I love WWII stories and I love Pam Jenoff's writing (her novel, The Orphan's Tale received a 5 star-Top Dish review from me). Can't wait to read this one!
The Lost Girls of Paris
by Pam Jenoff
Publisher: Park Row
Release Date: January 29, 2019
One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey 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 network 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.
The Lost Girls of Paris
“Women? I don’t
The idea had come to her
weeks earlier as she watched one of the girls in the radio room decode a
message that had come through from a field agent in France with a swift and
sure hand. Her talents were wasted, Eleanor thought. The girl should be
transmitting from the field. The idea had been so foreign that it had taken
time to crystalize in Eleanor’s own mind. She had not meant to bring it up now,
or maybe ever, but it had come out nonetheless, a half-formed thing.
“Yes.” Eleanor had heard
stories of women agents, rogue operatives working on their own in the east,
carrying messages and helping POWs to escape. Such things had happened in the
First World War as well, probably to a greater extent than most people imagined.
But to create a formal program to actually train and deploy women was something
“But what would they do?”
the Director asked.
“The same work as the
men,” Eleanor replied, suddenly annoyed at having to explain what should have
been obvious. “Courier messages. Transmit by radio. Arm the partisans, blow up
bridges.” Women had risen up to take on all sorts of roles on the home front,
not just nursing and local guard. They manned anti-aircraft guns and flew
planes. Why was the notion that they could do this too so hard to understand?
“A women’s sector?”
Michaels interjected, barely containing his skepticism.
Ignoring him, Eleanor
turned to face the Director squarely. “Think about it, sir,” she said, gaining
steam as the idea firmed in her mind. “Young men are scarce in France, but
women are everywhere. They blend in on the street and in the shops and cafés.”
“Do you want to go?” the
Director asked. Eleanor considered the question. Yes, a part of her screamed.
To see what was going on over there. To feel the rush that came from truly
making a difference. Of course, she could not. The very nature of who she was
made it impossible to blend in.
“I’m of better use here.
As for the other women who work here already…” She hesitated, considering the
wireless radio operators who labored tirelessly for SOE. On some level they
were perfect: skilled, knowledgeable, wholly committed to the cause. But the
same assets that made them ideal also rendered them useless for the field. They
were simply too entrenched to train as operatives, and they had seen and knew
too much to be deployed. “They won’t do either. The women would need to be
“But where would we find
them?” the Director asked, seeming to warm to the idea.
“The same places we do
the men.” It was true they didn’t have the corps of officers from which to
recruit. “From the WACs or the FANYs, the universities and trade schools, or in
the factories or on the street.” There was not a single resume that made an
ideal agent, no special degree. It was more of a sense that one could do the
work. “The same types of people—smart, adaptable, proficient in French,” she
“They would have to be
trained,” Michaels pointed out, making it sound like an insurmountable
“Just like the men,”
Eleanor countered. “No one is born knowing how to do this.”
“And then?” the Director
“And then we deploy
interjected. “The Geneva Convention expressly prohibits women combatants.” The
men around the table nodded their heads, seeming to seize on the point.
prohibits a lot of things,” Eleanor shot back. She knew all of the dark corners
of SOE, the ways in which the agency and others cut corners and skirted the law
in the desperation of war. “We can make them part of the FANYs as a cover.”
“We’d be risking the
lives of wives, daughters and mothers,” Michaels pointed out.
“I don’t like it,” said
another one of the other uniformed men from the far end of the table.
Nervousness tugged at Eleanor’s stomach. The Director was not the most
strong-willed of leaders. If the others all lined up behind Michaels, he might
back away from the idea.
“Do you like losing a half-dozen
men every fortnight to the Germans?” Eleanor shot back, scarcely believing her
“We’ll try it,” the
Director said with unusual decisiveness, foreclosing any further debate. He
turned to Eleanor. “Set up an office at Norgeby House and let me know what you
“Me?” she asked,
“You thought of it,
Trigg. And you’re going to run the bloody thing.” Recalling the casualties they
had discussed just minutes earlier, Eleanor cringed at the Director’s choice of
“Sir,” Michaels interjected.
“I hardly think that Ms. Trigg is qualified. Meaning no offense,” he added,
tilting his head in her direction. The men looked at her dubiously.
“None taken.” Eleanor had
long ago hardened herself to the dismissiveness of the men around her.
Do you enjoy historical fiction from the WWII era?
Have you read any of Pam Jenoff's books yet?
Pam Jenoff was born in Maryland and raised outside Philadelphia. She attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge University in England. Upon receiving her master's in history from Cambridge, she accepted an appointment as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. The position provided a unique opportunity to witness and participate in operations at the most senior levels of government, including helping the families of the Pan Am Flight 103 victims secure their memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, observing recovery efforts at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing and attending ceremonies to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of World War II at sites such as Bastogne and Corregidor.
Following her work at the Pentagon, Pam moved to the State Department. In 1996 she was assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Krakow, Poland. It was during this period that Pam developed her expertise in Polish-Jewish relations and the Holocaust. Working on matters such as the preservation of Auschwitz and the restitution of Jewish property in Poland, Pam developed close relations with the surviving Jewish community.
Pam left the Foreign Service in 1998 to attend law school and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked for several years as a labor and employment attorney both at a firm and in-house in Philadelphia and now teaches law school at Rutgers.
Pam is the author of The Kommandant's Girl, which was an international bestseller and nominated for a Quill award, as well as The Winter Guest, The Diplomat's Wife, The Ambassador's Daughter, Almost Home, A Hidden Affair and The Things We Cherished. She also authored a short story in the anthology Grand Central: Original Postwar Stories of Love and Reunion. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children.
I haven't read any of her books but I did just check with the library. There are a few there and I will have to check them out.ReplyDelete
I love stories about WWII. It was a time of such great heroics by both men and women.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the excerpt. You do such nice things for me.
I really enjoy WWII stories, and I've put this on hold at my library.ReplyDelete
I do enjoy historical fiction from the WW2 time and have read her short story in Grand Central. I hope to read The Lost Girls of Paris soon.ReplyDelete
I haven't read Pam before but I love reading about WWII. Thanks so much for sharing this excerpt.ReplyDelete
Thank you for the excerpt and making us aware of this book. I am so pleased with the increase in books set in and around WWII. It is an era rich with possibilities for good stories. I have read a few books set in that time period and have others on my too read list, including Pam's THE THINGS WE CHERISHED and THE ORPHAN'S TALE.ReplyDelete
I've got this on my TRL. I enjoy reading books in that era I did read her story in Grand Central.Enjoyed this excerpt.ReplyDelete
Lucky4750 at aol dot com
I'm reading one now - All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This one sounds good but I've not read her before.ReplyDelete
I do enjoy reading books from the WWII era.ReplyDelete
Admittedly, I have not read much in WWII stories. However, this books sounds wonderful. This is a new to me author.ReplyDelete
Thanks for featuring this excerpt for the tour!ReplyDelete