In the years before the war, Sylvie Charlot was a leading light in Paris fashion with many friends among musicians, artists and writers. Now she is largely forgotten.  

Spending time in Paris during a break in his acting career, Colin Mallory sees a striking portrait of Sylvie.  Some think it is a late work by Édouard Vuillard but there is no signature or documentary evidence to support this view.
The picture has some unusual qualities, not least the presence of a shadow of something that cannot be seen. Perhaps the picture was once larger.  

#ThePurpleShadow #ChristopherBowden @Zooloo’s Book Tours @zooloo2008 #ZooloosBookTours #blogtour

Colin feels an odd sense of connection with Sylvie, who seems to be looking at him, appealing to him, wanting to tell him something.  Despite a warning not to pursue his interest in her portrait, he is determined to find out more about the painting, who painted it, and why it was hidden for many years.  
 Colin’s search takes him back to the film and theatre worlds of Paris and London in the 1930s – and to a house in present-day Sussex.

As he uncovers the secrets of Sylvie’s past, her portrait seems to take on a life of its own.    

My Review

When out-of-work actor Colin Mallory is invited to dinner at the Paris home of Madame Ducasse, he is drawn to a painting of Sylvie Charlot, a leading light in Paris fashion in the 1930s. Many of her friends and peers were musicians, artists and writers, but now she is largely forgotten.

Colin is unsure why he so fascinated. Maybe it’s simply the beauty of the picture and its subject, maybe it’s the fact that there is a purple shadow on the rug in front of her which seems to come from nowhere, or maybe it’s that Sophie’s expression changes each time he looks and the shadow appears to move. His friend, art expert Paul agrees with him.

It’s a marvelous painting and is thought to be a late work by celebrated artist Édouard Vuillard. However, there is no signature or documentary evidence to support this view. Colin believes that the portrait is half of a bigger one and the shadow is that of another figure. He is determined to discover who else was in the picture.

His search takes him back to the film and theatre worlds of pre-war Paris and London, a dashing actor called Charles Kent, and to a house in present-day Sussex.  

This is a gorgeous, mysterious, clever story and I absolutely loved it.

Many thanks to @zooloo2008 for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.

About the Author

Christopher Bowden lives in south London. He is the author of six novels, each with a colour theme. His books have been praised variously by Andrew Marr, Julian Fellowes, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Shena Mackay. Of his third novel, The Red House, Sir Derek said, “Very entertaining, cleverly constructed and expertly paced. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Follow him at:

Buy Links
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1 Comment on “The Purple Shadow by Christopher Bowden

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