#BookReview WHILE PARIS SLEEPS by RUTH DRUART #WhileParisSleeps

ABOUT THE BOOK


A family’s love is tested when heroes-turned-criminals are forced to make the hardest decisions of their lives in this unforgettably moving story of love, resistance, and the lasting consequences of the Second World War.

After. Santa Cruz, California, 1953. Jean-Luc and Charlotte Beauchamps have left their war-torn memories of Paris behind to live a quiet life in America with their son, Sam. They have a house in the suburbs, they’ve learned to speak English, and they have regular get-togethers with their outgoing American neighbors. Every minute in California erases a minute of their lives before — before the Germans invaded their French homeland and incited years of violence, hunger, and fear. But their taste of the American Dream shatters when officers from the U.N. Commission on War Crimes pull-up outside their home and bring Jean-Luc in for questioning.

Before. Paris, France, 1944. Germany has occupied France for four years. Jean-Luc works at the railway station at Bobigny, where thousands of Jews travel each day to be “resettled” in Germany. But Jean-Luc and other railway employees can’t ignore the rumors or what they see on the tracks: too many people are packed into the cars, and bodies are sometimes left to be disposed of after a train departs. Jean-Luc’s unease turns into full-blown panic when a young woman with bright green eyes bursts from the train one day alongside hundreds of screaming, terrified passengers, and pushes a warm, squirming bundle into his arms.

Told from alternating perspectives, While Paris Slept reflects on the power of love, loss, and the choices a mother will make to ensure the survival of her child. At once a visceral portrait of family ties and a meditation on nurture’s influence over identity, this heartbreaking debut will irreversibly take hold of your heart. 


PUBLICATION DATE – 23RD FEBRUARY 2021

PRE-ORDER LINK

Amazon


MY REVIEW

This was a engrossing and emotional read as we follow the stories of characters caught up in the horrors of World War II – a mother desperate to save her child, and a young man wanting to escape the chilling scenes he finds himself witness to day in, day out. It is all written beautifully and considerately and you find yourself torn by the outcome years later.

The story starts in 1953 with Jean- Luc and his wife Charlotte, who are starting a new life in America, desperate to escape the past of what they were caught up in France during the Nazi occupation. He used to work on the railways so had to endure some horrific treatment and sights, so when the opportunity presented itself for him to flee and find a better life for his family he took it.

But his current life is about to be shattered as the past catches up with him and he’s questioned about his past life and the consequences are far reaching and a devastating blow to the family.

We also follow the character of Sarah in 1944, a young jewish mother who is fearful for her life and that of her son, so she makes a decision that isn’t easy to make or live with.

This is one of those stories that really connects with you as a reader as you can sympathise with both sides of the dilemma. The horrors that everyone faced back then are difficult to forget, and are never easy to escape from. It’s a real page turner as you race through each chapter desperate to see both characters find a resolution that gives them both peace. 

★★★★

#BlogTour SECRETS OF THE RAILWAY GIRLS by MAISIE THOMAS #BookReview

A huge delight to be taking in this wonderful Blog Tour today for SECRETS OF THE RAILWAY GIRLS by MAISIE THOMAS. My thanks to the author and Rachel at Arrow Publishing for letting me be part of this tour and sharing my thoughts on the latest installment from The Railway Girls!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Manchester, November 1940

As the war continues and secrets threaten the railway girls, they will discover the true meaning of friendship.

For Dot, her job on the railways is everything. Transporting parcels around the country gives her pride that she is doing her bit for the war effort, but a growing friendship causes problems when home and work collide.

Joan loves her boyfriend Bob dearly, but when tragedy strikes, her heart is torn apart and she is forced to make a decision that could hurt those she loves most.

Meanwhile Mabel has finally found a place to call home and her relationship seems to be going from strength to strength. However, the relentless bombing in the Christmas blitz is about to destroy everything she holds dear and she will need her friends’ courage and generosity now more than ever.

Brought together by their work on Manchester’s railways, the three women find that with the support and encouragement of each other, they can get through even the most challenging of times.

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maisie Thomas was born and brought up in Manchester, which provides the location for her Railway Girls novels. She loves writing stories with strong female characters, set in times when women needed determination and vision to make their mark. The Railway Girls series is inspired by her great aunt Jessie, who worked as a railway clerk during the First World War.

Maisie now lives on the beautiful North Wales coast with her railway enthusiast husband and their two rescue cats. They often enjoy holidays chugging up and down the UK’s heritage steam railways.

MY REVIEW

The girls are back and it’s so lovely to be reunited with them once more in this stunning series.  With the war ramping up around them, times are proving tougher than ever so to see these women having to face up to really serious times was just so gripping and emotional!  There may have been tears shed on my part! That’s how involved I’ve become in the lives of the railway girls!!

This book is a great look at the lives of normal people during the war – how life carries on despite the fear and danger they are all surrounded by.  The women are working harder than ever with the threat of bombing getting closer and closer.  

But real life has to continue as normal as possible, so the women are having to face  problems at home, dealing with grief and they’re still up against a few derisive attitudes from men at them working on the railways.

I found this book to be more dramatic than the last book and shows that the girls are having to grow up fast with what they’re facing and dealing with.  Really enjoyed seeing how the war was impacting on them day to day with rationing, and just how the s*** that life throws at you doesn’t let up in the midst of a war!  

