Cover Image: The Lost Girls of Paris

The Lost Girls of Paris

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Member Reviews

I’m a sucker for a good historical fiction read, especially if it’s about WWII.  The Lost Girls of Paris did not disappoint.  The story Pam Jenoff tells is both beautiful and heartbreaking.    Each of the lead female characters is strong and resilient.   They are survivors and role models.    I very much enjoyed this book. 

Many thanks to the publisher, author and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Park Row and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of The Lost Girls of Paris.  I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

I really wanted to like The Lost Girls of Paris because its strong premise promised a novel filled with intrigue, mystery, and danger.  Unfortunately, readers are treated more to a romantic thriller than a historical fiction.  The novel is written with three female main characters and travels between their distinct timelines, piecing the truth together a little bit at a time. Grace Healey, a woman in New York City after World War II has ended, finds a suitcase with photographs inside that sends her on a journey for the truth.  The owner of the suitcase, Eleanor Trigg, was the leader of a network of female secret agents who she personally trained as radio operators and couriers.  Marie Roux was one of those agents, a woman with a young daughter who gets recruited despite her lack of experience.

At the heart of the story is the fact that the network of spies is compromised, but the author spends nearly as much time on the romantic connections that two of the characters make.  Jenoff glosses over details about the historical significance of this clandestine network and gives her characters liberties that are not based in reality.  Without spoilers, I can only say that Grace should not have been able to tease out the truth,  Eleanor is given access which would have been impossible to obtain, and Marie would have never been put in the precarious position in the first place.  Simply put, The Lost Girls of Paris does not do the courageous female members of the SOE justice.   There are many World War II historical fiction novels based in France that were more compelling, that focused more on the historical significance, and were more successful in integrating fictional characters into the real world framework.  For the reasons listed above, as well as a disappointing conclusion, I would not recommend The Lost Girls of Paris to other readers.
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If you had asked me before reading The Lost Girls of Paris if I had ever read a book by Pam Jenoff, I would have said, “Absolutely. Of course!” Apparently, I would have been wrong, but only because so many of her books are on my TBR.  I was so familiar with her titles that I assumed I had read her books.  And I was missing out.

 World War II historical fiction is one of my favorite genres to read.  Probably because my brain cannot comprehend that such a time actually existed in human history.  I keep reading more accounts and stories in disbelief, waiting for my mind to grasp and accept what it’s reading, but it never happens. 

In this book, we find some truly heroic women who sacrifice their lives to end Hitler’s terror.  The pace was absolutely perfect.  The fact that it is based on true events only enhances the terrific story telling.  The characters are very well explored, with their emotions consistently expressed for the reader.  In this way, while reading the novel, you can almost imagine what they were going through.  Since WWII seem so unimaginable to me, the availability to access the emotional toll these events took helped me become invested in a way I’m not usually able.

I did have a few problems with this story, which is the only reason I did not give it 5 stars.  Firstly, I didn’t understand Grace’s determination to figure out the story behind Eleanor’s pictures.  I can completely understand being curious about a set of photos, and maybe even wanting to look at them more closely.  But once she determined whose they were, I never connected to her need to continue looking into Eleanor.  I, especially, couldn’t understand her need being so great that she would violate protocol and actually steal government documents just to learn about a woman she had never met.  I’m glad she did, but I didn’t find it a compelling impetuous for the novel.

My only other issue is the love story.  I wanted so much more.  I appreciated that the author kept the story focused on the women and what they were doing in the war.  It would have been disingenuous to have pretended to write about these twelve resistance operatives, only to have told a love story centered around a man.  But since there was a love story, I needed that thread explored more.   I didn’t understand how these two people could have felt so deeply for each other, so quickly, and, therefore, I didn’t fully connect with the telling of their story.

Having said that, I whole-heartedly recommend reading this book, particularly if you like any of the books I listed above as being comparable.  I’m planning to make sure all of Pam Jenoff’s writings are on my TBR.

* Special thanks to Pam Jenoff, Park Row, and TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of The Lost Girls of Paris in exchange for an honest review.
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My Thoughts: The Lost Girls of Paris was told from the perspectives of three different women whose stories connected in the years during and just after WWII. It opened when Grace, a young American widow found some photos in an abandoned suitcase. She was intrigued and began a quest to find both the owner of the suitcase and the story behind the photos. Another of the women, Eleanor Trigg, worked for Britain’s SOE during the war, finding, training and placing female operatives in France. And finally, Marie, one of those operatives, who found herself in France at a critically dangerous point near the end of the war.

