Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Book Review: The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

Pages: 384
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: January 28, 2019
Publisher: Park Row Books
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "1946, Manhattan.  Grace Healey is rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war. One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, she 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 ring 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."

Grace lives in New York City and the year is 1946. She is starting over as her husband, a soldier, has died in an accident.  While at Grand Central Station, she encounters a peculiar suitcase and she feels compelled to investigate further. Upon searching the suitcase, she finds interesting photos of different young women.  For some reason, she takes the photos as she is really drawn to them, but leaves the suitcase.  She comes to find that the suitcase's owner, Eleanor, has recently been killed in an accident.  The story then jumps to Eleanor during the war who works with the Britain to send female agents to France to essentially help the resistance by transiting radio intelligence.  One of their most recent "finds" is Marie, who speaks fluent French, which makes her the perfect agent.  Marie leaves her daughter behind with family and attends training, which turns out to be extremely rigorous.  Upon graduation from training, she is sent to France to get started with her top secret work.  Meanwhile back in 1946, Grace discovers more about Eleanor and what exactly happened to Marie and the other women that worked as secret agents during a very dangerous time.  The Lost Girls of Paris is a compelling historical fiction highlighting the often overlooked, but nonetheless important role that many women played in the resistance.

I was immediately drawn to the character of Grace in The Lost Girls of Paris. I felt badly for her as she is now widowed and starting over after the war.  I couldn't quite understand why she felt so drawn to the suitcase and the pictures as Jenoff really doesn't flesh that part of the story out it other than blame it on Grace's sheer curiosity, but I, along with Grace, wanted some answers as well.  The more that Grace finds out about Eleanor and Marie, the more interesting it gets although I felt the different narratives to be a bit confusing at times.

Marie's chapters in The Lost Girls of Paris were probably the most compelling parts of the novel as that's where most of the action lies.  Marie is training as an agent, which is entertaining in itself and then she's dropped, quite literally, into France to work on a mission without much explanation.  How could I not be flipping the pages?

I love wartime fiction and Jenoff does a great job capturing the time period in The Lost Girls of Paris.  I loved that she highlighted females in this novel and the often overlooked roles they had in the war, especially the female operatives in the resistance.

This novel is perfect for fans of The Alice Network and The Nightingale; however, it didn't pack quite as strong as an emotional punch for me like the other novels did.  The Lost Girls of Paris  ended up being a fun adventure that I am glad I went on, but it didn't stand out to me as one of the best historical novels of the year.  Nonetheless, if you are a wartime fiction fan, check it out this winter; you will surely be entertained.


2 comments:

  1. I love WWII historical fiction, so this one is definitely on my TBR, but maybe I won't be running as quickly to get to it.

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    Replies
    1. I look forward to your thoughts on it! There are some great reviews for it, but it didn't speak to me as powerfully like the others. Thanks for visiting, Angela!

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