Paris, 1956. Eighteen year old Daphné may be from a tiny French village, but she knows she’s destined for more. Stepping off a bus into bustling Paris with a suitcase full of her home-made beauty products, she’s ready to do whatever it takes to claim her stake in the world.
London, 2016. Scandalous love affairs and an iconic cosmetics brand have kept Daphné Le Marche in spotlight – but her darkest secrets have never come to light. Now, in her London penthouse, enveloped in her rich signature scent, the Grande Dame of glamour has died.
But not even those closest to her could have been prepared for what came next.
I will admit that the great cover and an intriguing title was the initial draw with this book but thankfully it also had the content to match. It’s a great family saga of unspoken secrets, family jealousies and a cast of characters that are a mix of like-able and sympathetic, versus the spoilt and detestable via a couple that are redeemable.
The starting point for the story is Daphne Le Marche, matriarch and head of renowned Le Marche cosmetics, making amendments to her will. Amendments that will have dramatic repercussions as she by-passes her son Robert to bequeath the company to her grand-daughters. The magnitude of this action and the reasoning behind it becomes apparent as the family history is gradually laid bare.
The story is told in alternating time frames revealing the story of Daphne’s rise to fame from country herbalist to Parisian Grande Dame. Interspersed we have the modern day machinations of the detestable Robert to regain his inheritance from his spoilt and initially unpleasant daughter Celeste and her somewhat gauche cousin Billie (Sybilla).
If I’m honest I enjoyed Daphne’s story the most. She was strong, determined, capable and like-able, qualities which Robert failed to inherit. Her story had me hooked and kept me intrigued when I occasionally lost patience with the contemporary world of wealth and privilege. However as the scandals and secrets tumbled out of the (very large) closet it was impossible not to be hooked. It was never clear whether the past would totally fracture the newly emerging relationships and friendships or whether it would destroy them forever.
The book offered far more than the cover might suggest, it had a depth I hadn’t foreseen and was at times quite dark and unpleasant (or more precisely several of the men were). It was also good to see realistic female characters that responded positively to life changing challenges.
Overall an engaging family saga ideal for curling up with.
I received a review copy via NetGalley in return for an honest review