The Lost Girls of Paris

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

Jenoff’s mesmerizing newest hits my sweet spot: WWII intrigue with brave female spies part of the Resistance who never return home. A grand tale unearthing their fate, beautifully written, meticulously researched, one of my faves this year for certain! 5 of the 5 Heartiest Stars! 

Pub Date 29 Jan 2019. Available on Amazon. 

Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. 

#TheLostGirlsOfParis #NetGalley
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Amazing, really gripping historic fiction. Really loved the writing, literally couldn’t put this one down. Highly recommend.
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The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff
Park Row, 2019
Fiction/Historical; 384 pgs

Pam Jenoff has long been on my must read author list, and I was excited when offered the opportunity to read and review her latest, The Lost Girls of Paris. Women going undercover just at the beginning of World War II? I could not say no to that.

The novel is split between two time lines--that of 1946, where widowed Grace Healey is trying to re-build her life after the death of her husband during the war. On her way to work one day, an accident forces her to walk through Grand Central Terminal where she stumbles upon an abandoned suitcase. Curiosity gets the better of her, and she opens it, finding a dozen photographs of various women. Despite her better judgement, she takes the photos with her. It isn't until later she discovers the photos belonged to the now deceased Eleanor Trig, a British citizen with ties to the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The women featured in the photos are all missing, presumed dead. Grace sets out to find out the identity of the women and learn more about Eleanor. She gains help in an unexpected place, from a friend of her husband's.

Taking readers back to 1943, right before the war, Pam Jenoff introduces readers to Marie, a young mother who is recruited by Eleanor as a radio operator and special operative destined for Occupied Europe. Marie proves to be good at what she does despite both hers and Eleanor's initial reservations, but what awaits is danger and risk she never could imagine. Friendship, betrayal, and even love are the center of her story.

The Lost Girls of Paris was at times nail bitingly suspenseful and at other times heartbreaking--often both. The goal of the SOE was to sabotage the Germans in order to make it harder for them as they gained ground during the early part of World War II. It was a risk to add women to the mix, but the hope was their presence would be easier to hide than that of the British men who were already on  the ground in the occupied areas. Most of the men in authority were against the move, but desperation made it happen.

I was just as curious as Grace to find out what happened to the women. I thought it was interesting that the author chose two timelines that were so close together. It provided a nice juxtaposition between the time just before and after the war.

While many of the characters and events in Pam Jenoff's novel are pure fiction, the role women played during that time in the war was very real. For many years, women's roles have been downplayed or ignored, and I am grateful to authors like Jenoff who bring them into the limelight.

It was impossible not to get caught up in Eleanor and Marie's stories. They were both amazing women who proved that women should not be underestimated. If anything, I wish there had been more. I wanted to know more about all the characters, especially the women in the trenches, an even deeper delving into just who they were. Of course, with the way the novel played out, that might have been hard to do. The author would not want to reveal her hand to soon. Over all, I thoroughly enjoyed The Lost Girls of Paris. This was my first Pam Jenoff novel, but it will definitely not be my last. I cannot wait to read more b her.
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I am so grateful to Harlequin via Netgalley for the eARC of The Lost Girls of Paris. 
In the last several years I have really been loving the trend of books telling the lesser known stories, and The Lost Girls of Paris is no exception. 
In Grand Central Terminal, 1946, when Grace finds pictures of some women in an abandoned suitcase, she is drawn into trying to figure out what happened to those women during the war. 
Told in alternating timelines and viewpoints the reader travels from postwar New York City, to London and Paris in the lead up to D-day to see the courageous exploits of the female spies of WWII. 
I definitely recommend this for anyone who appreciates good
historical fiction.
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You will be hooked from the very beginning!!   Trying to figure out how the story comes together will keep you turning the pages. I've read a lot of historical fiction, especially WW2, and this is one of the better ones I've read.  The story of these British female secret agents (spies) in occupied France is fascinating and I highly recommend for any historical fiction lover!  I would recommend to readers who loved The Alice Network; although, I have to say that I enjoyed this one much more.

