Today I am so excited to be reviewing The Purple Shadow by Christopher Bowden. Thank you to Zoe-Lee from https://zooloosbookdiary.co.uk/zooloos-blog-tours for organising this tour and to Christopher Bowden for a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
A beautifully crafted, atmospheric and absorbing story with a strong sense of place and a compelling cast of characters. In the years before the war, Sylvie Charlot was a leading light in Paris fashion with many friends among musicians, artists and writers. Now she is largely forgotten. Spending time in Paris during a break in his acting career, Colin Mallory sees a striking portrait of Sylvie. Some think it is a late work by Édouard Vuillard but there is no signature or documentary evidence to support this view.
The picture has some unusual qualities, not least the presence of a shadow of something that cannot be seen. Perhaps the picture was once larger. Colin feels an odd sense of connection with Sylvie, who seems to be looking at him, appealing to him, wanting to tell him something. Despite a warning not to pursue his interest in her portrait, he is determined to find out more about the painting, who painted it, and why it was hidden for many years.
Colin’s search takes him back to the film and theatre worlds of Paris and London in the 1930s – and to a house in present-day Sussex. As he uncovers the secrets of Sylvie’s past, her portrait seems to take on a life of its own.
The Purple Shadow was an intriguing and atmospheric novel that was a complete surprise.
Set in the present day, and 1930s Paris, this is a charming tale with an air of mystery and romance. In the present day, an actor looking for work (Colin) is spending some time in Paris and is invited to a small dinner party. He is drawn to a painting in the home of his host and becomes fascinated by it – coming to the conclusions the purple shadow he can see means the picture was once larger. He discovers the painting is of Sylvie Charlot. As Colin becomes more sucked in by the painting and more determined to find its origins, he ignores warnings to leave the past in the past. What are the secrets of the painting and Sylvie Charlot?
I can’t recall reading any books set in 1930’s Paris and I love Paris as a country and as a setting for novels. I really enjoyed the trip there and to be part of fashion scene in 1930’s Paris was so much fun. Bowden described it with such detail, and it really did feel as though I was there.
There was an eerie, malevolent feel to some parts of the book and I loved how it contrasted with the glitz, glamour and beauty. I had no idea where this story was going to lead and I enjoyed the mystery surrounding the plot and the painting and the direction it would take me.
The Purple Shadow is an enjoyable read and great escapism for a few hours.
Author Bio – Christopher Bowden
Christopher Bowden lives in south London. He is the author of six novels, each with a colour theme. His books have been praised variously by Andrew Marr, Julian Fellowes, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Shena Mackay. Of his third novel, The Red House, Sir Derek said, “Very entertaining, cleverly constructed and expertly paced. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
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