Review By Veronica

The Paris Daughter is another beautiful and heartbreaking masterpiece by Kristin Harmel.

Favourite Quote:

When the first bomb hit, somewhere far away, the earth trembled, and Juliette clung to the children more tightly and began to pray, begging God to spare them. In the near blackness of the basement, which rattled each time a bomb landed nearby, Juliette squeezed her eyes tightly closed and tried to understand what was happening. 

Goodreads Synopsis: 

Paris, 1939: Young mothers Elise and Juliette become fast friends the day they meet in the beautiful Bois de Boulogne. Though there is a shadow of war creeping across Europe, neither woman suspects that their lives are about to irrevocably change.

When Elise becomes a target of the German occupation, she entrusts Juliette with the most precious thing in her life—her young daughter, playmate to Juliette’s own little girl. But nowhere is safe in war, not even a quiet little bookshop like Juliette’s Librairie des Rêves, and, when a bomb falls on their neighborhood, Juliette’s world is destroyed along with it.

More than a year later, with the war finally ending, Elise returns to reunite with her daughter, only to find her friend’s bookstore reduced to rubble—and Juliette nowhere to be found. What happened to her daughter in those last, terrible moments? Juliette has seemingly vanished without a trace, taking all the answers with her. Elise’s desperate search leads her to New York—and to Juliette—one final, fateful time.

Gosh, make sure you have your tissue box when you read this book because you will need it. This book brought out all these glorious feelings, and I loved every moment of it. There is something so beautiful about Kristin’s writing, and I am always amazed at her masterful storytelling abilities. This book was so easy to get lost in, in a good way, of course. It’s one of those books that is hard to put down because you want to find out what will happen. As always, I can tell that Kristin has done her research and thoughtfully woven real historical facts with this story she created. I always love how historical writers always seem to find a new way to approach the topic of the Second World War.  

The Paris Daughter takes place during World War II and starts before the Nazis invaded France. We meet Elise and Juliette, who become friends before the war. Elise is a new mother who is in an unhappy marriage. She often struggles to connect with her husband, Olivier, who is a famous artist. Later, she resents the fact that he endangered their family when he joined the resistance movement. 

On the other hand, Juliette has several children and has this “perfect” family life. This story is told from both Elise’s and Juliette’s POVs, and I loved spending time with both women. Their characters felt so real and raw and possessed tremendous depth. We also meet Ruth, a secondary character and single mom. She is Jewish and, near the beginning of the book, is faced with this impossible choice (just like Elise’s character will be later in the book). Ruth must decide whether to send her children away to a safe place or keep them with her and hope that the horrific Nazi policies affecting Jews in Germany are not enacted in France. So many different emotions leap from the pages during these scenes. Kristin captures how difficult it would have been for these mothers to send their children away to keep them safe. I thought Kristin did an amazing job at tying in this theme of motherhood with the horrors that unfolded during the war. These three mothers have three very different experiences of the war and must make very difficult choices to ensure their children survive. And gosh, the ending of this book just stayed with me for days.

Thank you, Simon and Schuster Canada for the copy in exchange for an honest review.