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Book summary and reviews of The Continental Affair by Christine Mangan

The Continental Affair by Christine Mangan

The Continental Affair

A Novel

by Christine Mangan

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  • Published:
  • Aug 2023
    320 pages
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About this book

Book Summary

With gorgeous prose, European glamour, and an expansive wanderlust, Christine Mangan's The Continental Affair is a daring literary caper that is quick on its feet and delightfully surprising.

Meet Henri and Louise. Two strangers, traveling alone, on the train from Belgrade to Istanbul. Except this isn't the first time they have met.

It's the 1960s and Louise is running. From her past in England, from the owners of the money she has stolen―and from Henri, the person who has been sent to collect it. Across the Continent―from Granada to Paris, from Belgrade to Istanbul―Henri follows, desperate to leave behind his own troubles. The memories of his past life as a gendarme in Algeria that keep resurfacing. His inability to reconcile the growing responsibilities of his current criminal path with this former self.

But Henri soon realizes that Louise is no ordinary mark. As the train hurtles toward its final destination, Henri and Louise must decide what the future will hold―and whether it involves one another.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Richly layered characters, opulent settings, and graceful prose elevate this captivating crime caper.... Mangan's character exposition and vivid depictions of exotic locales are sublime. This is a treat." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A thrilling chase through 1960s Europe with an emotional core and gorgeous prose...The novel is a smart riff on a familiar genre, with complex protagonists and a cliché-defying love story.... For fans of spy thrillers and literary romances alike." —Kirkus Reviews

"Christine Mangan has written a sleek, smart, stylish caper that manages to traverse both European and emotional landscapes. A theft. A chase. A love story. The Continental Affair is a deeply satisfying, immersive story that isn't to be missed." —Ariel Lawhon, New York Times bestselling author of I Was Anastasia and Code Name Helen

This information about The Continental Affair was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Susan B. (Hahira, GA)

Noir in the 60s
Christine Manganhas managed to combine the essence of 40s noir with a caper in the 60s. Atmospheric and cinematic she builds characters and situations that continue to draw you in deeper and deeper. Two characters both in search of their identities and futures while trying to lose their pasts. A great book for bookclubs.

Mary L. (Greeley, CO)

Complexities of pursuer and pursued
Author Christine Mangan takes the reader on a twisting tale of one pursued and of her pursuer through locations in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Time, also, twists leaving the reader sometimes bewildered but always intrigued at the cat and mouse journey of the two major characters. Ultimately surprises await the reader along the journey and this reader was left with hopes of self-forgiveness for each of the characters and for their futures.

Judy W. (Tucker, GA)

The Continental Affair by Christine Mangan
What a lovely, imaginative novel Christine Mangan gave to her readers! The caper that Henri and Louise experience through the well known cities of Europe is captivating, full of mystery, includes true danger and is just a delight to read. I loved this book!
Each protagonist carries a secret from their past; Louise's final reveal was quite unexpected and disconcerting; Henri's secret reveals were more expected. The author's description of Europe's large cities-Granada, Paris; Belgrade, Istanbul were vivid and exacting to this reader. Her use of language, plot, theme and character building was superb! Henri and Louise became like old friends as I delved deeper and deeper into this haunting, engaging story. The premise was unusual--Ms. Magnan evokes intrigue, cold, heat, fright, images of the cities, an "Agatha Christie-like" train ride to Istanbul and so much more through her novel. The Continental Affair is sure to become a favorite of those who read it's pages. I would highly recommend this as a choice for book clubs--the ensuing discussions would be robust!

Barbara S. (Gig Harbor, WA)

The Continental Affair
The term "affair" has various nuanced meanings in this novel which leads the reader through a journey of time as well as place. The author uses a well developed past and present timeline to allow the reader to learn the storyline through the eyes of both characters as the suspense builds to the denouement; followed by an epilogue that leaves the reader wanting just a bit more. The evolving timeline, paired with wonderful descriptive scenes of the countries included in this journey and historical literary references make for an intriguing suspenseful story. All in all, an intriguing literary suspense story.

Margot T. (Westport, CT)

A Circuitous Journey
The Continental Affair by Christine Magnan is not what I expected--a romantic European tryst with two attractive people--and not the kind of book--a mysterious, weirdly winding tale of two people trying to escape their pasts--I usually read. But this book was intriguing and hard to put down as the chaser and the chased wend their way from Spain to Paris to Belgrade to Istanbul with all sorts of side adventures along the way.

The author has an ear for dialogue and a talent for making this unbelievable and suspenseful tale seem true. She depicts her two main characters with great clarity, their fears, their backgrounds, their insecurities, and this makes for is a seamless interchange between past and present which moves this story, very scary at times, along.

I don't want to say much more and reveal the plot, but I think this is well worth a look-see for any reader who enjoys mystery and adventure.

Claire M. (Wrentham, MA)

Star-Csee rossed Lovers?
Following on her successful debut, "Tangerine", Mangan writes another mashup of brooding characters, literary references, exotic locales with sweeping vistas, and the lurking menace of evil intent.

Within the confines of prolonged overland travel, antiheroes Louise, enigmatic and cold, and Henri, emotionally adrift and wary, are suspended in a state of heightened anticipation. They eye each other like poker players hedging their bets, both with nothing to lose and going all in on a barely articulated cat and mouse chase. Mangan's slow-paced thriller toys with tropes of romantic suspense.

Agonizing mid-20th century ennui is reflected in their attempts to escape former lives. Louise discards her life as a drudge caring for her invalid WW2 veteran father in an unremarkable English village and Henri acts as courier for a criminal gang after suffering disillusionment with his role of French colonial policeman in Algiers.

Are they kindred spirits? Both seek a way out of the confinement of circumstances and expectations thrust on them by their parents and post-war society. Their desire to break the bonds of the quiet desperation they endure leads to transgressive actions in the shadows as they travel across Europe.

Moody and atmospheric, seething with repressed rage and the trauma of a "dirty" war, the novel discomfits with its notions of free will and fate between star-crossed souls.

A great choice for book groups.

...19 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Christine Mangan

Christine Mangan is the author of the national bestseller Tangerine and Palace of the Drowned. She has her Ph.D. in English from University College Dublin, with a focus on 18th-century Gothic literature, and an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Southern Maine. She lives in Detroit.

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