Picks and Pans Review: Twilight

updated 07/11/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/11/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Katherine Mosby

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When her dullard fiancé finally kisses her, Lavinia Gibbs, the heroine of Katherine Mosby's evocative third novel, Twilight, realizes that she cannot marry a passionless man. The broken engagement scandalizes Lavinia's wealthy New York family, who gladly finance her escape to France. Set in the 1930s, Twilight evokes the tension of the building war as a backdrop to Lavinia's search for true romance in Paris. She finds the ardent lover she has longed for in Gaston, a married man who hires her to help him sell an apartment. They plunge into an affair, replete with feverish letters and steamy rendezvous. But as their relationship progresses, so does Hitler's march into France. Lavinia refuses to return to America in spite of the increasing danger, and eventually Gaston reveals a secret that puts his life in jeopardy. While Mosby's lyrical voice creates a moody, atmospheric Paris, rich with a sense of longing, at times it also veers into romance-novel language; Lavinia and Gaston's exchanges are filled with over-the-top declarations of desire. More compelling are the glimpses of war and fascism making their way into Paris, and the depiction of Lavinia as a woman struggling to establish her own identity and rejecting the labels of wife and spinster. Mosby's Paris is dark, seductive and worth visiting.

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