Work for these girls is a distraction from the horrors and the support they receive from one another is so touching. They’ve become like family to one another and are always there when needed.

I’m hoping there’ll be more visits back to the railway girls as I just adore seeing them and how their lives continue to chop and change so dramatically, whilst counting on those around them to be supportive and show what real friendship is all about.

Loved it!!!

★★★★★

#BookReview THE PRISONER’S WIFE by MAGGIE BROOKES

ABOUT THE BOOK

Their love is a death sentence. But can it keep them alive?

Czechoslovakia, 1944. In the dead of night, a farm girl and a British soldier creep through abandoned villages. Secretly married and on the run, Bill and Izabela are searching for Izabela’s brother and father, who are fighting for the Czech resistance. They know their luck will not last.

Captured by the German army, it seems they must be separated – but they have prepared for this moment. By cutting her hair and pretending to be mute, Izabela successfully disguises herself as a British soldier. Together, they face the terrible conditions of a POW camp, reliant on the help of their fellow POWs to maintain their fragile deception.Their situation is beyond dangerous. If Izabela is discovered, she and Bill – and all the men who helped them – will face lethal consequences.

_______________________________________

A debut novel set in war-torn Czechoslovakia amid the extreme privations of a prisoner of war camp. Based on a true story, passion, heroism and a love that transcends overwhelming odds.A deeply moving and compelling readThe Prisoner’s Wife tells of an epic journey, not only across war-torn countries but deep into the heart of what it is to be human. Beautifully written … a heart-rending story beautifully told.’ JUDITH ALLNAT, author of The Poet’s Wife and The Silk Factory

PUBLISHED BY CORNERSTONE DIGITAL

PUBLICATION DATE – 16TH APRIL 2020

PRE-ORDER LINK

Amazon


MY REVIEW


This is a book based on a true story told to the author, and it really captures the extraordinary times many lived through during the Second World War and goes to show that sometimes fact can be stranger than fiction.

It centres around Izabela, a Czech girl living on a farm with her mother and younger brother, and how her world is changed when the Germans bring some prisoners of war to the farm to help with the workload. She is immediately smitten with Billy, an English POW, and their romance moves at a very fast pace and they soon find themselves married and on the run. A decision that leads them to the horrific consequence of being captured and having to spend time as prisoners of war.

Izzy is disguised as a man throughout and it was fascinating to see how she fared, how she was treated by the other prisoners, and how they all become a surrogate family to one another to get through the daily terror that they all faced. Never knowing who else to trust, how the german guards would treat them and what work they had to do. Life is extremely tough, but the kindness of others around them makes each day a little easier to face.

This book never gets too graphic which makes it much easier to read, but it still does a sterling job of conveying the conditions that they faced, and how the human spirit can cope when faced with such adversity. The devotion showed by Izzy and Bill to each other was so touching, and as the story goes on the days get darker for them with what they’re facing. And with very little knowledge of what is going on in the bigger picture of the War, they just have to keep finding it within themselves to keep going – having to deal with hunger, horrific sights they witness – a real story of triumph over adversity.

This was a story that made an afternoon fly by and was an absorbing story.


★★★

#BookReview #20booksofsummer Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

The good vibes for reading continues and I’ve now managed to read Book 4 for my #20booksofsummer challenge – and it’s another one from my actual original list! And one from the ‘large’ list too! And it wasn’t as scary or daunting as I feared it would be! I just hope they’re all going to be as good as this one!!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Those Who Are Loved is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Themis is part of a family bitterly divided by politics and, as a young woman, her fury with those who have collaborated with the Nazis, drives her to fight for the communists. She is eventually imprisoned on the notorious islands of exile, Makronisos and Trikeri, and has to make a life or death decision. She is proud of having fought, but for the rest of her life is haunted by some of her actions. Forty years after the end of the civil war, she finally achieves catharsis.

Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity of Greece’s traumatic past and weaves it into the dynamic tale of a woman who is both hero and villain, and her lifelong fight for justice.

Published by Headline Publishing Group

480 pages

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £13.58

hive.co.uk  £15.85

whsmith  £14.00

MY REVIEW

An epic historical story that had me totally captivated and in awe of the family and the stories they had to tell of their time in Greece during and after World War II. I was totally unaware of the Greek history before, during and after the war and it was a powerful way to tell the story through the eyes of a family who were living through it.

At the centre of the story is Themis who was a normal woman but lived an extraordinary life. She is looking back on her life and relaying the years that took their toll on all of them. She came from a large Greek family and circumstances meant her grandmother brought her and her siblings up and she allowed them to be their own people but that tore them apart as they all had different political views, much like the country who were torn between support for the Germans or the Allies.

Her life saw her live through the devastation when famine ravaged her homeland, and how desperate times led to desperate measures. She witnessed such devastation close to home that it inpsired her to be very proactive in trying to do whatever she could to help, even to the point of joining the communist army to fight for her people.

She witnesses and is subjected to such horrific treatment when her unit is captured that your heart just goes out to all of them women who were imprisoned, but her faith never faltered and she sets out to right wrongs when she is eventually freed as her only wish is to do the right thing.

I loved how quickly I became caught up in the lives of these people due to the wonderful way that the story is told. Despite being a large book it never felt that way when reading and there was always something going on to keep you fully engaged and often horrified by what people were having to endure. The spirit of people, especially Themis, never fails to amaze and I was in awe of her and the story she had to tell her relatives. Wonderful book!

★★★★★