I have pretty much sworn off WWII novels because I read too many of them one year but something about the plot of The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff called to me. I thank TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy at no charge for my honest review.
About The Lost Girls of Paris:
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Park Row; Original edition (January 29, 2019)
From the author of the runaway bestseller The Orphan’s Tale comes a remarkable story of friendship and courage centered around three women and a ring of female secret agents during World War II.
One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.
Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.
Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.
You can read an excerpt HERE
About the Author:
Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including the international bestseller The Kommandant’s Girl, which also earned her a Quill Award nomination. Pam lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.
Connect with Pam
The Lost Paris Girls is a book that takes place in two different times; 1946 New York and during WWII in London and various locations in France. Grace works for an immigration lawyer in New York and is late for work one day due to a traffic accident. She ducks through Grand Central Station and stumble on a suitcase left under a bench. For reasons I never could fathom she decides to open it, look through it and actually take an envelope from it. Other than to set up the rest of the book I cannot imagine someone just going through another person’s belongings like that. This plot point rather bothered me and I wondered if there weren’t a better way to set things in motion – but I am not a writer, only a reader.
In the envelope are 12 photos of young ladies. The only identifier is a first name listed on the back of each. Grace did notice a name on the outside of the suitcase and soon realizes that the traffic accident that made her late for work was a pedestrian v. car and it involved the owner of the suitcase she found. In watching the news she learns that the owner has been killed!
Eleanor Trigg works for the war department in London for the division that is placing spies in France. The network is experiencing problems and she puts forth the idea to send women into the field. She is charged with developing the program and starts recruiting women to train for the dangerous work. Most of them will be radio operators. One of them – Marie – is chosen due to her fluency in French. Marie has a small daughter and sees it as an opportunity to earn more money and make the world better for her child.
The story is told in alternating chapters by these three women; Eleanor, an intelligent woman who emigrated to England with her mother to get away from Hitler. Marie, a young English woman who is looking to make a better world and Grace, looking for answers for questions she didn’t know she had.
As with any book dealing with the horrors of war it’s hard to say it’s an enjoyable read. There is a very good story here though. One does have to suspend a certain amount of reality to let the book work though because some of it just doesn’t make sense – like my opening comment about why a stranger would open a suitcase and take something out of it. At least someone who is not a thief. Then there is Grace’s drive to figure out who the girls in the photos are and what happened to them. With everything else going on in her life why? But if you just let reality drop and just go with the flow you have a sort of WWII mystery light that makes for a very diverting read.
Following Grace as she seeks answers, Marie’s exploits in France and Eleanor’s concern for her “girls” makes for good reading. The story solid and Grace is great heroine.