Thank you to Netgalley and Park Row Publishing for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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There are a lot of historical novels based in the WWI/WWII era, and I have fallen in love with so many of them. So, when you give me a cast of women who play a crucial part in the resistance in occupied Europe during the war, I am here for it. Unfortunately, this novel didn't stand out as being among the exceptional ones. The premise is very intriguing and it should have made for a wonderful little book, but when it came to the execution, it fell short. Some of the details of this story just didn't come together for me. The characters were all one-note and the writing wasn't my favorite. This book has received rave reviews from people who are admittedly fans of the author, so maybe I wasn't the target audience for this one. *Advance copy provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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I really liked books I've previously read by Ms. Jenoff, and I had high hopes for this one too, but unfortunately it didn't work for me.  I liked that the story was told from three different points of view, but took such issues with the suspension of disbelief that had to occur when reading the book.  One of the characters going against all of her training, advice from colleagues -- why, why, why?  And then the verbal vomit spilling of top secret missions ugh!!! 

I'll read Ms. Jenoff again, but this one was not for me.
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Very well written unknown historical tale of the role that British women played in the clandestine efforts to end World War II.
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This is just one of many stories of women how they had a impact on the senses behind the war,so many that during get credit for all their secret work they did for their country to end this war and to fight for freedom! The sacrifices this woman did,leave her child,her family and the secrets that had to be told to help not only her country but to keep her family safe! Wonderful story of these women ,the story will have you knowing who they are!!!  👵👵👵
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I loved every single page of this book! When first reading the synopsis, I knew this would be a loved book for years to come by so many.  What an incredible story of bravery, survival and courage these women had during WWII!
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Not too bad, but not the right book for me. The core of the plot was good but the execution fell flat. The whole thing felt bogged down by too much explanation and internal monologue. One of the three storylines wasn't even necessary.
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3.5 stars

This was a great historical fiction novel set between 1944-1946. Set in London, Paris, and New York with 3 different perspectives that become intertwined throughout the book. 

My favorite storyline to read was Marie's. I felt hers had the most interesting and intriguing plot that I kept wanting to come back to. Eleanor's role was important in the sense of how she pulled the story together in the end and was the one to connect the girls together throughout the book as well. I found Grace's story the least interesting. Though without her narrator type dialogue of the Girls there would be no story so I believe a her part was still essential to the plot. 

Overall it was a good historical fiction novel and was a quick enjoyable read.
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I was excited to receive this advance reader copy from NetGalley, particularly due to the amount of positive buzz this book has already generated. World War ll historical fiction is extremely popular right now, and female protagonists seem to be leading the way.

The Lost Girls of Paris, features three female leads with ties to the war. The story begins with Grace Healey discovering a valise abandoned in Grand Central Station. Her actions are questionable and odd. She opens the case, rifles through the contents, and removes an envelope containing photographs. These photographs lead to the  core of the story, identifying the girls pictured and solving the mystery of their circumstances. Grace,  a war widow, finds herself working with her deceased husband's college friend to track down information on a secret British  SOE training program.

Eleanor Trigg led the program, after being chosen by her boss to coordinate recruiting young women to train as spies toward the end of the war. These operatives will be used in France to counter the German occupation. We come to know these girls during their training and subsequent deployment. Featured is Marie, who was recruited mainly for her fluency in French. She is mother to a small daughter, with whom she can be reunited at the end of the war, providing her motivation to serve in this capacity.

The story moves along quickly, bouncing between Grace and her investigation and the training and intrigue the girls in the photographs experience. In the field, Marie meets a fellow operative and falls in love, while in the current time frame Grace is exploring a relationship with her new beau., while uncovering the stories of the "lost" girls of Paris. 

Overall there were several coincidences that were a stretch to believe, as well as the unnecessary introduction of love interests. The story told by Pam Jenoff is entertaining and does serve to introduce a group of WWII heroes that might not have otherwise received widespread recognition. A narrative nonfiction telling of the daring efforts of these young women would have served them all so well. 

I think NetGalley for the advance reader copy, and share my unbiased review in return.
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Based on real people, The Lost Girls of Paris details the lives of three women between 1943 and 1946.  Historical fiction, mystery, and light romance - I was intrigued from the start and read the fast paced book quickly.  

