Sunday, January 27, 2019

#BookReview: The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

Genre
War Era Historical

Buy Links
Amazon US
Amazon UK
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Social Media
 Official Website
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DESCRIPTION: 
From the author of the runaway bestseller The Orphan’s Tale comes a remarkable story of friendship and courage centered around three women and a ring of female spies during World War II.

1946, Manhattan

Grace Healey is rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war. One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, she finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a ring of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war, and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances...

REVIEW: 
I’m torn! I hate admitting that when reviewing an author I admire as much as Pam Jenoff, but I have genuinely mixed feelings about The Lost Girls of Paris.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I want to say that I liked this story. Jenoff is hardly the first author to tackle the courage and bravery of WWII’s female spies, but I feel the marks she hits, particularly those of operational politics, differentiate her work from the likes of Hannah’s The Nightingale, Quinn’s The Alice Network, and/or Wein’s Code Name Verity.

Jenoff has a knack for illustrating deep human emotion, and I think this story allowed her to showcase that strength in a new and refreshing way. Jenoff’s work usually incorporates a romantic element, and while The Lost Girls of Paris is no exception, the story is more heavily rooted in the bonds of female friendship than the romantic affections of starry-eyed lovers.

Having said this, I have to admit to not understanding Jenoff’s decision to use three narrators. I liked Eleanor a great deal and developed a certain appreciation for Marie, but I struggled beginning to end with Grace. This reality created an imbalance in the fabric of the narrative and often made it difficult for me to stay engaged in the plot.

My biggest issue, however, was the story’s lack of oomph. The Lost Girls of Paris is a lovely piece that touches on some very compelling subject matter, but I don’t feel the themes of the narrative landed as soundly as those of The Orphan’s Tale. I don’t want to put too fine a point on it, but Jenoff’s 2017 release delivered an emotional sucker punch that left me reeling for weeks, and I think it fair to say that my experience of that story overshadowed my reading of this one.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: January 29, 2019

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