I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls, this powerful novel of fate, resistance, and family—by the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and When We Meet Again—tells the tale of an American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in occupied Paris during the tumultuous days of World War II.
When newlywed Ruby Henderson Benoit arrives in Paris in 1939 with her French husband Marcel, she imagines strolling arm in arm along the grand boulevards, awash in the golden afternoon light. But war is looming on the horizon, and as France falls to the Nazis, her marriage begins to splinter, too.
Charlotte Dacher is eleven when the Germans roll into the French capital, their sinister swastika flags snapping in the breeze. After the Jewish restrictions take effect and Jews are ordered to wear the yellow star, Charlotte can’t imagine things getting much worse. But then the mass deportations begin, and her life is ripped forever apart.
Thomas Clarke joins the British Royal Air Force to protect his country, but when his beloved mother dies in a German bombing during the waning days of the Blitz, he wonders if he’s really making a difference. Then he finds himself in Paris, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and he discovers a new reason to keep fighting—and an unexpected road home.
When fate brings them together, Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas must summon the courage to defy the Nazis—and to open their own broken hearts—as they fight to survive. Rich with historical drama and emotional depth, this is an unforgettable story that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.
What I Thought:
Y’all know me. If it is historical fiction set in Europe, it is going to be right up my ally. I just want to start this review with one word: Wow!! This novel was absolutely phenomenal. There are a lot of WWII dramas out there, but this one was superb. It reeled me in from the very beginning, left me constantly guessing, and I was crying like a baby by the end of it.
I loved how the three main characters; Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas, really started off in the novel being fairly separate. Ruby and Charlotte were linked together pretty quickly, but Thomas wasn’t added into the equation until later in the book. I felt that this was a great way to keep the reader guessing and waiting, since you know from the synopsis that their stories will eventually intertwine.
I have never read a novel that takes on WWII from the perspective of someone who is in the Resistance line before, and I found it fascinating. Ruby was such a great character. She was certainly flawed, but heroic in a completely believable way. She was often hit with self-doubt, but it extended from a place of love and protectiveness that I found to be both endearing and real. Charlotte was precious, and I want to hold her protectively in my arms. And Thomas…might just end up being one of my new book boyfriends 😉
The world that Harmel described in these pages was beautiful, broken, and breathtaking. (Can you tell I love alliteration? haha) I loved the Paris that was painted in these pages. I really felt like I was there, and that can be hard to do with a real place. I felt what the characters were feeling. And I loved their little, fictional hearts.
I don’t want to get too into the story because I don’t want to spoil any of it for you. But trust me when I say READ THIS BOOK!! It is fantastic!!
I gave this 5 STARS!!! I would give it more if I could!! This is, by far, my favorite book of the year so far. It blew me away 🙂