BOOK CLUB: April in Paris 1921

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Author: Tessa Lunney
ISBN:  9781460755778
RRP: $29.99
Publication Date: 21/05/2018
Publisher: Harper Collins
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

April in Paris, 1921 is the first in a series about Kiki Button, and the first in a series is always special. If you love it you just know that there is more in store for you.


Katherine King Button served as a nurse in the Great War and after the horrors she witnessed has vowed that her days of taking orders are over. Two year back home in Australia and her parents demand she marries. She flees her parents expectations for the freedom to be herself in Paris.

Paris in 1921 is the city of  liberté, where Katherine becomes Kiki as she parties with anyone whose anyone and takes the opportunity create a new woman. She begins modelling for local artists, and while sitting for Pablo Picasso she is given the job of finding his wife’s mysteriously missing portrait.

She can’t completely escape her time in the war and is drawn back in for another mission, one that sees he whom she adores at stake.

Kiki has one week to use her knowledge of Paris to save herself and the man she adores. Lucky she has a lifestyle of whisky and parties, to go with her determination and wit. But will it be enough?

This one definitely sounds like it will be entertaining, I can’t wait to see what our readers have to say.

April in Paris, 1921 is published by Harper Collins and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harper Collins 15 of our Beauty and Lace Members are already reading April in Paris, 1921 and you can read what they thought in the comments below. Please be aware there may be spoilers.

15 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: April in Paris 1921

  1. This book is like an Agatha Christie story on steroids. There is the theft of a a Pablo Picasso painting and a rogue double agent from the war that needs to be located and dealt with. The two stories link together in an exciting detective tale.

    Katherine King Button, aka Kiki Kangaroo as she becomes known in Paris, was an Aussie nurse come spy in the Great War but on her return to Australia she can’t settle for the life her parents expect of her so she ups stumps and moves to Paris for freedom and friendships.

    Kiki is not your traditional conservative Australian girl; she likes to smoke, drink and have a really good time with whomever and wherever. There is a lot of sex, a lot of drinking and a lot of smoking but she is a good detective.

    Kiki becomes a gossip columnist for her good friend Bertie’s newspaper ‘The Star’ which is located in London. She attends all the right parties and socialises with a wide range of people in Paris in the 1920’s – artists, poets, Russian/Prussian aristocrats who were forced to flee their country and a good group of friends from her war nursing time; Harry who is like a mother and Maisie who is like a sister.

    Kiki is the perfect person to investigate the missing Picasso painting and when her old spymaster ‘Fox’ contacts her to locate a double agent she really has no choice but to follow orders yet again. She doesn’t want her long time best friend and heartthrob Tom hung as a traitor or for her to be jailed as an accomplice so she must do as Fox asks to ensure their freedom.

    I loved the descriptive passages of Paris and the people and friends Kiki meets. I did become exhausted keeping up with her whirlwind life of late night adventures and day time coffee meetings with every brand of cigarette mentioned; there is a lot of lighting of cigarettes.

    April in Paris,1921 is charming, witty, sexy, and entertaining. Kiki is a heroine that wins hearts. It is the first in a series and I will definitely be looking out for the next instalment as there are some unresolved matters that I’d love to see cleared up. 4/5

  2. The best thing about this book is beautiful 1921 Paris. What a fabulous look we get of the city post WWI, and the wonderful name dropping of society people who are The People to KNOW don’t you know. There’s also a lot of people still suffering from the war, so there’s lots of desperate gaiety, drinking, smoking and sex, to hide the war trauma, the loneliness and depression – and the memories. So this is not completely about Paris as ‘the city of dreams’ just yet…

    Kiki has escaped her Australian home and reinvented herself as a society reporter in Paris for British tabloid ‘The Star’, aided by her wonderful Brit friend Bertie, who she met when nursing in the trenches. Dear Bertie – quite an endearing character – is still a little too close to the brink, as is Kiki sometimes. They understand each other completely, and their supportive friendship is fabulous.

    Through parties and society reporting and, well, working the room, Kiki finds herself actually modelling for artist Pablo Picasso. Turns out he’s ‘lost’ a painting of his wife, and his wife wants it back, so he puts Kiki on the job to find it. At the same time she’s contacted by ‘Fox’, her WWI spymaster (yes, she was a spy as well as a nurse), and given another mission. Things are still a bit murky in Europe, as it turns out.

    The story of how these plots intertwine and resolve is great fun. Tessa Lunney’s writing is very visual and evocative of not only sounds, sights, smells and tastes of Paris (oh, the food!), but also of Kiki. She uses herself as a female spy very well – and has the truly enviable wardrobe to match. Ooh la la. Although how she remains upright through some of the drinking sessions is a mystery. Some mornings after become a bit painful – so coffee and croissants to the rescue.

