ABOUT THIS BOOK: Paris, 1940. The Nazis have occupied the city¬—and the Ritz. The opulent old hotel, so loved by Parisians, is now full of swaggering officers, their minions and their mistresses.
For American Olivia Olsen, working as a chambermaid at the hotel means denying her nationality and living a lie, every day bringing the danger of discovery closer. When Hitler’s right-hand man moves in and makes her his pet, she sees an opportunity to help the Resistance—and draw closer to Jack, her contact, whose brusque instructions may be a shield for something more…
Within the hotel, famed designer Coco Chanel quickly learns that the new regime could work to her benefit, while Arletty, one of France’s best-loved actresses, shocks those around her—and herself—with a forbidden love.
But as the war reaches its terrible end, all three women learn the true price of their proximity to the enemy. For in the shadow of war, is anyone truly safe?
MY THOUGHTS: What began as a fairly average read about a young American woman in Paris to make her name as an artist, slowly morphed into a gritty novel of surviving the war, and the German occupation of Paris, by whatever means possible.
I particularly liked how the author contrasted the lives of these three women, whose lives intersect at times, to give different perspectives. I also liked how he contrasted the grim reality, the melancholy of everyday life under the occupation, with rare moments of unadulterated joy, the spark that lit the desire to survive, no matter what.
The book is peppered with real people. I learned a lot about Coco Chanel. I had never known her background, nor that she was a Nazi sympathizer. I had, in the past, simply admired her style. And I had never heard of Arletty, the French film star.
At the end of the book, the Author’s Note provides a lot of information about the people in the book who were real and what happened to them after the war, as well as further information about the history of the Ritz Hotel in Paris. It, like the book itself, is well worth reading.
Although one of the categories I have assigned The Parisians is romance, don’t let that put you off. There is no schmaltzy romance, more of an awakening, and nothing that is inappropriate to the story. If anything, the love story enhances the overall realism.
This is not a book to be rushed through. It is a book to be lingered over, one that may challenge your previous perceptions about the people on both sides of the war.
I would like to read more by this author.
THE AUTHOR: Marius Gabriel is an international thriller and mystery writer.
Under the pseudonym Madeleine Ker, he wrote over 30 romance novels in the 1980s.
As Marius Gabriel he has written several mystery best-sellers, some of them historical novels.
He has three grown-up children and currently lives in Cairo and London.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Parisians by Marius Gabriel for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2619715333