The Shoe Queen
Trade Paperback/416 pages
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". . .immerses readers in Paris in the 1920s . . ."
The Shoe Queen demonstrates lush language, and the story moves quickly. The author immerses readers in Paris in the 1920s as bohemian artists, writers and artistes pursue creative activities. The heroine, Lady Genevieve, endeavors to become a member of their social scene by way of her mediocre poetry.
The daughter of a dictatorial Viscount, Genevieve is finally provided with a means to escape him by marrying a wealthy American visiting the family estate. The American visitor envisions taking a wife of nobility back to Boston to become the envy of their social set. Lady G sees him as a means to fulfill her dreams away from her brutish and cruel father whom she hates.
Because her husband is besotted with her, the new Genevieve Shelby King makes her new husband to agree to live in Paris. He grants her every wish, and she uses his wealth to pave her way into the bohemian literary scene of Paris. But getting involved in this party crowd challenges her marriage and her husband’s trust.
Genevieve’s other obsession is shoes—she owns some 523 pairs. A special room contains her designer shoes along with the very first pair of black patent Mary Janes that her mother bought for her. This pair of shoes occupy a special place in her closet and in her heart. It is hard for her to admit the meaning that these shoes hold in her life.
However, there is one designer who refuses to provide shoes for her. She becomes obsessed with owning a pair of his creations. Ultimately, he does agree to design for her. As he measures her feet, she becomes almost orgasmic and begins to dream of making love with this, new exciting, man. As she gets entangled in the web of lies she tells to be with him, she finds that the literary world disappoints her.
She is forced to confront the emptiness and shallowness of her elaborately designed life and the dark secret of her past—her unwanted pregnancy so many years ago. This secret almost destroys her until the elusive shoe designer, Zachari, awakens her to a passion she never imagined. She is willing to sacrifice anything to be with him.
When her husband announces he wants to have a child, it forces her to accept that she abhors everything about him, especially his touch. She must escape him now, too, as she once had to escape her father. She asks Zachari, who is now her lover, to run away with her. But he does not show up at their rendezvous. She swallows her pride to seek him out, only to find that his life is more convoluted than hers. She then accepts that she must give him up.
Genevieve is forced to make some decisions about her life. She can never be happy back in England with her father, and she can not go back to her boring husband. While she’d never be a poet, she was a decent patron of the arts and a talented caricature artist. She decides that Paris is where her future lies. A future without a man to lean on.
The author weaves all segments together without interrupting the descent into the abyss Genevieve is creating in her search for herself in the guise of her search for creativity. Genevieve’s acceptance of who she really is propels the reader to understand how her past influenced her present and future. The Shoe Queen is a marvelous read that gets better with each chapter.
Reviewer: Sandra McCart