The Lost Girls of Paris
by Pam Jenoff
Publisher: Park Row (Harlequin)
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
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.
I've read enough novels by Pam Jenoff to know better than to start reading one of her books in the evening. I ignored my inner monitor, did it anyway, and turned the final page at 3:30 AM. Yes, I was completely worthless the next day but it was so worth it.
Inspired by actual people and events during WWII, The Lost Girls of Paris is filled with everything I've come to enjoy in a Jenoff novel. The author's meticulous research immerses the reader in the 1940's, both during and following the war. The transitions from 1946 New York City to 1943 London to 1944 France were flawless, with spot-on pacing that held my attention from beginning to end, and vivid descriptions that took me on an incredible journey. Told primarily from the points of view of three women, this story follows ordinary women leading extraordinary, incredibly dangerous lives as secret agents during the war and the young woman who stumbles upon their story a few years later. It's filled with danger, tension, betrayal, anguish, bravery, suspense, sacrifice, and heart...and I couldn't look away.
Jenoff has a talent for creating fully-dimensional characters that pull me into their hearts and minds. I care about them. I'm invested in their lives and their happiness. I applaud their success, fear for their safety, celebrate the joy in their lives, and grieve their losses. My emotions were all over the place as I read this book because that's what a Pam Jenoff story does. It makes me feel.
Another thing Jenoff does in her books is teach, though you don't realize how much you've learned until you finish the story. While reading this book, I was fully immersed in the journey of the characters. It wasn't until the next day, when I began reflecting upon what I'd read, that I realized how much I had learned about this part of history that was made in England and France during the war. I knew nothing about this group of female secret agents who were smuggled into France to aid the resistance against the Nazis but through Jenoff's fictional characters, I feel as if I've come to know and understand at least a small part of the real women who were members of this exceptionally brave unit.
If you enjoy historical fiction, WWII fiction, women's fiction, or just an exceptionally well-written book that teaches you, touches you, and fills you with emotion, don't miss Pam Jenoff's newest novel, The Lost Girls of Paris. I highly recommend it.
Have you read any of Pam Jenoff's books?
Had you ever heard of the female secret agents of England's Special Operations Executive?
One randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on this post before 11:00 PM, 29 January 2019 will receive a paperback copy of The Lost Girls of Paris.
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.