I’m really so delighted today to be helping launch the blog tour for Falling in Louvre by Fiona Leitch, and sharing my review: independently published in July, this wonderful book is now available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited) and as a paperback. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the author for my reading e-copy.
One of the things I love so much about blog tours is that they provide the opportunity to read books from authors I might never have discovered had that invitation to review not plopped into my inbox. But I was already aware of Fiona Leitch’s writing – I knew she was a favourite of author Sandy Barker, but I very rarely read cosy mysteries and I’d just never got round to picking one up. But the moment I saw the blurb for this one (and the cover looked rather lovely too!) I just knew I had to try it. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever made a better decision – this book was just… oh go on, you read the blurb too, see if it has the same effect on you!
Bertrand is King of the Pigeons…
Unofficially. From his perch atop a gargoyle on Notre Dame cathedral, he surveys his kingdom. He sees Sylvie Cloutier, art lover and ex-antiques dealer, making dinner for her bullying husband Henri, trapped in their loveless marriage like a bird in a gilded cage. He sees security guard, hopeless romantic and bookworm Philippe Moreau cycling through the streets of Paris in his crumpled uniform, late (again) for his night shift at the museum.
When Sylvie begs her husband to let her go to work, he gets her a job as an evening cleaner at the Louvre. He thinks such a menial position will dispel any ideas about independence she might have, but his plan backfires when she falls in love with kind, gentle Philippe. They decide to run away together, but there’s a major problem: neither of them has any money.
One stormy night in the Louvre, the answer to their prayers falls into their lap… But is it really the solution, or just another, even bigger problem?
What follows is a romantic, wistful but madcap adventure through (and under) the city of lights, involving a stolen painting, an art heist in reverse, and Eric Cantona. Will love find a way?
‘A heartfelt, funny and romantic caper – a mashup masterpiece!’ – Sandy Barker, author of ‘That Night in Paris’.
I’ve never read a book quite like this one before – I went in expecting a romantic comedy, but it’s so very much more than that. Initially, I smiled at the way it started from the viewpoint of Bertrand the pigeon, then descending to street level and the lives of Sylvie and Philippe. She’s trapped in a controlling marriage, with memories of running her father’s antique shop before she made the worst decision of her life, unable to escape other than through the music she listens to in the hours when she’s alone – Philippe has found himself living back with his mother, in his childhood bedroom with the curtains covered in footballs and the poster of Eric Cantona on the wall, while he works on the nightshift as a security guard at the Louvre.
When Sylvie’s husband finds her a job, something she desperately wants to fill the empty hours, it’s not the one she expects – she’s to work at the Louvre too, but as a cleaner, although she’ll be surrounded by the paintings she loves and remembers in every detail after all the visits with her father. And when the couple meet – when he spots her gliding across the wet floor of the gallery, relishing her new-found freedom – they both know instantly that they’ve found “the one”.
The timing of the story is important – 2016, the city’s preparations for the hosting of the European Football Championships, and the weeks of rain that have caused the Seine to burst its banks and flood the underground city that lies below the capital. And when, one night, the Louvre experiences a weather-related power cut, the story takes a surreal turn – one of those moments of sheer madness that changes both their lives and takes the whole story in an entirely unexpected direction. And I really don’t want to tell you any more about the story – but I absolutely promise that you’ll love it every bit as much as I did.
I also promise that you’re going to love the two main characters, and the romance that develops – my heart ached for them, I was entirely invested in their story, and I was so desperate for them to find their happy ending. The comedy that runs through the book is quite wonderful – laugh out loud, but touched with the most fantastic moments of poignancy, and I found I often had a tear in my eye along with the constant smile on my face. The way the story develops is quite inspired, with a strong supporting cast to add depth and interest, and more than a few moments of drama with the most unexpected twists and turns. The book is a tribute to Paris itself – the author’s love for the city shines through – and the whole premise of the story is so very different and original. I adored the couple’s “adventures” – some of them taking them below the city, with some quite magical moments that will forever stay in my memory. There’s a wonderful pursuit sequence, a few moments that make you gasp, an uncertain outcome that has you on the edge of your seat – and then there are the cleverest touches of magic realism, but you’ll need to discover them with the same sense of delight that I did.
This really was one of those books that I want to thrust into people’s hands on the street and say “read it”. It’s just the kind of escapism that we all need after the rather grim time we’ve all had recently – it’ll whisk you away, break your heart at times, fill you with joy, and you’ll be as impressed as I was by the originality of the story and the way it’s told. On her Twitter feed, I notice the author said that it’s “more than a rom, more than a com, and I’m very proud of it” – she’s absolutely right, and so she should be. This was, without question, one of my books of the year – I entirely loved it.
About the author
Fiona Leitch is a writer with a chequered past. She’s written for football and motoring magazines, DJ’ed at illegal raves and is a stalwart of the low budget TV commercial, even appearing as the Australasian face of a cleaning product called ‘Sod Off’. After living in London and Cornwall she’s finally settled in sunny New Zealand, where she enjoys scaring her cats by trying out dialogue on them. She spends her days dreaming of retiring to a crumbling Venetian palazzo, walking on the windswept beaches of West Auckland, and writing funny, flawed but awesome female characters.
Her debut novel, Dead in Venice, was published by Audible as one of their Crime Grant scheme finalists, and her bestselling cosy mystery series, The Nosey Parker Mysteries, is published by One More Chapter/HarperCollins.