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  • Paris Never Leaves You

    Paris Never Leaves You is the latest story by Ellen Feldman. Although Paris Never Leaves you is a work of fiction it reads more like a true story. Charlotte, the main character, is so "lifelike" it's difficult to believe she is a fiction of the author's mind. I want to thank Net Galley and St. Martin's Press for an early copy to review.

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  • Hitler Made Me a Jew

    This is the story of a woman living in torment of her past and past choices. When she is questioned about her past and her origins by her teenage daughter she finally must face up to the choices she made during an impossible time in history during 1940's Paris in the midst of the German Occupation. It is a story of a WWII romance but very different and moving to a new romance in 1950's New York. Charlotte is working in a bookshop in Paris in 1940 Paris. The breaking of WWII in Paris sends her husband to the front and he is killed in Battle. As she is in the hospital having their first child she hears the boots of the German army in the streets. This is the story of how she survived with her baby Vivi. The ways in which she survived and the guilt and secrets that she kept buried for years from everyone. When the War end Charlotte's and Vivi's lives are saved by pretending they are Jewish and being put in the concentration camp which is liberated four days later. The liberators think she is Jewish and they immigrate her to New York where a friend of her father's is a publisher at a publishing company . He gives her a job and rents her an apartment. She is content in her new identity and job until her daughter begins to ask questions about what it means to be a Jewish person and about her deceased father. She is slowly falling in love with the publisher who is Jewish and thinks she is as well. The past sins and secrets must come out in the open and be faced by Charlotte. The story is about her life and survival, about her relationship with herself and her daughter. It is a bit of a different story. It is a very good story. I read it all day and late into the night because I didn't want to put it down. It is exciting, romantic and tragic all at the same time. I definitely recommend this book. Thanks to Ellen Feldman, St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of the book in return for an honest review.

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  • An interesting perspective on WWII France

    I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Ellen Feldman, and St. Martin's Press - Griffin. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. This was an enjoyable, slow-paced book with a simple storyline and emotional without too much angst. There are several other books by this author, new to me, that will entice me later. I am pleased to recommend Ellen Feldman to my historical fiction loving friends and family. Charlotte is a young French widow with a baby, Vivi - Vivienne Gabrielle Foret - who is suffering greatly with the deprivations of wartime Paris. The child needs real meals and lots more vitamins than their diet can provide. Charlotte runs a book store, keeping Vivi with her. A German Medical doctor, Julian Bauer, stationed in Paris, often shops at her bookstore, and eventually begins slipping fruit and meat for the baby into his medical bad to pass off to Charlotte and Vivi. Eventually, a relationship forms between Julian and Charlotte, and it is obvious that he adores Vivi as well. But as the war begins to wind down and the German roundups increase, Charlotte is desperate to get to the United States, hopefully before it is discovered that she has been collaborating with the enemy. Julian, a Jew drafted into the German military before the war and with excellent forged Christian identification, alters Charlotte's identity papers to hide them in the mass of displaced French Jewish citizenry and drops them off at Drancy from where she and the baby were able to become refugees in New York City, but lose all contact with Julian. Horace Field, an old American friend of Charlotte's father, sponsors Charlotte and Vivi, employs her at his publishing house, and he and his wife Hannah set them up in an apartment in their upper floor, where Vivi thrives and Charlotte, her own worst enemy, keeps herself laced up in solitude as punishment for her sins of the past for the next many years. Julian eventually winds up in Bogota and Charlotte, traced through the group who helped her find refuge in the US is contacted by a Rabbi from there, wanting a character reference before he will sponsor Julian because of his military years of service to Germany. Of course, she can, and only then does she admit that she loved Julian, and that he was a good man. Is that the first step in forgiving herself? Is she going to be able to move past her Paris affair and find a happy place? And is she ever going to be able to explain to Vivi why she has refused to answer her questions about religion and any remaining family left in France?

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  • Intense and heartbreaking

    Paris Never Leaves You alternates between WWII in France and 1950s New York. I usually enjoy anything written about WWII so I was looking forward to this book. However, It didn’t really capture my interest the way the description promised it would. Charlotte and her infant daughter survived wartime France but some of her choices to do that cost her dearly. Now working in publishing in 1950s New York Charlotte seems to have survived the wartime horrors and made a good life for herself and her teenage daughter. However, things aren’t as smooth as they seem. Charlotte lives in the past a lot and she and her daughter don’t seem that close and are isolated from others. I read in the author’s notes that because we always seem to read about the extraordinary heroes her goal was to write about an ordinary woman instead, the average person just caught up in things. Unfortunately, even though Charlotte really isn’t ordinary, she’s also not very interesting or likable. She seems to have slid into her choices more than intentionally made them, doesn’t seem happy, and is often curt or sarcastic with her daughter. She is a woman shrouded in secrets but the jumping back and forth in time didn’t make me particularly sympathetic to her or want to learn what the secrets were. You never get a feel of the fear and danger and horrors of the war, or of her struggles in New York. None of the characters are very compelling. To say much more would introduce spoilers. Perhaps there are just too many WWII stories out there now or too many of them are focusing more on historical romance than historical fiction and I need to just take a break. Others may very well thoroughly enjoy this story. It just wasn’t for me. Thanks to St. Martin’s Publishing Group for providing an advance copy via NetGalley for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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  • VERT Interesting Occupied Parks WW 2

    A great way to refresh your vocabulary while learning about occupied Paris, France during WW2. Charlotte Foret and her friend Simone run a bookstore. When the German army begin banning books and enforcing their rules, Simone, a Jew, likes to defy them in small ways. Charlotte has a 4 yr old daughter to feed and protect. She does her best to tolerate the German officer who frequents their store. As the occupation deepens, then the allies advance, the French turn on each other when there are no visible Jews to sacrifice. Charlotte & Vivienne manage to survive and land in NYC under the care of an old family friend, Horace Fields and his wife Hannah. Ten years after the end of the war old exploits are in demand and Charlotte finds herself facing her past, as now teenage Vivi wants to learn about her heritage. A novel full of in-depth characters put in stressful and precarious situations. Research details at the end of the book are quite interesting. The only criticism I have is the flipping between time periods: scenes were not clearly marked and sometimes I had to go back a page or two to confirm what era I was in. I volunteered to read an ARC from St. Martin's Press through Net Galley.

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