While I didn’t find The Lost Girls of Paris to be the most literary of historical fictions, I still liked the story very much. So many WWII books bring out aspects of that war I knew nothing about and this was no exception. British women acting as spies during the war was new to me, and that part of this book I found most compelling, most beautifully written.

“They squeezed slips of paper through the thin slit prison windows, sending them cascading to the ground like confetti. They were notes, scribbled on whatever could be found, written in charcoal or sometimes blood, asking about relatives or trying to send word. Or simply “Je suis la” (“I am here.”), followed by a name, because soon they would not be and someone needed to remember.”

I’d have liked for even more of the book to focus on Marie and the other women operatives. Weaving together multiple storylines can be challenging, often times feeling forced or overly manipulated. Pam Jenoff did a great job melding her storylines with only a few minor exceptions. Fans of lighter historical fiction will be sure to enjoy The Lost Girls of Paris.
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I could not wait to read this book and when I did, I really enjoyed it.  The story is very moving and very emotional.  The Author does a great job of bringing the characters to life.  The chapters trade off interweaving the story in such an interesting way that keeps your attention and leaves you holding your breath until the end. This story shines in terms of reflecting the strength and "backbone" that everyday women are capable of contributing to the missions and strategies of  war.
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The Lost Girls of Paris was too predictable for me. I never connected with Grace's story and her desire to find out what happened to Eleanor and "the girls" felt like Grace was created to lead into Eleanor's story, who was in turn created to flesh out Marie's story, which started off interestingly enough (I did like her recruitment) but then became more and more unbelievable as Marie (of course) kept risking her life over and over and then 
And then of course she doesn't die, not that I thought she would because The Lost Girls of Paris plays it so safe. Besides, with Marie alive, of course Grace can find her in America and "solve" the "mystery" and ta da! So neat and tidy and it just did not work for me because in a story about spies and life and death situations, you have to (or at least I have to) feel like the stakes are real. And I never worried about Marie, saw that Eleanor was going to be the pivot point to bridge Marie and Grace together, and never felt that Grace was "solving" the "mystery" for any other reason than without it, what would Grace be doing? 

I do have to acknowledge that I did like Grace telling Mark that she wasn't going to be with him at the end, but of course she backtracked in the same paragraph. The last sentence tries to pull off a "Woman off to make it on her own!" vibe but yeah, no.

The Lost Girls of Paris would be good for readers new to the glut of WW II fiction aimed at readers of popular (aka women's) fiction, but for readers who are familiar with it, there's nothing interesting here. I'd actually recommend Jenoff's first novel, The Kommandant's Girl, instead as that has the intensity (and story) that is missing from The Lost Girls of Paris.
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Favorite Quotes:

Professor Digglesby walked back into the workshop and returned with what appeared to be feces. “We plant detonators in the least likely of places,” he added. The girls squealed with disgust. “Also fake,” he muttered good-naturedly. “Holy &*#!” Josie said. 

Eleanor produced a necklace with a silver bird charm and held it out. Marie was surprised. But it was not a gift; Eleanor twisted the necklace and it unscrewed to reveal a cyanide capsule. “The final friend,” Eleanor declared. 

Grace imagined herself at seventeen— she had been concerned with coming-out parties and summers at the beach. She could not have navigated her way across Manhattan at that point. Yet these girls were on their own in France battling the Nazis. Grace was overcome with awe and inadequacy at the same time.

My Review:

This was my first experience reading the talented Pam Jenoff and I became an instant and ardent fan.  She has mad skills.  I was quickly immersed in her tale and so fully invested and simpatico with her characters that I found myself flinching when one was injured.  I seldom read historical fiction, as I don’t enjoy being reminded of the ignorant and concerted behaviors that oppressed women for centuries, although I will readily consider the genre when strong female trailblazers are featured.  I cannot resist a kick-ass heroine!  Such was the case with The Lost Girls of Paris, which featured everyday women who were recruited by for a specialized project within a little known agency of the British government during WWII, the SEO. I had never heard of this branch before but it was an actual section during Churchill.  After significant failures and heavy losses of male agents, Eleanor, the secretary to the SEO Director, convinced her boss to employ female agents instead, an idea that was not well received by the Neanderthals of the day but was put into place under Eleanor’s exacting eye.  The women weren’t spies and were resented and dismissively scoffed upon by MI6 and the British military, although once in place, the female’s contributions were soon heavily relied upon and invaluable, until through no fault of their own, something went amiss.   

