Publishing year: 2015
The book starts in Paris in 1940.
Three young women, Coraline de Lirac, Una McBride, and Tilly go to a night club. As far as I understand, their intention is to get some documents for Tilly to leave Paris to freedom. Tilly is a German Jew, and she is in danger of being apprehended. The club is full of German soldiers, and as the three women display their buoyancy, the club owner is all solicitous, and as Coraline rummages in Tilly’s bag for her cigarette case, Tilly’s old real identity card falls, and the club owner, who has come to say that three German officers want to enjoy their company, sees the card and realises that Tilly is a Jew and is putting him in danger. Then when the Germans come to their table, the club owner, Serge Martel, mentions something about old identities, and Coraline reflects that maybe he knows she is not really a French heiress at all.
The novel moves back three years before in time. Coraline is actually Cora Masson, Belgian, and the daughter of a violent man, who doesn’t hesitate to punch her. Her mother left them with an actor years ago, and I think Cora dreams of leaving as well. Her best friend is Donal Flynn, whose grandmother runs a laundry and is a neighbour of Cora’s. Cora works in a hat factory, and today that was the Derby Day, a group of workers were given permission to go to the races, and one of them was Cora. Yet, her father discovered that she has kept some of the money, so he waited for her and punched her, and only Donal came to defend her. So all this delayed Cora, and now the busses taking her to the races are gone. So she tells Donal that they will both go, and after persuading Donal’s granny to let him have the afternoon off, they get to go.
Interesting start. I am curious to learn more about Cora and how she ended up in Paris and masquerading as a French rich woman.