Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Book Review: The Paris Apartment by Kelly Bowen

Pages: 416
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 20, 2021
Publisher: Grand Central
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 
Goodreads says, "2017, London: When Aurelia Leclaire inherits an opulent Paris apartment, she is shocked to discover her grandmother’s hidden secrets—including a treasure trove of famous art and couture gowns. One obscure painting leads her to Gabriel Seymour, a highly respected art restorer with his own mysterious past. Together they attempt to uncover the truths concealed within the apartment’s walls.  Paris, 1942: The Germans may occupy the City of Lights, but glamorous Estelle Allard flourishes in a world separate from the hardships of war. Yet when the Nazis come for her friends, Estelle doesn’t hesitate to help those she holds dear, no matter the cost. As she works against the forces intent on destroying her loved ones, she can’t know that her actions will have ramifications for generations to come.  Set seventy-five years apart, against a perilous and a prosperous Paris, both Estelle and Lia must unearth hidden courage as they navigate the dangers of a changing world, altering history—and their family’s futures—forever."


The year is 2017 and Lia's grandmother, Estelle, has passed away.  Lia is surprised to find out that she has inherited a Paris apartment from her.  Once there, Lia realizes something isn't right. The apartment has been untouched since WWII. Walking into the apartment is like stepping back in time to 1942. Lia had no idea her grandmother had an apartment in Paris and the fact that it has been abandoned by her for all of these years raises some questions.  To top it off, the apartment has amazing paintings in it. Could they be valuable? Also, within the apartment, Lia finds a postcard to her grandmother from a man named Hermann Goring, who Lia thinks could be a Nazi.  Was Lia's grandmother working with the Nazis? Did she lead some secret life? In order to figure this out, Lia hires an art appraiser, Gabriel.  Slowly Lia and Gabriel uncover the truth surrounding Lia's grandmother and her role during WWII.  Meanwhile, there are flashbacks to Estelle's life in Paris during the war and readers slowly unfold the truth surrounding Estelle. Kelly Bowen's The Paris Apartment is a captivating tale inspired by real-life women whose courage and heroics during the war often are forgotten.

Right away the fact that Lia was left this beautiful apartment in Paris really intrigued me. Could you imagine? Then she discovers all these hidden gems within the apartment as well as the possibility that Estelle, her grandmother lived a life that Lia doesn't know about.  At first, Lia suspects she was a Nazi sympathizer, but there's more to Estelle's story than that.  Was Estelle just a Paris socialite or part of the resistance?  Lia finds out the secrets surrounding Estelle's role during the war and I was really invested in the tale.  

To further pique my interest, Bowen provides readers with flashbacks to Paris and Estelle's life just as Lia is trying to figure things out during 2017 in The Paris Apartment.  The dual timeline worked well for me and definitely added to the mystery surrounding Estelle.  Also, occupied Paris in and of itself is a very compelling setting and Bowen brought it to life very well.  What Estelle did during the war was inspired by the real-life events of Josephine Baker.  It should be said I am loving all of the attention women are getting in historical fiction lately and how authors are highlighting women's valiant deeds that are often overlooked. The Paris Apartment is no different.

If you love WWII stories as well as stories about strong women during extraordinary times, give The Paris Apartment a try this fall. It's one of my favorite WWII stories of the year. Let me know in the comments if you enjoy novels about WWII and if you plan to read The Paris Apartment.



  1. I'm a huge fan of WWII historical fiction, and this sounds like an excellent addition to the genre!

    1. It was definitely an enjoyable read! I think you'd like it. Thanks for visiting, Angela!

  2. A wonderful novel! Beautifully written!


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