS SPY.
But meanwhile, no rest for the wicked. The ARC (Advance Readers Copy) of THE QUEEN'S ACCOMPLICE is out! Huzzah! (And if you're a book blogger and would like to request a NetGalley copy, please contact publicist Alex Coumbis at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Meanwhile, it's my job to go over the ARC, to make the last corrections. As you see, I have Lola, trusty editrix extraordinnaire, at my side during the process....
But back to Paris! I went solo, for ten days, with a primitive grasp of French and a long list of sites I wanted to visit for my research. I'm happy to report that I made it through the whole trip speaking only French — with just a bit of Spanish thrown in. (Studied Spanish for eight years, so comes out sometimes when I try other Romance languages.)
For this trip, I wasn't doing "tourist Paris" — it really was all about researching the Nazi occupation during the spring of 1942, a few months before the infamous July 16 Vel' d'Hiv roundup of the Jews.
To that end, one of my first stops was the Musée de la Armée — the Army Museum. Where most people beeline to the tomb of Napoleon, I spent my day in the World War I and World War II sections, as well as the Charles DeGaulle exhibit.
I took photos of the parts I found most interesting:
But it was this graffito, part of a preserved wall — V for Victory plus the symbol of the Résistance — that really was a game changer for me. With every book, I've found a place or a thing that's the catalyst to making it all come alive for me. This was it. Whoever wrote this symbol risked certain death if caught. And still, she or he did it, as part of the fight, no matter how small.
I found it powerful.
Of course, not everything was quite so serious. Here's a gorgeous Elsa Schiaparelli dress from 1942, which I saw at the Louvre Mode and Textile Museum. (It was probably made for and worn by the wife of a high-ranking collaborator or the mistress of a Nazi officer.)
It was part of an exhibit of French fashion throughout history:
And here are some chic chien:
And hey, isn't that Aimee Leduc's detective agency's sign, from Cara Black's fantastic series? (If only Maggie and Aimee could meet....)
On the darker end of the spectrum, I did visit Avenue Fochs, home of Gestapo Headquarters in Paris:
The fifth floor, what used to be the servants quarters, is where the Gestapo kept Résistance workers and captured British agents, while "interrogation" took place in the cellar.
However, I found this early-blooming iris, the "fleur de lis" and symbol of France, growing opposite.
SUSAN: I hope you enjoyed the photos! Is Paris the setting of any of your favorite books? I recently reread Dickens' A TALE OF TWO CITIES and remembered why I loved it so much in high school. And, of course, I'm a huge fan of Cara Black's Aimee Leduc novels.
What are your favorite novels set in Paris or France? Please tell us in the comments!