Published in 2012, The Siren of Paris is the author's debut novel, a story about World War II. The book starts as a long flashback from the protagonist's grave to tell Marc Tolbert's story, which begins in 1939, when he leaves America and travels to Paris to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. Young and free, he becomes friends with an older woman, Dora, who introduces him to an elite group that includes Sylvia Beach, the owner of the bookstore Shakespeare & Company. Marc accepts a job with William Bullitt, the U.S. ambassador to France, and meets leaders of other countries.
The Siren of Paris is a war story unlike any other that I've read, because it's about the German occupation in Paris. While reading this book, I could hear the distinct, ominous sirens in my head. This novel is finely-crafted historical fiction about World War II, and it had a firm hold on my attention throughout. It's a war story, and it's also a love story. At École Nationale Supérieure, Marc finds himself increasingly attracted to the alluring nude model, Marie.
I admired LeRoy's intelligent and lucid writing, although some of the descriptions of war events, "relived" by Marc, are difficult to read, as you'd expect. However, sometimes I wasn't quite sure if what I was reading was supposed to be a dream, or real; time frames were blurry and unclear to me at times, although this could have been intentional; it was a bit confusing, although it did not detract too much from the novel. Marc seemed suspended between life and death, and between the past and present. This gives the book a dreamlike quality, although the brutal and senseless realities of war are illustrated on numerous pages.
"The door flew open to Marc's cell, and he woke to the guards screaming at him. He struggled to stand at attention. The same drama played out over and over again nearly every hour for three days, until finally, the door flew open, and Marc did not stand. The guards dragged him from the cell and kicked him in the hallway. Marc then woke up."
~The Siren of Paris, David LeRoy
La guerre, c'est l'enfer.
Thanks to Stephanie Ward and David LeRoy for including me in this book blog tour for The Siren of Paris. Comments are welcomed.