Unlike Under Black Banner, which seemed like a pretty generic sequel to follow the wonderful No Boats on Bannermere, this book is a worthy companion. The story involves a little bit of everything young readers enjoy - travel, theater, romance, mystery, history, and conflict. Even more than the previous books this one is a story about relationships, with lots of inter-personal drama and dialogue, which really brings the characters to life and encourages the reader to love them. Penny is especially delightful in this story, as she shines on stage as the nurse despite her very obvious limp. The mystery is also a lot of fun to solve, as all the clues are present early on, but the characters must interpret them correctly to figure out the answer. Each time a new piece of the puzzle falls into place, there is an immense feeling of satisfaction for the reader.
This is the quintessential European travel novel. Though much of the story is heavily influenced by the events of World War II, which dates it to the early 1950s, the details of the visit to France overall are as relevant to today's kids as they would have been to their grandparents. It continues to puzzle me that these books aren't more widely available. They are certainly better than many of the other titles that survive from the 50s, including Nancy Drew. If you can find a copy of this book, snatch it up! It's one of the best.