It wasn’t at first sight the sort of book I would choose, but there was nothing else remotely interesting on the single shelf in the charity shop. The dust-jacket showed a number of vapidly drawn images of Parisian life in pale reds and yellows. The title, A Girl in Paris, was not encouraging. But on the back was glowing praise by Patrick Leigh Fermor for a previous work by the author, Shusha Guppy. I opened it and was hooked.