The compelling and well-crafted storylines were fictional although well researched, impeccably detailed, and featured three strong and admirably tenacious women across three timelines but only one of which, Marie, had been an actual operative and Eleanor her feared and revered supervisor/mentor.  Marie’s story was the most poignant and perilous, and I often found myself taut with tension with my shoulders in my ears while I read.  Grace came into the story shortly after the war when she stumbled upon Eleanor’s abandoned suitcase in New York’s Grand Central station with no awareness of what she had found until much later. Grace seemed to have sticky fingers, as she pocketed not only a set of photos before replacing the bag where she had found it, she also pilfered something else later on in the story.  Grace had moxie and her own set of skills beyond typing.  It was Grace’s insatiable curiosity that led her to uncover the intriguing tale of Eleanor, the SEO, Marie, and the other women’s poignant tales of heroism and sacrifice, as well as the ultimate betrayal that led to their demise. But who had compromised their mission? The answer was heartbreaking, the premise was ingenious, and the writing was transcendent.
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This was a story of courageous woman, war...had it all. Well written and absorbing. This author doesn't disappoint as the story rang true.
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The Lost Girls of Paris grabbed me from the very beginning.  Grace Healey is drawn to an abandoned suitcase in Grand Central station and somewhat out of character for her, she opens the suitcase to find, among other items, 12 photographs of young women.  She takes the photos and finds herself on a quest to determine who these women are and what has become of them.  Her search leads to her discovery that the suitcase belonged to Eleanor Tripp, who was a leader of young women sent into the war as secret agents.  Grace begins following the threads of this story to weave together the full picture of the women and their fates.  

The story of Eleanor and the other young female agents is so engaging and truly had me turning pages at a quick pace.  I loved this group of strong, intelligent, courageous female characters.  The writing transports you right into the middle of Occupied Europe and the intensity of the situation.  I highly recommend this book which was a five star read for me.  I loved how Grace unraveled the story and brought it full circle.  

I received this book courtesy of Park Row though NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Eleanor Trigg ran the SOE for the British  in WWII which ran operatives to work with the resistance in France, with one special difference. Her agents were all female. Alternating between the story of one agent, Marie, and Grace who researched what happened to Eleanor's team after the war is over. Enjoyable and enlightening story.
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This is a story that captured me from the very first sentence—a story that totally drew me in as I was curious to learn more about Grace and the women in the pictures. 

Grace is obsessed with finding out what happened to the women and I loved her determination to find some answers and get to the truth. I had to keep reminding myself that this book was set in the 1940's, not in the present, when women weren't perceived to be as strong-willed as Grace was. 

Jenoff is a wonderful storyteller who can weave an interesting piece of the past into an informative and entertaining tale. I loved reading about the brave and strong women who sacrificed their lives for something they believed in.
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I cannot talk highly enough of this book! It was sad, interesting, heartbreaking, girl power, all of the emotions. I loved this so much and I will definitely be reading more Pam Jenoff. One of the best historical fictions I’ve read!
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A slow start that never really accelerates, this story was interesting enough to keep reading. A women's unit of th SOE during the war, members were sent to France to radio and sabotage the Germans through the French resistance. Years later, Grace stumbles upon the pictures of the missing infiltrators and investigates what happened. A bit of a love story within the plot. Based on a real unit of the SOE.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
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I enjoyed this book. I am interested in historical novels placed during WWII and spies in particular so this hit all the marks. I am also fan of mysteries, and liked the way the story led the reader back and forth giving only a little information at a time. I appreciated the fact that the main character (in the present) had a personal journey of her own, taking strength from the women whose lives she was learning about.
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This was an interesting look at espionage during World War 2. I loved the characters and all the intrigue. The training process was fascinating. I thought the two romances were done well, but I don't really feel the story needed them. The main character stood well on her own. I was much more interested in the story that took place during the war than the one that took place after the war, but they were both interesting enough to keep me turning the pages. I recommend this book for readers that enjoy World War 2 fiction and spy stories.

