The Purple Shadow by Christopher Bowden

Thank you to Christopher Bowden for a copy of the book, to prepare for the blog tour organised by Rachel of Rachels’s Random Resources. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.


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.  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 thoughts:

This book had an old fashioned feel to it, despite some of the story being set in modern times. We start off in Paris, meeting Colin, an actor in between roles, who is intrigued by the purple shadow on the painting of Sylvie Charlot. The painting had been found wrapped up and hidden away in the apartment. Colin is convinced this was part of a bigger portrait but why would someone cut up a portrait and who else was in the original?

Colin visits theatres, galleries and museums in Paris and London, and finds a love story set in the 1930’s. The more he discovers, the more intrigued he becomes, the more mysterious it becomes, and he discovers that he is not the only person interested in the story behind the painting. This is a spoiler free review so I can’t divulge anymore about the story but can confirm that I enjoyed the story, which was very different to my normal genres.

Author Bio:

Christopher Bowden lives in south London. He is the author of six colour-themed novels, which have been praised variously by Andrew Marr, Julian Fellowes, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Shena Mackay.  

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By Karen K is reading

An avid reader from the age of 4. Love escaping into a good novel after a busy day working with students. Mum. Adopter of dogs.

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