Title: The Fragment
Author: Davis Bunn
Genre: Historical fiction
Number of Pages: 167
My Rating: ★★★★☆
In 1923 Muriel Ross, a young American researcher and photographer, finds herself in Paris, a city clinging to hope after the devastation of war. Muriel is employed by US Senator Tom Bryan on a mission to document and recover pieces of the True Cross.
But even though World War I is over, the world is far from peaceful as rising political tensions between the Americans and the French threaten Muriel’s and Senator Bryan’s mission and lives.
Books written by Davis Bunn always fascinate me intellectually and engage me emotionally. The Fragment is a package of intriguing story, interesting characters, and captivating history, geography, and culture.
Muriel is a diplomatic, perceptive, and scholarly character. A romantic subplot between her and a member of the French government contains some cliché elements, but its resolution caught me by surprise.
The story contains a couple of elements of juxtaposition. For one, Muriel is a woman in a man’s world. For another, The Fragment has a Catholic subject but a Protestant main character. Muriel’s exploration of relics gave me a glimpse into a world that I, as a Protestant, was not familiar with.
At 167 pages, The Fragment is a short but enjoyable read. Sometimes, the book seems a tad heavy on information, though it is interesting. I learned about such things as how relics are authenticated, France’s road to recovery from World War I, and the methods of photography and the use of cameras in the 1920s.
I recommend this to:
- Historical fiction aficionados.
- Anyone who appreciates short books.
• “All beginnings are born in chaos.”
• For all his dark intensity, Charles Foucher had a surprising smile. It stretched his faces in unaccustomed angles. Muriel had the impression he revealed the man he had once been. Back before the world went insane.
• “The French are masters at inferences. It grants them the ability to deny everything later, if it suits them.”
• Muriel had often studied in such a fashion, splitting her time between two seemingly disconnected themes. Often, she found the topics fed upon each other, such that she would be deeply involved in one and suddenly find herself struck by an idea about the other.