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July 22, 2023

The Paris Daughter by Kristin Harmel ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

A  gripping historical novel about two mothers who must make unthinkable choices in the face of the Nazi occupation.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of World War II historical fiction novel The Paris Daughter by Kristin Harmel
June 2023; Gallery Books; 978-1982191702
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); historical fiction

Kristin Harmel is one of my favorite authors of historical fiction novels that take place during World War II.  Her research is impeccable and her characters come alive on the pages of her books.  The characters stay in my mind long after the last page and they make me smile and make me cry.  I have enjoyed all of this author's books and The Paris Daughter can be added to her list of fantastic historical fiction.

It's 1939 in Paris and there are rumors of war. For two new friends, Elise and Juliette, their main concern is their family. Neither believes that the impending war will have drastic effects on their lives. Both women are Americans who have married Frenchmen and neither wants to return to America despite the danger. Elsie has a small child and when her husband starts getting involved with the Communist party, she knows that it may bring danger into her life. When she is told by a friend of her husband's that her husband has been arrested and that the Nazis will come to arrest her soon, she flees to her friend Juliette's bookshop. Elsie knows that it won't be safe to be on the run with a small child and her friend Juliette agrees to make the little girl part of their family and protect her from harm. After a year of hiding to save her life, the war ends and Elsie returns to Paris to claim her daughter. What she finds is a bombed-out bookstore and the news that Juliette's husband and everyone but Juliette and a little girl were killed not long after Elsie left Paris. But whose little girl? Juliette has left Paris and no one knows where she's gone. Both women end up in New York. Juliette has married a rich man and built a bookstore that is the replica of her store in Paris. Will Elsie be able to locate her friend again to find out about the last days of her daughter's life and to put closure to her pain from the war? The perfect ending to this story of friendship had me in tears.

The Paris Daughter is about the cruelties of war but more importantly, it's a book about motherhood and the difficult and often unthinkable decisions that a mother will make to protect her children and to help ensure their future.  It's a story of friendship and love, grief and despair with characters that you won't soon forget.  Be sure to read the author's notes at the end of the book where she says “I think when we know more about the past, we are better prepared to face the future, whatever comes our way…There is always light in the darkness even if that spark is sometimes hard to see.”  

Buy The Paris Daughter at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.  You can connect with her on Facebook.

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  1. Looks like another amazing book by Harmel. On hold now at the library.