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368 pages, Mass Market Paperback
First published May 26, 2010
Hawker followed him, crunching glass into the gravel. “The boys in that stinking little village waited years to do this.”This is the tone for the majority of the book. All the filth of the terror regime, the atrocities, are filtered with this approach to maintain distance but not making light of it. I’ll get to Hawker later, by the way.
“They dreamed of it. They’d sit in those pig houses in the village with the shutters closed and the wind leaking in. They’d think about these fancy weeds in here, being coddled, all warm and happy behind glass. Down there, they were freezing in the dark. Up here, they were growing flowers.”
“That’s fixed, then. No more flowers.”
Terror terror terror.Shortly after letting the rabbit go, she hears a man and boy approach the ruins of her chateau. He calls himself Guillaume LeBreton, but Marguerite knows he’s lying. And indeed, Guillaume LeBreton is William Doyle, British spy, in search of Marguerite’s father, who may have been responsible for the deaths of British officers.
It had been a mistake to look so closely at the rabbit. She should not have talked to it.
He fed her and pretended to be harmless. He was subtly intelligent. He was a pillar of deception from the long, untidy hair he shook down to hide his face to the worn soles of his boots. Such a man did not wander to her chateau by accident.Besides, Marguerite is also the head of La Flèche, a group of people, who get aristocrats out of the country into safety.
“You know I am Marguerite de Fleurignac. You have always known.”It’s this dry humour paired with a certain subtlety that gives Marguerite’s and Guillaume’s growing feelings depth; their time is limited so each word counts doubly. But it’s without the aforementioned pathos. It’s tender as well as raw. Watching them together, being with them was precious.
“From the first minute,” he said equably.
“You did not mention it.”
“Seemed impolite to contradict you. [….]
“I am not a virgin,” she said.
There was enough light to see him smile.
“That’s a coincidence. Neither am I.”
“What you are is a great treasure-house of sarcasm.”
I am drowning in this woman and I don’t want to swim free. This is the one. This is the one I’ll give up the Service for. Yesterday or the day before, or maybe the first time he’d seen her, he’d made the decision. While he wasn’t noticing, his mind thought it out and argued it through and settled it. His Maggie. It already sounded natural.Natural. That’s what it is between them. Not once did the question pop up in my head ‘So, why are they in love?’
Paris had changed, even in the three months she’d been away. It was more shadowed. More afraid. Darker. Fear seeped from the mortar of the houses, from the cobbles of the streets. It was like coming again to the home of an old grandmother, with each visit finding her a little weaker, a little more mad.I’ll never tire of repeating myself in pointing out how rare it is - in a genre where a HEA is a forgone conclusion - when an author can make me worry and wonder how the two main characters will come together. The secondary characters are very important here. Who is working for whom? What are their back stories? Hawker, in particular, Guillaume’s young ‘apprentice’, could have been easily portrayed as his sidekick. But he’s so much more.
Why are all the best women French spies? Bad planning on somebody’s part.
"You have not been foolish," she said. "But you have been unlucky. The results are indistinguishable."
The rabbit said nothing... She had caught it.
"The analogies to my own situation are clear. I do not like them."
"Do you know. . . in the city of Paris there are magic birds? You can see them in the trees sometimes, just for a moment, if you look quickly.... They are red as rubies and green as emeralds. Some are golden. The golden ones are the smallest. They are the bravest and most wise."
”I have fallen in love. It does not change anything.” – Marguerite de Fleurignac
“I don’t have to like everything I do.” - William Doyle
page 283 - Marguerite and William
”I was waiting for you. I will always be waiting for you.”
“You…” he breathed out. “Damn.”
Think of my enthusiasm, at night, when you are in dangerous places. You will know that I am waiting for you. I shall, of course, take lovers, but I will shove them swiftly out of the house when you arrive. You must pretend not to notice their coattails disappearing around the corner.”
“Right.” His hands were confident and amused, drawing her in. “Good thing I’m not a jealous man.”