A Tulane law professor and his best friend, the New Orleans newspaper editor, are accused of deception in that the subject of a Pulitzer prize-winning article—the law professor’s celebrated father and French war hero Le Frelon de France—never existed. Stunned, the son flies to France to search for the mother who’d vanished from his life thirty years ago when she’d rushed him out of France and to America on his tenth birthday.
He learns of her secret life before his birth in the cabaret world of wartime Paris as the acclaimed nightclub singer Lilli Deville, the Paris Nightingale, and comes to know of her connections to the violin master Patou LaBlanch and other habitués of Paris in the night.
The story takes the reader inside the world of Paris night life, focusing on the feelings, emotions, and actions of the characters. A noted violinist inhabits two realities—the Paris of 1980 by day, when he believes he never met Lilli Deville, and the equally real Paris of the 1940 stage where he lives nightly in a private world of himself and Lilli frozen in time, recreating performances on the Le Fleur-de-Lys stage of forty years before. Eventually the two worlds of the violinist collide, the past and present vying for dominance in a life-defining clash.
The son ultimately discovers his mother secluded in northern France and learns of a plan in motion that will reopen old wounds. He now must ask of her the unspeakable—to relive her greatest shame and expose publicly the secret she has spent her life concealing.