Tuesday 16 July 2013

Review: The Girl Behind the Fan by Stella Knightley [Hidden Women trilogy, book 2]

Warning: There are spoilers beyond this point. Check out my review of The Girl Behind the Mask first.

Hurt and confused by the sudden end of her strange love affair with Venetian millionaire Marco Donato, Sarah Thomson is persuaded to take her bruised heart to Paris by her ex-boyfriend Steven, who is hoping for a reconciliation. While she and Steven rekindle their psychologically and sexually tortured relationship, Sarah tries to forget her yearning for Marco by throwing herself into a new project: a study of the life of notorious nineteenth-century courtesan, Augustine Levert, whose sensual charms parted many a man from his fortune.

But when her life begins to parallel Augustine's story, Sarah realises she will never erase Marco from her heart. Faced with a choice between safety and overwhelming passion, will both women make the right decision? (via Goodreads)

Though it started off a little slowly, it wasn't long before I found The Girl Behind the Fan even more absorbing than its predecessor.

Much like The Girl Behind the Mask, there's a good balance between the stories, and the switches in perspective are well-timed. I loved how a few of the latter chapters would end on a cliffhanger for one of the girls and, instead of immediately finding out what happens to her, the next chapter changes its perspective to the other girl. Sure, I might have cursed the book at the time, but I quickly realised this as a fantastic way of creating suspense.

But that's not to say that there's a shortage of suspense within the rest of the novel. The Girl Behind the Fan is darker than the previous instalment, what with the return of Sarah's ex-boyfriend Steven and the introduction of Augustine Levert's turbulent life, so there are a variety of uneasy, and sometimes shocking, occurrences.

I also loved Augustine. Her narrative is utterly compelling and at times heartbreaking, so I couldn't help but feel an attachment to her. Be prepared to have some tissues to hand whilst reading her point-of-view!

Altogether, The Girl Behind the Fan continues Sarah's unique tale with great sensuality, intelligence, history, and a beautifully realised Paris. By then end of it, you'll be begging for the next book – I know I am!

Rating: 4 / 5