The Paris Network by Siobhan Curham
Paris, 1940: He pressed the tattered book into her hands. “You must go to the café, and ask at the counter for Pierre Duras. Tell him that I sent you. Tell him you’re there to save the people of France.”
Sliding the coded message in between the crisp pages of the hardback novel, bookstore owner Laurence slips out into the cold night to meet her resistance contact, pulling her woolen beret down further over her face. The silence of the night is suddenly shattered by an Allied plane rushing overhead, its tail aflame, heading down toward the forest. Her every nerve stands on end. She must try to rescue the pilot.
But straying from her mission isn’t part of the plan, and if she is discovered, it won’t only be her life at risk….
America, years later: When Jeanne uncovers a dusty old box in her father’s garage, her world as she knows it is turned upside down. She has inherited a bookstore in a tiny French village, just outside of Paris, from a mysterious woman named Laurence.
Traveling to France to search for answers about the woman her father has kept a secret for years, Jeanne finds the store tucked away, in a corner of the cobbled main square. Boarded up, it is in complete disrepair. Inside, she finds a tiny silver pendant hidden beneath the blackened, scorched floorboards.
As Jeanne pieces together Laurence’s incredible story, she discovers a woman whose bravery knew no bounds. But will the truth about who Laurence really is shatter Jeanne’s heart or change her future?
Paris in 1939 is getting scary.
Laurence Sidot is dispensing books with appropriate passages for her customers; those in need, those looking for something positive. She inherited the book store from her parents (now deceased) and is trying to carry on amid worsening rumors of the war reaching their area. Unfortunately, it isn’t long before the Germans arrive to confirm stories and demonstrate just exactly the shocking conditions and atrocities they rain down on the people in her little village outside of Paris.
When she begins to see the people of her town either taken away, shot, or hanged, she realizes she absolutely cannot stand by and do nothing.
She learns of the French resistance and creates a book club (which were banned), and conducts meetings at their peril. She learns of a banned books list and makes sure she has those available to the participants of the book club. She feels she can exert resistance pressure by printing small but powerful anti-German sentiments and coded messages and disseminates those in the middle of the night.
In addition, she is given small but clandestine missions by the French Resistance where she meets war paraphernalia airdrops in the middle of the night. One of these results in her meeting an American airman, slightly wounded, whom she rescues and protects and mends for his return to England.
Now switch to 1993 and the reader is introduced to Jeanne, a former detective who, following the death of her mother, learns she has inherited a book store in a village outside of Paris. Her father can tell her very little of Laurence, though it’s obvious he loved her and claims that Laurence was a hero. She and her father travel to the village to claim her inheritance, discover the truth of what happened to Laurence, and determine their mutual connection.
Yes, I loved the 1939 timeline, Laurence, who loved and knew her books well and provided peace and hope to her customers. Her pride and spirit were strong, her story gripping.
Jeanne, on the other hand, was still smarting over being “retired” against her will, unhappy in her circumstances. I’m not sure why she didn’t badger her father into telling her about Laurence (or he to just admit and spill the whole story), but the truth is fed in small portions, a revelation at a time. It’s an uneven timeline, heavily on the side of Laurence (thankfully) and almost aggravating coming from Jeanne. I didn’t particularly like her character, but once she finds out her mother was not her birth mother, things begin falling into place.
Based on true events, a revelation about the determination and the many ways the women of the resistance provided support. I loved the story and it hooked and kept me listening until the final heart-rending reveal. Powerful, emotional statements of the individuals on both sides of a war and my recommendation to all who enjoy historical fiction as well as the indomitable spirit of people in horrific circumstances.
We received a complimentary review audiobook from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.
Genre: World War II Historical Fiction
Publisher: Hachette UK – Bookouture
Listening Length: 13 hrs 50 mins
Narrator: Laurence Bouvard
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Paris Network [Amazon]
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars
The Author: Thank you for visiting my Amazon author page! It still blows my mind to be able to say that I’m an award-winning, best-selling author of over 40 books for adults, young adults and children, because I’m also a former council estate kid and university drop-out who gave up on my writing dream because I didn’t think I was from the right (aka posh enough) background. So I really am proof that miracles can happen!
It’s safe to say that my books cover very wide ranging subjects, from spirituality, love and friendship to World War 2, the refugee crisis and talking animals! One theme remains constant however, my desire to leave my readers feeling uplifted and inspired.
My first historical novel, An American in Paris, was published in 2021 and became an Amazon best-seller in the US and UK, which I was over the moon about, as it turns out I have a real passion for writing historical fiction. I love unearthing the lesser known facts and details from World War 2 and presenting them to readers in stories that will resonate today. My other World War 2 novels are Beyond This Broken Sky, The Paris Network, and the yet to be titled ‘Book 4’ – which will be published by Bookouture in August 2022.
I’m also currently writing two more books for my Moonlight Dreamers series for young adults.
Because my path to writing success has been such a bumpy one, I love nothing more than helping other people achieve their writing dreams via my online community, THE WRITING ADVENTURE (you can find us on Facebook).
You can find out more about my writing and sign up to my newsletter, GRIT, GRACE & GRATITUDE, at http://www.siobhancurham.com
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Thanks so much to everyone who has read my books and taken the time to leave a review here on Amazon, it really helps so I very much appreciate it.
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