When Paris Slept by Ruth Druart

I’m happy to be sharing my non-spoiler thoughts about this fabulous historical fiction book as part of the book tour organised by Anne of Random Things Tours. Thank you to Anne and Headline Review for a proof copy to read and review.

Synopsis:

Santa Cruz 1953. Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door.

Paris 1944. A young woman’s future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope.

On a darkened platform two destinies become entangled. Their choice will change the future in ways neither could have imagined.

Beginning on an ordinary day and ending on an extraordinary one, WHILE PARIS SLEPT is an unforgettable read.

My thoughts:

Regular readers of my blog will know that I regularly enjoy reading books set around World War 2, having studied this era at school. I have discovered some fascinating historical fiction books during our repeated lockdowns and this one is definitely added to my five star list. So what makes this book special?

In addition to the gorgeous cover design, this book is an emotional read and left me thinking about it long after I had finished reading. We start in the USA in 1953 where Jean-Luc and Charlotte are living the American dream with their son, Sam. We then head back in time to find out how Jean-Luc and Charlotte met in Paris in 1944, and what happened next.

The story looks at how the ordinary French people dealt with being under German rule, afraid to say anything out loud for fear of reprisals but with hopes that the resistance and the Allies would soon rescue them from the Nazi occupation. We also spend time with Jewish families who have lost their jobs, homes and are facing losing their lives.

In 1953, everything changes again for Jean-Luc, Charlotte and Sam, as the events of 1944 catch up with them. I have to admit that I didn’t see this part of the story coming when I first started the book. This part of the book was emotional in a different way, and as a mother I was torn about how I felt. I did enjoy reading about Paris, the different customs and food, reminding me about my first visit to France.

This is beautifully written, full of emotion and heartbreak, but also hope for the future. The final chapters found me holding my breath, eager to know what would happen next. Apologies for the vagueness of this review, but I don’t want to spoil the story for any prospective readers. I didn’t sleep whilst reading While Paris Slept, this was a book I read in a day, curled up on a sofa with our dogs (there are some benefits to lockdown). I’m happy to recommend this book as a must read in 2021.

Author Bio:

Ruth Druart grew up on the Isle of Wight, moving away at the age of eighteen to study psychology at Leicester University. She has lived in Paris since 1993, where she has followed a career in teaching. She has recently taken a sabbatical, so that she can follow her dream of writing full-time.

By Karen K is reading

An avid reader from the age of 4. Love escaping into a good novel after a busy day working with students. Mum of teenagers. Adopter of dogs.

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