4 Enthusiastic Stars for Mireille
This book popped up as one of my Kindle Daily Deals. I read the synopsis and knew I had to give this one a try. Anyone who is a fan of a sweeping epic about how people somehow find a way to survive the unimaginable will want to pick up this book.
Mireille de Jouarre is 17 years old in 1945 and living in German occupied France with her nasty stepmother and her German sympathizer stepfather. A life-threatening event drives her from her childhood home into the countryside where she has a chance meeting with her childhood friend Stefan. They fall in love but the ending of the war has not yet come and these are still dangerous times. Stefan doesn’t come home and Mireille is forced to flee for her life to Paris.
Once in Paris, Mireille finds out that she is pregnant and now she’s alone. Through another series of unfortunate events, she finds herself in the employ of one of the most elite escort services in Paris. She becomes l’Ange, the Angel, the most celebrated courtesan since Madame Pompadour. In this new life, she meets an American producer, Oliver Jordan. She then transitions into the mysterious starlet, Mireille. Her past is her secret and is one that is held over her head by the person who discovered her and made her a star. Through this poisoned relationship the life of her daughter is threatened and Mireille must make a very deadly decision, one that will impact her life and the lives of those she holds dearest to her.
This really is an epic novel spanning nearly 50 years. You meet Mireille in 1945 as a trapped 17 year old and last see her in 1993. In that time she makes several transformations and goes through unimaginable hardships. She was once named Fortune’s Child by her lover Stefan. But you fail to find any fortune in most of her life. If the story wasn’t so well written and so full fantastic imagery, it would be depressing! But it wasn’t hard to put aside the “what else can happen to this poor woman?!” and just continue reading. I was completely immersed from start to finish.
The characters were amazingly put together and you found yourself being both drawn to and repelled by them. Mireille was a very sympathetic figure, even though you found yourself wanting to scream at her in frustration. But how many women are in an abusive or unhealthy relationship that simply can’t see it? This happens to Mireille more than once and you find yourself rooting for her. Oliver Jordan…in a word…smarmy! The quintessential Hollywood bad-boy and then some! I think I spent half the book coming up with ways I’d like to get rid of him! Even the secondary characters came to life. Barbara, the red-headed spitfire who Mireille both lives and works with while she is in Paris fairly leaps off the page, you love her attitude and her no nonsense style. She becomes one of Mireille’s very few friends.
There is quite a bit of sexual content in this book, but it’s done tastefully and is never overdone. There are a few fairly graphic scenes, but they fit with the story. There is some harsh language and some fairly violent situations.
Epic love story that spans 5 decades, women who pick themselves up and move on after horrific circumstances, characters that you can almost reach out and touch. All of these things bring me to give Mireille 4 stars.