    Although the painting/spy stuff is complete in this book, there is an unresolved ongoing blackmail thread – which I think may feature in further mystery books featuring Kiki. What fun.

  3. A big thank you to Beauty and Lace and the Publishers Harper Collins for supplying the book ‘April in Paris, 1921’ by Tessa Lunney.

    My overwhelming response – it’s a busy book. Busy in thoughts; busy with complicated characters, foreign names and over done descriptive explanations. I felt I was reading a book from an educated English professor who didn’t quite reach the mark on telling a gripping story or offer any real urgency to the story line.

    The story plodded, and you felt there should be more intrigue, urgency and danger in the character’s adventures. She was resuming her former spy role after all, but the character the author presented just didn’t seem highly qualified enough to exact this role effectively. The main character Katherine King Button aka ‘Kiki’ returns to Paris after the end of World War I in order to escape a claustrophobic life back in Australia, returning to the hype and excitement that only Paris can bring. We meet a lot of characters on the way, overindulging in alcohol, sex and life.

    I found it hard to believe that if Kiki was so in love with her Australian boy ‘Tom Tom’ that she would so readily jump into bed with all and sundry even the night before his due arrival to see her in Paris. I also found the cryptic poetic spy instructions hard to relate to and tended to skip over these sections.

    It was a good book but not a great book. As the front book cover advertises it as a ‘Kiki Button Mystery’ I presume there will be more books to come, but I won’t bother to read them.

  4. Well done debut novelist Tessa Lunney. You have captured Paris post WWI in such a delightful way. Amongst the sadness Paris has come to life with parties, alcohol, music, fashion and frivolities. Katherine King Button the former Sydney debutante turned nurse turned spy now living in Paris craves freedom and reinvents herself as Kiki Le Blonde Australienne, a gossip columnist extraordinaire. .

    Kiki enjoys a delightful social life and enjoys a few surprising trysts with men and women. She’s modelled for Picasso and then called upon him to find a valuable portrait of his wife, Olga, at the same time she is contacted by ‘Fox’, her WWI spymaster and given another mission to find the mole betraying Britain or face jail due to her knowledge that a childhood friend could be accused of treason for desertion

    Some parts were a bit of a struggle but it will keep you intrigued enough to finish the book to see whether Kiki accomplishes her missions. If you love feminism, fashion, free love, drunkenness, mystery, suspense, sadness, appetite for life and debauchery this is the book for you!

    I would definitely read another book in the upcoming series to see where Kiki’s adventures take her.

  5. The heroine of this novel is Katherine King Button – known as Kiki Button, she was a nurse during the First World War and went home to Australia after the war but was soon bored and returned to Europe. Kiki took on a role as a gossip columnist in Paris for a London newspaper and while she seems to love Parisian life she soon gets involved in darker matters.
    At first I really enjoyed Kiki’s story and crazy antics but to be honest I soon got a bit confused by the introduction of so many characters and the different storylines. There’s Kiki’s life as a columnist with many parties to attend, her relationship with and love for Tom, her various friends from the war, modelling for Picasso (and solving a mystery for him), her relationship with her friend and boss Bertie and her work as a spy. I found this was just too much, too busy and my interest waned.
    I felt this was a shame as the descriptions of Paris in the 20s, the fashions, the food (which seemed very important) were great but I just felt the book was trying to do too much. Kiki is often exhausted in the story and I’m not surprised! There was a lot about Kiki I liked and in a less cluttered story I might have been more invested in her and the outcome. I understand this is planned to be the first of a series, I wish Kiki well with her next adventure but I don’t think I will be following it.

  6. Who would suspect an Australian reporter to be a spy!
    Set in the roaring 20s after WW1 a fantastic detective story, a stolen Picasso and a double agent to find! Kiki Kangaroo is on the case. Ahh 1921 in Paris alcohol sex and cigarettes!
    A great fun book thanks Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins I really enjoyed being transported to the roaring 20s!!

  7. April in Paris, 1921 A Kiki Button Mystery.

    I was looking forwards to this read. A bit glamor and intrigue as Katherine an Australian fleas her parents expectations of settling down, and moves to Paris in the roaring 20’s. Katherine tries to blur out the horrid memories of War with parties, art, travel and sex! Now in Paris she goes by the name Kiki and writes for a gossip column. If this wasn’t enough Kiki finds her past creeping in and is not only asked to investigate a missing painting she is also to investigate a rouge agent.