Eleanor is a smart, feisty British woman with a can-do attitude. She cares for the women she trains, but is not the type to show feelings. Marie is recruited as a secret agent because of her French language skills. Initially ill-suited to war duties, she grows in both skills and courage.  Grace’s story is not quite as compelling as the others. A war widow, now living in New York City, Grace stumbles into both mystery and romance. Too many circumstances line up to help her learn the mystery of the Lost Girls of Paris.

Currently WWII historical novels are being published by the tankful. Jenoff does an excellent job of including enough details to express horror at Nazi atrocities, but never becomes overly graphic. The story covers an area I hadn’t heard of before, Britain’s SOE Special Operations Executive. The book brings up a moral dilemma about sacrificing a few to save the many. Discussion questions for book groups are also included. 

I’m grateful to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ARC of this book for an honest review.
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The Lost Girls of Paris opens in 1946 as Grace Healy is trying to force some sort of semblance in her life after losing her husband during the war. While passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work she passes an abandoned suitcase and is unable to resist her curiosity. Her interest is immediately piqued when she discovers the photos of 12 girls. She does some digging and learns the photographers belong to Eleanor Trig, former leader of women agents who were part of the Secret Operations Unit (SOE). As she sets off on a journey to learn more about these women, she learns the truth about Eleanor, who helped train and protect the agents. She also discovers more about the war and the role the girls played in it, while feeling a fondness to Marie, an agent in the It's no secret that I am a sucker for historical fiction, especially if it revolves around WWII. This book was captivating from the very beginning. Told in dual timelines with three alternating perspectives, the story moves seamlessly and if you're like me, you'll find yourself rooting for each character! The writing by the author is incredible, the characters were well developed, and I really enjoyed the dual timelines to help the story unfold. I even found myself doing some googling on the 12 girls from SOE after I finished the book. Truly fascinating! If you liked The Alice Network, be sure to pick this one up!
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Very well written book. All the characters connecting over different times was well done. I really liked learning more about women spies during WW2. I wish there was more time for Marie and Julian though as they were my favorite part of the story. I loved reading a story with strong female leads.
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I really liked the historical part of the book. I didn't realize that there were female radio operators sent into France as spies. The book is written about three different women, Grace who finds the pictures of the "lost girls" after the war and starts investigating who they were and what happened to them. Eleanor was the recruiter of the girls and tried to find out who betrayed them during the war and Marie was one of the girls who survived. Very remarkable story and well written.
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The Lost Girls of Paris is yet another example of why I get so frustrated with WWII Fiction. Not only are a disproportionate percentage of Historical Fiction novels focused on WWII, they also tend to flounder along the same generic plots and shoddy research. Yet people weep and laud over them because they confuse the tragedy of real life events with the cheap specters that so many of these fictional stories create. Just because something is based on real-life tragedy does not make up for shoddy writing!!!

The best thing I can say about The Lost Girls of Paris is that it wasn’t nearly as ATROCIOUS as the Nightingale. I know most people thought that book was some special, poignant deity, but it was sloppily written, clichéd, and offensive to the real people who lived through those events. But I’m not here to review that travesty. I mention it, because I truly thought that The Lost Girls of Paris would have some redeeming factors to rinse away the bad taste. I haven’t read any of Jenoff’s other works, but she has good reviews. And I thought that her education in History would herald a well-researched and immersive story.

Sadly, it did not.

The Lost Girls of Paris follows the POV of three different women. Two at the end of World War II and the other in 1946. Eleanor Trigg is the leader of a ring of female operators working as radio opperators in occupied France. Marie is one of Eleanor’s recruits. Grace is a random civilian in 1946 who comes across some photos of the operatives and decides to figure out who they are. 

Grace’s storyline was by far the weakest part of this book. First of all, her involvement in the plot was farfetched and almost nonsensical. Secondly, Grace’s character was bland and boring. I probably sighed every time I turned a page and discovered that the next chapter was about her. Third, her story features a ridiculous amount of coincidences. Forth, her storyline spoils events for the other two POV. The overall story would have been more compelling and suspenseful if Grace had not existed at all.

The story is based on real events. Eleanor Trigg is clearly Vera Atkins. Marie doesn’t seem to be based entirely on one person, but the events of the WWII are grounded in fact. If you are familiar with the fate of F Section, then this story won’t be much of a surprise to you. Without going into spoilers, I know there are different theories about what happened, but based on the nonfiction I’ve read, I disagree with Jenoff’s interpretation of events.

