Crossing on the Paris
On June 15, 1921, the French liner Paris, combining Art Nouveau with Art Moderne in its lush, elegant interior design, left Le Havre on its maiden voyage to New York. Aboard in first class is Mrs. Vera Sinclair, an American heiress, who has been an expatriate living in Paris since 1890. She is in ill health and travelling with her maid. Vera regrets her decision to leave Paris and her dearest friend, Charles Wood, and spends most of the voyage reading her journals and revisiting her past. Mrs. Constance Stone is a second-class passenger, returning to her home in Worcester, Massachusetts, after a visit to Paris in a failed attempt to persuade her sister to return home with her. Once aboard, Constance begins to see herself as a modern liberated woman. Her new-found confidence is inspired by the admiration of the ship’s doctor. Also, on this maiden voyage is Julie Vernet, a native of Le Havre, who has just received her assignment from the French Line to work as a server in the third-class dining room. Very young and innocent, Julie learns a wealth of life’s hard lessons during the sailing and manages to survive, battered but unbowed. During the five-day voyage, these three women’s paths cross and re-cross as their stories unfold, until the last night when they meet and form a unique bond of friendship.
In this debut novel, Gynther has skillfully woven three stories each with its own heroine who is embarking on the maiden voyage of the Paris, which was originally launched in 1913, but its completion was postponed due to World War I. This is a pleasant novel, nicely written, and enjoyable to read.