    There was a lot going on in this story. I did find the book overly wordy and too descriptive. I had hoped that something big was about to unfold but I felt a little let down. It just wasn’t quiet what I expected, although it wasn’t a bad read I just wasn’t excited by it.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace Book Club and HarperCollinsAustralia for the reading and reviewing opportunity.

  8. Well it is an interesting book. Paris in 1921 , the people, the food, the clothes, the parties, the art, and the Spies. The writing style was not my cup of tea. But I did enjoy the history of the time. Three and half stars out of five.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace Book Club and Harper Collins Australia

  9. With such a seductive cover and the promise of a waltz into Parisian life post World War I, with a female lead that echoes the great Miss Phryne Fisher, I couldn’t wait to delve into April in Paris 1921. This is the first instalment in the brand new ‘Kiki Button’ mystery series. I loved the catchy name of the central protagonist, Katherine King Button (Kiki Kangaroo). It was also very pleasing to see an Australian woman lead the charge. What initially began as quite an exciting prospect of a potential new series to enjoy, did serve up some pleasing elements but ultimately it didn’t work for me.

    A promising start and a number of appealing aspects to this mystery come spy romp marked my response to April in Paris 1921. I really wanted to like this novel and I tried, very hard. By the end I was exhausted by my desire to want to like this novel so much. But there were some positives that I could draw from April in Paris 1921, which I will highlight for you.

    1. The setting; as a HUGE Francophile I adored being transported to my favourite city in the world. Lunney captures to sights, sounds, smells (the food sequences were divine), the fashion, music, art and rich culture that existed in the city at this point in time.
    2. The period specific atmosphere; Lunney perfectly encapsulates the mood experienced by the Parisian people and those around the world (even Australians such as Kiki). She expresses the sadness, the immense grief, dislocation, haunted memories of war and the need for those to escape this melancholy. The parties, frivolity, romps, hedonism, extreme drinking, smoking and sex is depicted well.
    3. The lead, Katherine (Kiki Kangaroo) King; Kiki is fearless, strong, charismatic and independent. She is also a fantastic fashion icon. Kiki shows us that it a small percentage of women of this era were refusing to conform to expectations of marriage and were indulging in non traditional roles, such working as spies during the war.
    4. The name dropping and art sequences. The inclusion of renowned artist Pablo Picasso was an interesting aspect and I loved the missing painting idea.

    April in Paris 1921 clearly holds possibility with an exciting, as well as interesting lead, who has an involving back story. The secondary character list was colourful, but very full, designed to keep the reader in their toes. The setting was marvellous and a real literary treat for fans of 1920’s set Paris. There were many narrative threads jam packed into this novel, which I felt wasn’t entirely executed well. I was compelled to persist and read until the end of the novel, as I was invested in the mystery side of the novel, which was mostly resolved, obviously leaving the door open for book two.

    Although April in Paris 1921 wasn’t entirely my cup of tea, you can see there were some redeeming features. I was intrigued by this series opener, but I’m not sure I enjoyed it enough to commit to further books to come. I do wish to extend my thanks to Beauty & Lace and publisher, Harper Collins Books Australia for the opportunity to review this new title.

  10. I was captivated from the very first sentence of this book. I was right there with her, my hands wrapped around the rickety old radiator for warmth. Sadly, my engagement with the writing didn’t last beyond the first few chapters.

    Kiki Button, a woman in her 20s escapes from conservative parents in Australia who just want her to settle down with a good husband. All Kiki wants is to live a little and to be her own person, especially after her experiences nursing during the war. Life was all parties and fun, and then her past catches up with her.

    I thought that I was getting a story of a wide-eyed, slightly naïve country girl, finding her way through the glamour and excitement of Paris. But Kiki is a “modern girl”, liberated and free. Unusually for me, I found myself disapproving of Kiki’s behaviour, which is odd, as I’m not particularly moralistic when it comes to my fiction. I thought about this a while, and concluded that it’s not the long line of sexual partners. It’s that the drinking and parties and intrigues and sex – they all served the same purpose. To try and erase the memories of the war, forget those that had fallen, and reclaim life. She thought she was liberated and free, but like most people around her, she just wanted to be numb the pain. Determined to be full of cheer and frivolity, when really she was terribly lonely. And the man she did love, her precious Tom Tom, kinda missed out. Which was all a bit sad really.

    But I guess that’s what the partying of the 20s was all about. And the reader is reminded that it will all happen again soon, with talk of the Brown Shirts and the emergence of fascism in Europe.

