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The Lost Girls of Paris: A Novel Hardcover – January 29, 2019
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An Amazon Book with Buzz: "Sweet Sorrow" by David Nicholls
"With fully fleshed-out characters, terrific dialogue, bountiful humor, and genuinely affecting scenes, this is really the full package of a rewarding, romantic read."—Booklist Learn more
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With that said, the novel tells the story of three different women. Grace from New York during the period after the war before the Nuremburg trials were in full swing. Grace happens upon a valise in the middle of Grand Central Station on a morning when she's hanging her head in a bit of a walk of shame. After opening the bag to find a dozen photographs of young women, her curiosity is piqued, especially after she discovers that the woman who owned the bag was killed in a hit and run accident in the street just outside the station.
The second voice is that of Eleanor, a woman working for the British SOE during the last years of the war. Her job was to train women operatives to go to France undercover in order to transmit detailed information about German troop movement and such to help speed up the D-Day invasion. Eleanor, an immigrant from Eastern Europe wants nothing more than to be a British citizen and help her country fight the Nazi oppression of Europe. Of course, her 'girls' are regarded as secondary to the men who were fighting the war on the ground and in the skies every day and Eleanor feels she must prove their worth to gain them the gravitas their bravery deserves.
The third voice is that of Marie--one of Eleanor's girls. The reader goes through recruitment, training and eventual deployment with this feisty woman who puts everything on the line for her young daughter back in London.
The story is told in an alternative chapter format where each woman is given her time in the spotlight. From Grace's perspective, the reader learns what paperwork and documents reveal and don't reveal; from Eleanor and Marie's, the story's dimension fully fleshes out to reveal the horror and disappointment of playing with danger, being caught, never finding answers and being dismissed--buried under paperwork, red tape and arson and never remembered.
Jenoff makes a point of showing how war is run by governments willing to barter with individual's lives. Two minutes after the armistice is signed, these governments must define new enemies. Ironically, the Russian allies are now Cold War Soviets and the German scientists who once produced gases to promulgate genocide are now wooed to help aid in the new scientist of the atom bomb. Sad, indeed and confusing to those who lost their family members to these changing definitions.
Two of the stories end happily, one does not. Nevertheless, all three women manage to achieve something personal beyond the mere discovery of what happened to Eleanor's girls. These revelations launch each woman into the second half of the 20th century with more nuanced insights.
Bottom line? Even though I liked the Lost Girls of Paris, I found the storyline as well as the character motivations predictable. Of course, the women are going to forge onward dauntless to threat of torture and death--what sort of Wonder Women would we be if we opted for conventional lives? There are countless women--and men--who work toward the common good without needing to be known or remembered on the front page of a newspaper or internet site. Think back to 9-11 when as we all felt that uncertainty, we naturally and instinctually banded together to mourn and work together. I only felt that spirit in this novel once--via the character Josie--a spitfire of a girl who works as part of a team without any need for self-aggrandizement. Nevertheless, I recommend the book as a page-turning read.
I have not finished the book yet. I am liking the story so far. There is one HUGE glaring historical error: Grace the American In 1946 goes into a diner and sees a news broadcast on television. Hardly anything or anyone had a TV in 1946! The first televised newscast was Jan. 12,1952!!!!
Top international reviews
Don’t waste your time or money on this, there are far better books about Vera Atkins and the female SOE agents. Changing names and accents does little to disguise that this is merely a copy of far more accurate and better written stories.
I'm sorry to say these things matter to me, and errors like this spoiled my enjoyment of what was probably a good read.
For a start we had some ludicrous plot-lines. We’re to believe that a captured member of the SOE, who was captured by the Gestapo, interrogated, imprisoned for weeks and then put on a train for a camp was still able to conceal a grenade the size of an egg! Maybe she kept it in her handbag..!! Not to mention the high ranking Nazi War Criminal who kept hold of a key to his Safety Deposit Box. I realise these were necessary to get the plot to its conclusion, but they were totally unbelievable.
Whilst I’m on the subject, the author (and her publishing team) really need to brush up in their accuracy: we had a couple - in the 1940s - discussing a trip across the Atlantic on the QEII. If the author is struggling to see what’s wrong with this I’ll make it simple .... Queen Elizabeth II didn’t come to the throne until 1952, so hard to imagine a ship named after a monarch who didn’t exist at that point (the QEII wasn’t built until the 1960s). I know Ms Jennoff is American bit that’s just sloppy writing.
The book follows three women agents from different backgrounds brought together through their enrolment in the SEO. Following training they are deployed into their special operation missions across Paris. They are to be under cover operators for London in Nazi occupied Paris. That is, until their roles are jeopardised and their lives threatened when one of their operation transmitters is intercepted by the Germans.
A most exciting story of heroism and strength.