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Novel set in Cambridge, Paris and Dubai

15th May 2024

The Final Act of Juliette Willoughby by Ellery Lloyd, novel set in Cambridge, Paris, and Dubai.

Novel set in Cambridge, Paris and Dubai

A story as unpredictable as they come

The Final Act of Juliette Willoughby by Ellery Lloyd, the pseudonym for the husband-and-wife writing team Collette Lyons and Paul Vlitos, is set variously in Cambridge, Paris and Dubai and stretches from the Surrealism art period of the 1930s to modern-day Dubai.

The story is interwoven with multiple threads, starting with the deaths of heiress and ambitious Surrealist artist, Juliette Willoughby, and her married lover in a suspicious fire in a Parisian studio.

Fast forward to 1991 Cambridge, where two equally ambitious art history students, Caroline and Patrick, embark on their dissertations on the work of the afore-mentioned Juliette Willoughby and her painting, Self-Portrait as Sphinx. When they stumble across clues that point to something suspicious about Juliette’s death in that fire in Paris, their detective work leads them to expose some long-hidden secrets in Juliette’s family’s history.

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Novel set in Cambridge, Paris and DubaiAdded to that is the initially innocuous introduction of the retired professional photographer, Alice Long, who is tasked with helping the students with their dissertations. Three suspicious murders over the years are thrown into the mix, making for a clever, unpredictable interweaving of several threads which lead to an ultimately shocking conclusion.

Although slightly confusing at times, with so many themes running throughout and a lot of detail of art forgery, this read will appeal particularly to art lovers and historians who may follow the intricate details of the art world better than I did.

Moving from 1930s Paris to 1990s Cambridge and, finally, to money-obsessed modern-day Dubai, the characters and scenery are brought skilfully to life with twists and turns hat thrill to the end.

Val for the TripFiction Team

Catch our reviewer Val on Twitter X @valproctor 

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