I’ve already mentioned that Grace a boring and tedious character. But none of the other characters were particularly compelling. Eleanor was stiff. Marie was foolish and inept. She seems even more incompetent compared to real life heroes such as Noor Inayat Khan. 

Despite all of that, at first I thought I might be able to give this book three stars. Then I got to the last quarter of the book. Although the earlier parts of the book had their share of obnoxiously convenient coincidences, in the last part of the story, the deus ex machina ramped up to positively absurd levels until it was hitting you almost non-stop. Actually, I’m not sure deus ex machina is an accurate label since that is traditionally one big event that conveniently ties everything up. Whereas the entire plot of The Lost Girls of Paris is utterly dependent upon a countless series of unbelievable coincidences. A few might be forgiven. But this story had almost farcical levels of cop-outs. Without getting into specific spoilers, there are THREE different instances of various prisoners hiding objects on or in their persons despite held captive for extended time periods and being tortured. Even more frustrating is the way people blurt out information. Whether it’s extremely personal information or top secret government data, there is no way that everyone these women talked would feel so compelled to share that much information. A lot of this information was classified for decades after the war. They sure as hell weren’t passing it out to random civilians who wandered in off the street! That is the exact opposite of the mentality spanning WWII and the Cold War.

Also, the romances in this book were soooo corny and predictable.

And if you’re looking for some female empowerment, this definitely isn’t the right book for that! Grace and Marie were both idiots. This isn’t a story that does justice to the real life tragedies. 

Overall, the story felt rushed and sloppy. I never would have guessed that this was written by someone with the author’s credentials and experience. The characters were bland and annoying. The writing used too many cheap tricks and was anachronistic. And it definitely did no justice to the real-life story and people that it borrowed from. This was extremely disappointing.
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It’s 1946 and Grace is walking through Grand Central Station in New York City when she comes across an abandoned suitcase filled with a seemingly random assortment of items, including a stack of photographs – each of a different woman. She soon discovers that the suitcase belonged to Eleanor Trigg, the leader of a group of women who were deployed to Paris during WWII as secret agents. The women in the photographs had never returned home, and Grace is determined to find out what happened to them.

What an absolutely striking cover! The Lost Girls of Paris is told in three alternating viewpoints, following Grace, Eleanor and Marie – one of the secret agents. The narrative between Eleanor and Marie unfolds closer to each other, and it was interesting to read from both women’s vantage points on what they were experiencing during the war while Grace’s narrative plays out as through the eyes of the reader. It’s through this, Grace’s curiosity and persistence to solve the mystery about Eleanor and the photographs, that we follow along this journey to find out the true story and ultimate fate of the women. While the timelines of each of the POVs are not too far apart from each other, it’s incredible to see just how different the state of the world was within a matter of years during World War II.

The women in this novel, including the women outside of the three narrators, are individually so strong-willed. When each are confronted with different challenges, in some cases life-threatening, they face it head-on with determination and persistence, despite their fears. I loved the conviction they had, regardless if it was looking for answers, fighting for her cause or even putting their life on the line within enemy lines.

For the most part, the story moved along quite nicely, however I felt the romantic interactions with the men in the book seemed abrupt and rushed. For me, especially with one of the couples in particular, the “feelings” seemed to come relatively out of nowhere. Sure, it added an extra layer of tension and drama but, in all honesty, I personally didn’t really see those moments as being entirely necessary.

There are numerous books that are set in 1940s Paris, but what I enjoy reading about this time period is the women’s involvement during the war. Another recent book that comes to mind that I really liked was The Room on Rue Amélie by Kristin Harmel. Among many others, where both these specific stories may be fictional, there’s a basis of truth to the war efforts of women, looking to do their part in those tumultuous times.

★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5 /5 stars)
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I love good historical fiction and I love strong women leads.  So I started this book looking for stories, long ignored, of women who made a difference during the war.  Like all good historical fiction, this one made me stop reading occasionally to research on my own.  Unlike great historical fiction, this book was lacking in the real impact made by these women.  As an emotional look at the lives of these women, it succeeded.  As a story that revealed the true importance and intricacy of the hard work these women did, it was less successful.  Something in the balance was a little off for me.  It was a good book.  It could have been great.
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