I received a copy of this book for free from Netgalley for review.
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I loved this book, I was looking forward to reading it when I first saw the description and did not disappoint.

The book opens with a woman named Grace Healey, who finds a lost suitcase in Grand Central that belongs to Eleanor Trigg.  After some investigation, she finds that Eleanor was the head of a woman's spy group out of the British SOE that sent female spies into occupied France,

The book then tells the stories of the women, which were gripping.  I couldn't put this book down once I started it.

Thanks to Harlequin/Park Row and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This is my favorite kind of novel: women in World War II, and on the ground as part of the French Resistance to boot! What's not to like? I tore through the story in two days (and would have read it faster if I hadn't had to go to work). The secretive, life-threatening, high-action world of occupied France alone is enough to set a rapid-fire pace, but the knowledge that the team has a spy in their midst makes the book both creepy and truly impossible to put down. I found the revelations at the end to be a bit of a let-down, but the suspense and pacing are still masterfully done. I also quickly came to love the brave women of the SOE, especially Marie, Josie, and Eleanor. I found all three narrators' voices believable, and while I was rooting for their characters, they all grapple with enough uncertainty and poor decisions to make them realistic, rather than too-perfect individuals. This book is on the cusp of a wave of several about the SOE and women working in occupied France, so I appreciated learning about a project that I previously knew little about.

I really wanted to give this book five stars because I enjoyed reading it so much, but there were a few detractors for me. I thought Grace's narrative added nothing to the story; I wasn't invested in her character and I thought she added an unnecessary level of "he said, she said" to get to the bottom of what happened to Eleanor and her girls. I also didn't like how the book, as well as several key turning points, are told from her perspective, when it would have been more powerful coming from Eleanor and Marie. Even though Eleanor was the leader of the operation, I was most interested in Marie and wish more of the book had been told from her perspective; I feel like it was ultimately her story, not Eleanor's, and certainly not Grace's. The narrative also hints several times that Eleanor has some dark secret in her past, and I was disappointed that this narrative point was never resolved. Also, as much as I loved learning about the SOE, I was disappointed to read in the author's note how many liberties Jenoff took in describing the missions. I will still definitely recommend this title in spite of these hangups, though.
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“Create a story of which you will be proud.”

Pam Jenoff has done it again, breaking my heart in pieces and writing another fantastic World War ll novel; this time about women spies! In the same vein as, “The Alice Network”, “The Lost Girls of Paris” centers around three women in the 1940s. Each are connected along the way and form a solid story that is captivating to read about! 

I would say, it seems that the duel/multiple perspectives are popular in historical fiction and I think for the most part this format is great. I mean you sometimes you run into liking one character better than the other, but I still think it’s one of the better ways to tell a story. For this one you have...

Grace Healey, who is rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war. One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, she 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.

Eleanor is a leader of a ring 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.

These three women weave together a story of such bravery and I felt each were given a lovely voice and platform to represent so many women who actually contributed to the war and laid down their lives.
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This was a very emotional read set in WWII. I like how it tells the story of three women who became spies. I recommend this for fans of The Alice Network, The Wartime Sisters, and the Lilac Girls.
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I received an electronic ARC through NetGalley.
Jenoff writes from the perspective of three women during and just after World War II. Two British women - one working in London and one on the ground in France - work for the SOE. One is an American who becomes connected through happenstance after the war.
Eleanor and Marie become connected when Eleanor recruits her for the new women's group to aid the French Resistance and work on war time activities prior to the D-Day invasion. Their story is told in the past tense.
Grace happens to find an abandoned suitcase in Grand Central Station when she's rushing to work. For some reason, she opens it and takes the photos inside. She learns later that day that the woman who owned the suitcase was killed in a car accident that morning. She decides to investigate who the twelve women are and delves into archives to find answers.
Flashback chapters tell Eleanor and Marie's stories interconnected with Grace's story.
Jenoff writes with vivid descriptions about these three women and the emotional and physical toil the war had on them. She presents realistic characters who faced incredible decisions in their lives.
I was pulled in from the first chapter and felt connected to all three women as they made the best choices they could in the face of danger and betrayal.
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