What She Saw by Gerard Stembridge
eBook review copy; 320 pages
What She Saw by Gerard Stembridge is a so-so novel that follows a woman through 24 hours in Paris.
Lana Gibson has decided to travel to Paris to see the Edward Hopper
retrospective. She stays at the expensive Hotel Le Chevalier located on
the Right Bank and assures her unknowing husband after-the-fact that she
will be fine and take her meds to control her manic phases. She does
see the Hopper exhibition, but she also becomes increasingly obsessed
with seeing who is using the private elevator to the exclusive penthouse
suite on the top floor. As happenstance and curiosity collide, she
actually gets on the elevator when the door is open and is whisked to
the top floor. When the door opens she sees quickly observes that an
orgy is taking place, but she also witnesses a young woman trying to
escape from a naked older man. She quickly snaps a few pictures with her
cell phone before the elevator doors close again.
It turns out that the older man is Jean-Luc Fournier, an important
French politician. Lana is already on the radar of his security detail,
who have noticed her interest in the private elevator. Now she is on the run from the security men and needs to figure out what
exactly is going on and who she can trust before her time runs out. The
narrative follows Lana's perspective and that of a chauffeur for
Fournier, Ferdinand (Ferdie). Ferdie has his own stakes in the outcome.
I really wanted to like her simply due to her desire to travel to see
the Hopper retrospective, but Lana is a hard character to relate to or
find any empathy for. She is also not a very well-developed character.
Mainly you learn she doesn't seem to really even like her husband, she's
on meds (apparently for bipolar disorder), and she's
way-too-weirdly-curious about the penthouse elevator door. This makes it
a challenge to feel invested in what happens to her, especially when
she's repeatedly and consistently making some rather stupid actions and
The writing is good, but the 24 hour format seemed to just drag out the
action and didn't work for me. Those who love novels set in Paris and
Francophiles will likely appreciate the setting. I had a difficult time
immersing myself in this novel, probably due to my increasing annoyance
My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.