About the book:
Le Prix d’Amour, a vibrant Paris cabaret, is caught in the crossfire of the occupation. Everyone is being watched, and some of Le Prix’s colourful performers are hiding dangerous secrets. Monsieur Maurice manages Le Prix d’Amour, a successful Parisian cabaret, which boasts glitzy performers and sassy showgirls. But with the German occupation in June 1940, Maurice treads a fine line between his German patrons, the French police and the Gestapo as he hides the dark secrets of his performers. Two of his lively showgirls, Lily and Poppy, soon join Maurice in the hunt for an informer who threatens to betray them. With the Allied landings, the tension builds, and Maurice is pushed to his limits as his performers finally take the fight to the invader in their own flamboyant way. Secrets and Showgirls portrays an occupied Paris in which exotic cabarets existed uneasily under the heel of the invader. It follows the antics of Maurice, Lily and a glittering array of characters, but never loses sight of the battle to survive that characterised the life of the everyday Parisian.
Secrets and Showgirls piqued my interest instantly – the glitz and glamour of the cabaret intertwined with the tense backdrop of Paris under German occupation.
The book skims over darker plotlines in favour of humour, camaraderie, and vivacious characters as colourful as their cabaret setting. I enjoyed the birds-eye view of the group rather than a focus on one protagonist. Watching them form a family and band together to survive occupied Paris was one of my favourite things about the book. Other highlights were the details that made Secrets and Showgirls a fantastic glimpse into the life in 1940s Paris. Despite possessing a more plentiful supply of cognac than the average Parisian, The Le Prix d’Amour family still felt the brunt of food shortages, leading to some culinary challenges with hedgehogs and badgers…
Spirited and atmospheric, Secrets and Showgirls is an entertaining escape into a dynamic wartime Paris cabaret – one I could easily imagine on the screen.
Catherine McCullagh completed a Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) at the Australian National University in Canberra and taught English, History and languages at secondary and pre-tertiary level. She then embarked on a military career spending twenty years as an officer in the Australian Army as a teacher and linguist. On leaving the Army she established herself as a freelance editor, working primarily with military history volumes published by the Australian Army History Unit. She has two published non-fiction works to her name, Willingly into the Fray, a narrative history of Australian Army nursing which she compiled and edited, and War Child, the poignant memoir of a woman who grew up in pre-war Germany, which she ghost-wrote for Annette Janic, whose mother is the subject of the story. Catherine’s first novel, Dancing with Deception, a historical fiction novel based in World War II, was published in 2017. Secrets and Showgirls is her second historical fiction novel and is also based in World War II, exploring the world of the cabaret in occupied Paris.
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