    The mystery itself is frustrating, as the reader is never really sure what it is about. Everything is in code, nothing is clear, and there is very little suspense or wondering who-done-it or who-is-it. Because, quite frankly, there’s very little reason to care. At least with a murder mystery there is a body, here it’s all lines of poetry as clues and vague hints at a traitor.

    I enjoyed the story, but I also found it hard to get through at times. It lost me with the Spy stuff and all the poetry. I would have enjoyed it more as a love story (with a missing painting) than a mystery/spy/traitor tale.

  11. April in Paris, 1921 is the first novel of Australian author Ms Tessa Lunney. The story begins with Australian Katherine King Button, the daughter of wealthy parents who is being pressured to marry, procreate and be the dutiful daughter. Katherine has served through the Great War as a nurse and vows never to take orders again. She flees Australia and her family constraints for a life of freedom and friendship in Paris. From here Katherine King Button becomes known as Kiki and enjoys a very interesting life encompassing much love, friendship, socialising and promiscuity.

    I have to hand it to Ms Lunney for the research and detail that has found its way into this book. From quoting Keats, to writing code and the detailed conversations between Fox and Vixen, Ms Lunney has a gift for keeping the reader enthralled.

    There were a few moments when I wondered how this story was all going to fit together. The first half of the book is dedicated to building the characters, of which there are quite a few, and to setting the scene. Then there we learn of two investigations running side by side, to find the rogue agent and locate a painting, and all within the space of one week. This timeline I found difficult to believe. Tom and Bertie repeatedly travelled from abroad to visit Paris; whenever Kiki needed them they could drop everything and visit, sometimes for a few days at a time. I’m not sure how all this story could happen within a week.

    The book overall was enjoyable and leads well to a series of Kiki Button Mysteries. I admire Ms Lunney for the dedication she has given to this novel and wish her every success with this series. Thank you, Beauty & Lace Book Club and Harper Collins, for the opportunity to read this intriguing novel.

  12. Kiki (aka Katherine King Button) has fled to Paris from Australia to escape her parents orders of marriage and the horrors of being a nurse during the war to forget and lose herself by becoming a gossip reporter for her friends newspaper.
    Kiki was also a spy during the war completing missions for a man named Fox but this was never described very well plus, although there were the war references throughout the book there was never much detail put into them which I thought would have helped give the book a little more depth and clarity. I got confused with the story-line of her also becoming a model for the famous Picasso who then asks her to find one of his missing paintings. This I found a bit much. My thoughts were the days didn’t seem to flow well, the characters were fun but also a little difficult to like and the clues she receives as part of becoming a spy again were so confusing I just had no idea what was going on! It annoyed me that so much seemed to be left unsaid and that everyone spoke in riddles a lot of the time. I never understood the relationship between Kiki and her ‘spymaster’ as well?
    All in all, I am glad I got to read the book as enjoy reading/trying out other genre’s that I normally wouldn’t get too but I don’t think I will be reading the next book in this series as I found I struggled too much trying to follow the story-line.
    A huge thank you as always to Beauty and Lace and to Harper Collins Publishers for the opportunity to read this book.

  13. I really expected to love this book and was left feeling a little bit flat by the end. While Kiki is a fun character, who has charm, wit and adventure at heart, the writing style was overly busy and I feel like it was competing with the main character. There are lots of overly wordy passages, which I guess show the poetic background of the author, but I found it frustrating in a novel. The way in which the setting is described is clever and transports the reader to far away places and I enjoyed the historical elements to the book. Not a bad read, I just didn’t love it like I thought I might.

    Thank you to Harper Collins Publishing and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to review.

  14. An intriguing book from the word go.
    Complex stories and characters that had me wanting to keep reading. I always enjoy a book set in Paris and this did not disappoint.
    Kiki is a fun character and I really enjoyed her development throughout the novel.
    At times I felt overwhelmed by the story, but I persisted and really was glad I did. It is definitely a book I will re-read and I feel I will most likely enjoy it more the second time round.

  15. This was a book I definitely wouldn’t have purchased, but I’m glad to have read. The cover was a bit blah and twee and I thought that it was something completely different to what was inside.

    Loved the Australian protagonist Katherine Button aka Kiki, what a great name (!) and the scenes were all deliciously laid out for consumption. She’s glamorous, she’s gorgeous and she’s on a mission to have fun! She gets involved in all kinds of mysteries and really, she’s a character you want to have to shop, chat and gossip with (as that’s really one of her main aims in life), and generally have fun with.

    The book itself held my attention and was a very easy read.

    Thank you Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to read.

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