Title: The Paris Daughter
Author: Kristin Harmel
Publication: June 6, 2023
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)
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.
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
If you’ve read reviews on our site before, you know I am a huge World War II historical fiction buff. I love all different stories that give me an idea of what people went through back then. Kristen Harmel is known for her amazing work and I knew I had to read this asap!
The story follows two women in Paris as the German’s invasion is beginning. I loved the friendship these two characters developed and how different their home lives were. I also really loved that a large part of this friendship centered around a bookshop! What a great place to make friends! Elise’s personality is so loving and watching her become this amazing mother was beautiful. Juliette is so dedicated to her family and her shop, I wished to be her friend too. And their friend Ruth was also a big part of this. I honestly thought the story was going to end up centering around Ruth because she was Jewish.
There were moments when reading where I thought maybe Harmel was dragging this story out a little too much. I wanted answers and felt I wasn’t getting them in a way that kept me wanting to read, but at the same time I was constantly finding moments in my day to read another page or two. It made me realize how realistic that wait must have been for those families trying to find answers or waiting for the other shoe to drop. While I wanted to know how the story wrapped up, I also kind of enjoyed seeing how these women coped with their loss and how different their grief journeys were. The truth to that aspect Harmel was able to pull out really touched me.
I’ve always been a fan of Kristin Harmel, not only because we share a name, but because she writes some of the best historical fiction novels that exist. If you haven’t read one of her books, you absolutely should. You should read them all, and maybe start with The Paris Daughter. This book speaks the truth of a mothers love and its strength even in the hardest of times.