Set in a Paris darkened by World War II, Sara Houghteling s sweeping and sensuous debut novel tells the story of a son s quest to recover his family s lost masterpieces, looted by the Nazis during the occupation.
Born to an art dealer and his pianist wife, Max Berenzon is forbidden from entering the family business for reasons he cannot understand. He reluctantly attends medical school, reserving his true passion for his father s beautiful and brilliant gallery assistant, Rose Clément. When Paris falls to the Nazis, the Berenzons survive in hiding. They return in 1944 to find that their priceless collection has vanished. Madly driven to recover his father s paintings, Max navigates a torn city of corrupt art dealers, black marketers, Résistants, and collaborators. His quest will reveal the tragic disappearance of his closest friend, the heroism of his lost love, and the truth behind a devastating family secret.
…captivating…At one point, Max's father explains that he likes the Impressionists because they "let your eye finish the picture." The same could be said of Houghteling's elegant prose. Max's voice is at once crisp and poetic, detailed and spare. While the second half of the book turns into a cat-and-mouse chase, the story is layered with vignettes that give it deeper resonance. Max may not succeed in recovering much of his father's stolen art, but the quest gives his life purpose and the novel substance. In a book about coming to terms with loss, things continue to exist even in their absence. The paintings may be gone, but there is always the music.