Paperback (2020). 435 pp. ISBN 13: 979-8667134046
Kindle (2020). 445 pp. ASIN: B08D72G9C7. Text to Speech Enabled.
Welcome to the dark side of the human psyche — narcissism, psychopathy, antisemitism — as embodied in a beautiful young woman. Twenty-year-old Ragnhild McFlaherty (she killed a playmate at age ten) vanishes from Montréal in 1920, resurfaces in Paris calling herself Sandrine, determined to fulfill her naïve ambition to become a celebrated beauty. Needing financial aid, she hunts for a rich husband. She finds Sebastien de Louric, an art dealer who pretends to be rich. The marriage is a disaster. Her ambition is thwarted. Cocteau insults her, the Paris beau monde is indifferent to her. She spends her days sitting alone in various cafés pretending to be a work of art, so cold nobody dares approach her.
When she meets a rich German Adonis (and pseudo-masochist), Baron Friedrich von Gausenhoffer in 1928, she knows she has found her man, never mind that she already has a husband. Husbands can be gotten rid of. She introduces herself as Inga Bagge and starts to plan her new life.
Two years later she arrives in a foggy, dreary Berlin. The Weimar Republic is dying, unemployment is rampant, people are starving, but never mind that, Inga is in heaven. Berlin is not indifferent to her. She feels she belongs, and she will do anything to make sure everybody knows it. At a party in 1933, to celebrate the New Reich Chancellor, her new friend Magda Goebbels introduces her to “our Führer.” Inga curtsies before him. She does see the lunacy in his pale eyes, does not sense the fear of the people around her; she senses only his sick, ruthless need for power. She thinks life will now be perfect.
It will not.
Then there are the letters from her mother that are never sent as there is nowhere to send them. Letters describing life at home after the disappearance of Ragnhild. Letters that “Inga Bagge” would not want to know about anyway.