Murder/mystery tells about a Torontonian living in Paris in the 1950s as she reminisces about Toronto

The following is from the novel, “The Reluctant Virgin.”

Reluc. Virgin

Slowly, the shopping forays into the high-end shops of Paris began to lose their appeal. She realized that she could purchase on Bloor Street, west of Yonge, almost anything that was available in the chic French shops, and often at half the price. Paris had more shops with the much sought-after goods, but the stores simply repeated the merchandise of their competitors. Toronto had fewer shops, but essentially the same goods. The grand dames of Rosedale and Forest Hill could acquire the best that Paris had to offer, without leaving home.

The Champs Elysees eventually became just another broad avenue—manicured and stylish, but faceless and impersonal. Samantha wanted to walk the delightfully tacky Yonge Street to watch the flashing neon lights and the giggling patrons as they wandered from bar to bar in search of the elusively perfect partner for a one-night tryst. Toronto’s night scene possessed an innocence, not the tired old-world attitude of, been there, done that, so typical of the patrons of the clubs of Paris. Upper-class Parisians fed off their sense of self-importance, and treated the untitled and the common-man as if they were ignorant serfs. The labourers of Paris also exuded this attitude, feeling that though they were working-class, they were superior to other nationalities, simply because they were citizens of the grand republic.

Torontonians knew they were residents of Hogtown, and accepted everyone as equal celebrants of life. There was a freshness and vigour to the life of Toronto. If residents of Rosedale attempted to claim superiority, the residents of Cabbagetown would tell them to blow it out their ass. Paris preached egalitarianism, but only within one’s own social class. In Toronto, a drunk was a drunk, and his or her puke in the alley was the equal of anyone’s.

As the months passed, memories of home flooded over her. The earthy smell of a crisp September morning in the quiet tree-lined streets of Toronto, and the warm air of a smoke-scented fall afternoon, haunted her. As the city embraced winter, in the deep corners of her mind, she could hear the excited children’s voices in Riverdale and High parks, as the youngsters raced their sleds down the snowy slopes. Paris had no such pleasures.

As the days passed, nostalgia continued to envelope her. She remembered clear spring evenings, when dusk had turned to night and she had viewed the city from the cocktail lounge atop the Park Plaza Hotel. It had never failed to enchant her. Below the heights of the hotel, spread before her was an aerial view of the quiet residential neighbourhoods of the Annex and Yorkville, just a breath way from the bustling commercial traffic of Bloor Street and University Avenue. To the south was the forested majesty of Queen’s Park, the roof of the legislature poking above the swirling mass of foliage. Her longing for Toronto increased each day as the months passed.

One afternoon, while strolling down the Champs Elysees, an elderly well-heeled Parisian pinched her ass. His attitude of unabashed arrogance was the proverbial final straw. Her days of wanderlust had ended. She had had enough of the French and their assumed superiority.

The next day, she arranged for her banker to transfer her money to Toronto, to a downtown branch of the Dominion Bank. A month later, she sailed for home. She had never regretted her decision.

In the second book of the Toronto Trilogy, “The Reluctant Virgin,”a serial killer is on the loose in the laneways and ravines of the city. One of detectives assigned to the case becomes involved with Samantha, a woman who works the sex trade. At one time she lived in Paris, and the above passage explain to the reader why she returned to Toronto.

The book deals with many of the social issues of the decade, and relates the history of the period, while telling a chilling murder/mystery. The book contains many archival photographs of Toronto.

For further information on the three volumes of the Toronto trilogy:

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