January 22, 2013

Welcoming David Leroy, Author of The Siren of Paris

The Siren of Paris
by David Leroy

Synopsis of the Novel: Born in Paris and raised in the United States, 21-year-old Marc Tolbert enjoys the advantages of being born to a wealthy, well-connected family.. Reaching a turning point in his life, he decides to abandon his plans of going to medical school and study art in Paris. In 1939, he boards a ship and heads to France, blissfully unaware that Europe -- along with the rest of the world -- is on the brink of an especially devastating war.

When he arrives at l'École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, more ominous signs surface. There are windows covered with tape, sandbags shielding the fronts of important buildings, whispers of Parisian children leaving the city, and gas masks being distributed. Distracted by a blossoming love affair, Marc isn't too worried about his future, and he certainly doesn't expect a Nazi invasion of France.

Marc has a long journey ahead of him. He witnesses, first-hand, the fall of Paris and the departure of the French government. Employed by an ambassador, he visits heads of state, including the horribly obese gray-haired Mussolini and the charismatic Hitler. He witnesses the effects of the tightening vise of occupation, first-hand, as he tries to escape the country. He also participates in the French resistance, spends time in prison camps, and sees the liberation of the concentration camps. During his struggles, he is reunited with the woman he loves, Marie, who speaks passionately of working with the resistance. Is she working for freedom, or is she not to be trusted?

The Ghost Named Why

“Why did I have to go back?” Marc Tolbert, page 338.

Only half of the source of Marc Tolbert’s spiritual anguish is revealed in The Siren of Paris. Most readers would assume that his regret is limited to the betrayal he suffered from Marie, his fiancée. However, just as there is an entire backstory to his life, that provides his motivation to return to Paris, there is a story that follows Marc’s experiences during World War II. Since The Siren of Paris is allegorical, this story is left untold as I shift back to resolving Marc’s spiritual fate at the end of the book.

From the moment the French Resistance took form, the day approached when the fate of collaborators would be decided. During the war, estimates vary, between 9,673 to 6,675 French were executed for treason, by the resistance, for collaborating with the Nazis. It became a practice of the French resistance to hold de facto trials of those accused of collaboration. The underground papers published blacklists of traitors. Small coffins appeared, in the night, at the doors of the condemned.

After the war, the official trials began on March 15th, 1945 with Jean-Pierre Esteva, who received life imprisonment, and ended on July 1st, 1949, with the trial of Andre Parmentier, who received 5 years national degradation, later suspended. During that time, a second wave of terror raged across the 27 judicial districts of France called The Purge. Scholars are not in agreement on the number of people who were executed for treason. A low estimate is placed at 3,724 with 423 additional suspected murders motivated by war revenge. The high estimate is between 30,000 and 40,000. Men and women were caught up in the hysteria to “cleanse” the population of guilt associated with the war and the Holocaust.

My own impression, after sifting through the records, papers, and photographs, is that the number is far higher than the conservative version but not likely to be as high as 30,000. Any number is meaningless when it lacks a personal context.

Marc Tolbert chooses to remain in France to pursue his medical education after the war. As a French citizen, a survivor of the parlor torture parties at 180 Rue de la Pompe Ave and of the horrors of Buchenwald, he makes a choice that will place him in those very courtrooms. This is the second part of Marc’s shadow of regrets, which remains hidden behind his blind anguish.

This is my first novel, and I struggled emotionally with writing this story, as well as with how to bring it to life for the reader. I know that I am not prepared to attempt to bring to life the trials, lynching, and executions of thousands of traitors, many known personally to the characters appearing in the book. Perhaps with time, I will evolve into a better writer and then I will be able to reveal the second part of Marc’s story? This is a journey, which brings him to a courtroom where he will be forced by both the prosecution and the defense to testify against the woman he once loved enough to marry. Until then, the Red War of The Siren of Paris will stand alone as Marc’s emotional burden of survivor’s guilt. The Black War of The Purge that holds the second part of Marc’s anguish, full of the human rage for justice and revenge, will have to wait until I can find the ability to guide the reader through its darkness.

About the Author: A native of California, David received a BA in Philosophy and Religion at Point Loma Nazarene College in San Diego. After returning from a European arts study program, he became interested in the history behind the French Resistance during World War Two. Writing fiction has become his latest way to explore philosophical, moral and emotional issues of life. The Siren of Paris is his first novel. You can visit him at http://www.thesirenofparis.com/.

Additional Info:  You can purchase The Siren of Paris from Amazon -- http://www.amazon.com/The-Siren-Paris-David-LeRoy/dp/0983966710/ref=tmm_pap_title_0 -- for more information about this virtual book tour, please visit -- http://bookpromotionservices.com/2012/05/22/siren-of-paris-tour/

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