2020 Reviews · book bingo · historical fiction · new release

#Book Bingo 2020 Round 12: ‘Set in a time of war’- Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

Book Bingo 2020 is a collaboration challenge I am completing for the third year with my favourite bloggers, Theresa Smith Writes and The Book Muse. On the second Saturday of each month, beginning on Saturday 11th January 2020, Theresa, Ashleigh and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The Book Bingo 2020 card contains a total of 12 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year, with the aim to complete the whole card by December. To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us, there is no crossover – that is planned anyway! We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post, tagging us on social media, posting in Page by Page Book Club with Theresa Smith Writes  or by visiting our blogs The Book Muse and Theresa Smith Writes.


The war is over, but the past is never past …

Paris, 1944. Charlotte Foret is working in a tiny bookstore in Nazi-occupied Paris struggling to stay alive and keep her baby Vivi safe. Every day they live through is a miracle until Vivi becomes gravely ill. In desperation, Charlotte accepts help from an unlikely saviour – and her life is changed forever.

Charlotte is no victim. She is a survivor. But the truth of what happened in Paris is something she knows she can never share with anyone, including her daughter. Can she ever really leave Paris behind, and embrace the next chapter of her life?

Seamlessly interweaving Charlotte’s past in wartime Paris and her present in the 1950s world of New York publishing, Paris Never Leaves You is a heartbreakingly moving and unforgettable story of resilience, love – and impossible choices.

Review:

Ellen Feldman’s 2020 release, Paris Never Leaves You takes the reader on a transatlantic journey from wartime France, through 1950s New York. Paris Never Leaves You is a story of love, relationships, family, difficult choices, guilt, remorse, protection and sanctity.  Ellen Feldman’s new novel successfully highlights the true cost of survival during one of our bleakest moments in world history.

In the opening of Paris Never Leaves You we are acquainted with Charlotte Foret, a woman trying to earn a living and keep her bookstore in Paris afloat in the midst of a Nazi takeover of the French capital. Not only does Charlotte need to keep herself safe, she must also protect the young life of her daughter Vivi. When Vivi becomes unwell Charlotte is faced with a tough decision and this ill-fated choice will haunt her for years to come. Charlotte is a fighter and she also resolves to keep her wartime secrets close to her chest, for fear of upsetting those closest to her.  She makes plans to flee Paris and bury the past away as she makes steps towards a brand new life. We meet Charlotte in the 1950s as she makes her mark on the New York publishing world. As Charlotte embraces her new life in New York, the pain of the past is always there. Can Charlotte forgive and forget to attain a happier sense of self in America?

Ellen Feldman is an author I have not encountered before and a quick glance over Feldman’s author bio revealed to me that this writer has a number of other historical based titles. Feldman’s latest release allows this prize winning writer to draw on her higher education in modern history and her international lecturing duties to produce a novel of historical merit. Paris Never Leaves You provides a clear sketch of life during and after World War II.

The lead of this tale across both the 1944 and 1950s based timelines is Charlotte Foret. Charlotte is the consistent voice throughout Paris Never Leaves You. A strong, brave, determined and enterprising woman of her time, Charlotte managed to rise above her difficult life during the war, which is clearly illuminated during the progression of this tale. The author does a fine job of presenting the central character of Charlotte along with the supporting cast, including her family and key figures during and after the war. My only issue with the interactions in Paris Never Leaves You were the extensive dialogue sequences, which for some reason threw me a little off kilter. I think it worked to detract from what could have been an incredibly engrossing historical narrative. I really did have to work hard to fix myself firmly to this novel, but I did find it a quick read that I managed to turn over in under a day.

Feldman is obviously familiar with the key features and way of life in wartime Paris. Feldman successfully recreates this perilous time and place. I think that this area of the novel was where Feldman really displayed her strength and purpose. The 1950s sequences in New York were carefully put together, but they were not as powerful as the World War II segments unfortunately. I did fully appreciate Feldman’s glimpse into the world of an everyday bookseller trying to makes ends meet and survive during the war. I also valued the focus on the publishing world in America during the post war years. This was a time of great change and progression, but the influence of the war definitely continued to haunt many members of society during this era.

There are some elements of romance in Paris Never Leaves You but the love story aspect didn’t completely capture me. However, the love story did serve to heighten the tension level and circumstances in the war period areas of the novel. Paris Never Leaves You is a novel of heartbreaking decisions, past hurts and impossible choices made to secure survival during the war.

With a strong heroine heading proceedings of Paris Never Leaves You, Ellen Feldman’s novel looks at the true of the war from a female perspective. Drawing in themes of love, sacrifice, secrets and the weight of the past, Paris Never Leaves You is an engaging historical fiction novel.

*** 3 stars

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman was published on 5th August 2020 by Simon & Schuster Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Paris Never Leaves You, Ellen Feldman, visit here.

2 thoughts on “#Book Bingo 2020 Round 12: ‘Set in a time of war’- Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

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