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The Race for Paris: A Novel Paperback – August 16, 2016
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“Ambitious, riveting…. Deftly weaving fact and fiction, Clayton captures the texture and cadence of daily life in a world that is anything but ordinary.” (Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train)
“This marvelous novel has everything-adventure, romance, history, and most of all heart. Every reader who enters this ‘Race’ will come out a winner.” (Ann Packer, Bestselling Author of Swim Back to Me and The Children's Crusade (forthcoming))
“Clayton introduces us to a world we never knew existed and then makes it utterly compelling. I loved the story of these brave women, the risks they took, the ambitions that fed them. Moving and gripping, it is a thriller of women and war.” (Mary Morris, award-winning author of The Jazz Palace and The River Queen)
“Don’t wait to read The Race for Paris. It’s a fine book.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
“Clayton’s most ambitious undertaking to date may be fiction, but it’s impeccably researched, offering a striking glimpse into what life was like for the predecessors of some of today’s most famous female journalists. A must for World War II buffs and fans of sharp, boundary-busting female characters.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“A smart, engrossing, and ultimately heartbreaking story…Clayton gives us a story of friendship, love, and sacrifice that no one who has the pleasure of reading it will soon forget. I loved this book.” (Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants and At the Water’s Edge)
“Don’t wait to read.... It’s a fine book.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
“Thrilling…a dangerous, fast-moving adventure. Well-researched, the novel puts the women in the path of bombs, gunfire, gender bias and arcane military restrictions; Clayton models her characters on real-life pioneers—Martha Gellhorn, Lee Miller and other women who broke barriers to get the story.” (San Jose Mercury News)
“Clayton’s narrative is sophisticated and well structured…. Her description of the liberation of Paris is riveting. She skillfully reveals the inadequacies of one photo or one article to capture the full magnitude of such an event. And her prose stirs the imagination.” (San Antonio Express–News)
“Involving and thoroughly researched.... Clayton tells a story that will draw women’s-fiction readers as well as historical-fiction and WWII devotees.... Entertaining and enlightening reading.” (Booklist)
From the Back Cover
David J. Langum, Sr. Prize for American Historical Fiction, Honorary Mention for 2015
Inspired by the extraordinary female journalists who were among the first to report the Allied liberation of Paris from the Nazis in 1944, The Race for Paris follows two war correspondents on their quest to document (and make) history. Jane is a young, single reporter who meets photographer Olivia, “Liv,” on assignment at a field hospital.
Unlike their male colleagues, Liv and Jane are constantly confronted by red tape and derision. Jane is resigned to making the most of her assignment, but Liv is determined to chase a bigger story. After failing to win over her commanding officer, she goes AWOL to Paris—and Jane, seizing the chance to make a name for herself, joins her.
Reluctantly accompanied by a male British military reporter, the two women scramble through the gunfire and carnage scarring the French countryside. Their journey is further complicated by emotional bonds, romantic tensions, and one woman’s secret—a secret with the power to end her career and, perhaps, her life.
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Meg Waite Clayton's strong, vivid historical novel The Race for Paris, brings these tough questions smack up to the surface of her riveting story about women warriors of a sort who broke down barriers for everyone who has followed their dreams in the face of prejudice on the one hand and daunting challenges -- physical and moral -- on the other.
This is a war story that helps those of us now distant in time to grow in respect for World War II's freedom fighters. Related with an unflinching eye, you taste the grit, smell the burning (flesh, petrol, explosives, bartered cigarettes) and confront the hard moral choices. The two women at the center of the plot follow the mandates of unblinking journalists. Clayton's prose pops harsh flash bulbs that illuminate gruesome battle and field-hospital scenes. While immersed in such well-told, brutal moments, you feel as if you are having your hand held tightly by a good friend.
The best parts of this novel elaborate the compelling, fraught girl-buddy story at its heart. Like many an intense friendship, this one is laced with mixed feelings, competitiveness, jealously, and deep mutual respect.
It's a dense novel, but a fast read.
The story is based on real life events portrayed by fictional characters. The narrator is a journalist named Jane and the story follows her experiences with Liv, a female photographer, and a male photographer named Fletcher. The women, grown tired of all the rejection they receive to their requests to go to the front, decide to go AWOL and they meet up with Fletcher (a friend of Liv’s husband) who aids them on their quest to become the first to photograph Paris at the moment cease-fire is declared. The issue I ran into early in the book is how slow it was progressing. It bordered on slightly boring sometimes and seemed to drag on quite a bit. A lot of time was spent on the characters earlier lives, a love triangle, and jealousy that I feel could have been portrayed in a more intriguing way. Instead a lot of it fell flat. The book definitely picks up halfway through when they reach Paris and the second half of the book I found too exciting to put down. I only wish the entire book had been like that.
The main characters were interesting but not well-developed, in my opinion. It was hard to feel any emotional attachment or bond with them and I found myself caring more about the history behind the book than the main characters in it. On a positive note, I admire the amount of research that Meg Waite Clayton put into writing this book. Her portrayal of war, soldiers, and civilians was absolutely brilliant and she was able to make you feel something for what those people were going through at that time. Her account of the moment in Paris where the cease-fire was declared was so brilliant and powerful that it gave me chills. “Tears streamed down the hollow, stubbled cheeks of old men, the old and the sick brought out from hospitals to greet freedom in the streets. Young women pulled their children tightly to their sinewy legs, watching for their children’s fathers, hoping they might appear in a passing truck and wondering if they would recognize them.”
Overall I think the second half of the book made it worth struggling through the first half. I never knew of what women actually went through during World War II as war correspondents and what they had to do to be allowed the same chances as men. A male photographer or journalist would be given permission immediately to go to the front to cover the war while a female photographer or journalist (in her fitted Saks Fifth Avenue uniform that she was required to wear) needed to go AWOL to get that same opportunity. Even then there was no guarantee their work would be published, because of their AWOL status, unless they allowed a man to take credit or it was published uncredited. The history this books teaches and the glimpse it gives into war from a woman’s viewpoint is fascinating and ultimately, The Race for Paris is worth the read.
This is a story of women war reporters and gives you a Martha Gellhorn view of the war. The writer very skillfully places here two young women characters in their place and time--it has a real 1940s feel to it. The woman's perspective gives poignancy to the price paid by the young men, to the young men who never made it home again.
The plot is enigmatic and the relationships between the characters is replete with intriguing riddles. Ultimately, the novel illuminates its times and shows the physical and emotion costs paid by frontline participants in war. War leaves no one untouched is one message.
If you've been to the American military cemetery in Normandy, this novel will bring those men back alive for you.
Most recent customer reviews
Too many contrived situations; unbelievable encounters with people who helped the 2...Read more