Tuesday, April 06, 2021

The French Paradox by Ellen Crosby

First Line: I found out about my grandfather's affair with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis when I read my grandmother's diaries-- ironically over Valentine's Day weekend.

The death of world-renowned landscape architect Parker Lord ripped vineyard owner Lucie Montgomery's attention from her rapidly approaching wedding. Not only did she find the body of her friend in her own vineyard, but she also had to wonder why he died. Was it because of his controversial book on climate change? Or did it have something to do with the fact that he violently opposed Harriet Delacroix's plans to use Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's private journal entries to drum up interest for her own book?

Lucie had only recently learned of the affair Jackie had had with her beloved grandfather when Jackie went to Paris for a year in 1949, and she can't wait to talk with him about it. However, as much as she wants to speak with her grandfather, Lucie won't be able to rest until she finds out why Parker Lord died-- and who's responsible.

~

I have a guilty confession to make. This is the eleventh book in Ellen Crosby's delectable Wine Country mystery series, and although I've greatly enjoyed every one that I've read, I haven't even read half of the series. Now that The French Paradox is one of my Best Reads of 2021, I should have more incentive to read the rest. 

What makes The French Paradox-- and the entire series-- so good? Having also read the two books in Crosby's Sophie Medina series (please, ma'am, I want some more!), I have to say it's because Crosby's writing is a feast for the intelligent, curious reader. If you love strong characters, intriguing mysteries, history, art, literature, vivid settings, learning about winemaking, and more, this is an author you should not miss. I read this book with a smile on my face because I felt as though I were spending time with a kindred spirit.

Whenever Crosby uses historical figures in her books, as she does in The French Paradox, she does so with great sensitivity and after doing much research. I am of the age where one of the defining moments of my life is knowing exactly where I was when I learned that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. (Sitting in my third grade classroom.) I have a great deal of respect for the Kennedys, and I doubt very much that any of the clan would be upset with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's portrayal in this book.

Another reason to like this book is Crosby's drawing attention to the artist Élisabeth Vigée le Brun, friend to Marie Antoinette of France and the highest paid portrait painter of her day. Vigée le Brun is a fascinating figure in her own right and certainly deserves more recognition. The mere mention of the artist's name reminds me of the first time I ever saw one of her works. Marvelous!

I called The French Paradox a feast for the intelligent, curious reader, and as you can see by my review, I savored every page. I haven't even mentioned the vivid Virginia setting or the deep roots main character Lucie Montgomery's family has in the area. If you haven't read any of Ellen Crosby's Wine Country mysteries, I urge you to do so. The French Paradox can be read as a standalone, but don't be surprised if you discover you're hungry for more.

The French Paradox by Ellen Crosby
eISBN: 9781448304967
Severn House Publishers © 2021
eBook, 256 pages
 
Amateur Sleuth, #11 Wine Country mystery
Rating: A+
Source: Net Galley

14 comments:

  1. Oh, my, where has this series been all my life, Cathy? The vineyard context, the strong characters, the interesting mysteries... I can see why you liked this one so very much. I am definitely noting Crosby's name for further tasting!

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    1. Good! It's a series that I think you will enjoy.

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  2. I, also, like this author's work but had let The Wine Country Mystery series drop for some reason many years ago. I always planned to read the next book but never did. It would be at the back of my mind whenever I saw a review for a book in the series, that I had to get back to it. I just went upstairs and looked in a tub of books and there was The Bordeaux Betrayal waiting to be read. It has a Borders book store sticker on it. I think Borders went out of business in 2011. It is now downstairs with the current books to read. I do like the series and it is time to get back to it.

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    1. It's good to see that you'll be getting back to it, Lynn. I need to read the ones I've missed.

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  3. Your enthusiastic review makes me immediately want The French Paradox!

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  4. This definitely sounds like a series I would enjoy! I really appreciate when an author uses historical figures with sensitivity.

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  5. Do any of her books remain in the current day? Historical fiction isn't my thing, with some exceptions, like Jess Montgomery and som eothers. And as for Marie Antoinette, I would have been knitting next to Madame LeFarge, I think. "Let them eat cake" was so awful an insult to the starving poor people.

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    1. This series is set in the present day, not the past. When in doubt, you can always check the fine print at the very bottom of the review. If it doesn't say "historical fiction" or "historical mystery," you're good to go.

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  6. I have to admit that I'm a little surprised to see that this one is based on affair of Jackie's. That's not the image I would have had of her until maybe long after the assassination. BTW, I was sitting in my 10th grade biology class that day...and almost immediately got into a fistfight with the guy sitting behind me when he laughed and cheered at the news.

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    1. This is a fictional affair, not an actual one, although Jackie did spend that time in Paris.

      My third grade teacher tended to be an old sour puss, so I was shocked when she cried as she told us the news. Afterwards, I wanted to do bodily harm to the boys who raced out of the school laughing and happy because they got out of class early.

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  7. I was in high school and we were all called into the auditorium and then JFK's death was announced.

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    1. It is, indeed, one of those moments you remember if you lived through it.

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