I have read so much historical fiction that takes place during WWII and its aftermath. This makes it easy to think that I could skip reading a new book set in that time period and you may think that as well but DON’T. Paris Never Leaves You is an extraordinary novel.
From its visceral opening scene in which collaborators are shamed and attacked on a Paris street, and right on through the novel, this is an immersive, engaging and intriguing book. Within its pages readers will spend time with Charlotte and Vivi, a mother-daughter who survived the war and came to New York. The book is told in seamlessly interwoven timelines; there is one in which Charlotte works in a New York publishing house and Vivi is a fourteen year old school girl and a second that takes place during the war in Europe.
The characters in the novel are each brought to life from Horace, in a wheelchair, to Julian to so many more. The settings are also evocative. Readers will feel what it was like to scrounge for food and to reconsider moral stands in the Paris of the war. Book lovers will also enjoy the inside view of the world of publishing in the U.S. that Ms. Feldman provides.
Early in the book, Charlotte is at a makeup counter where she is told that a certain product “will erase your past.” But, of course, the past cannot be erased. Should it be? Another provocative quote is when Charlotte says that she was not Jewish until Hitler made her so. What does this mean to her? How do we form identities? These are just some of the issues to ponder.
I give this book a solid five stars and highly recommend it. Readers will be drawn in and the novel will resonate with them even after they have read the last lines.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title in exchange for an honest review.