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The Parisians

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Member Reviews

The Parisians was a solid account of how WW2 imoacted Paris and the role of The Ritz hotel. The story focuses on the lives of 3 women whose paths intersect theoughout the war at The Ritz. The author includes historical characters including a famous French actress named Arletty and the infamous Coco Channel. At the heart of the story is a young American artist named Olivia Olsen who clings to her Swiss roots and pretends to be from Switzerland. 

Olivia gets a job as a chambermaid at The Ritz and is privy to many of the Nazi's secret plans as she cleans rooms. Her role in the resistance is highlighted. Arletty falls for an SS officer and her budding romance is scorned by French Patriots. Coco is mostly depicted during the first part of the story as she immerses herself with the Nazis. 

I enjoyed Arletty's story and Olivia's story picked up during the second half of the book. I wasn't very interested in Coco's role and found myself quite detached when the plot focused on her. In all, the story was interesting although there was nothing about the war that I didn't already know. So if you tend to read a lot of books with a ww2 backdrop, you may find the historical bits redundant. Where I struggled most with this book, was with it's one dimensional plot and limited opportunity for emotional connection. I enjoyed the love stories and felt these were the instances during which I most strongly connected emotionally. I think if the story had gone a little deeper with its characters, it would have made it that much more heartfelt.

In all, a book that I'd recommend to readers who are interested in a ww2 story that is more superficial in nature and without the raw descriptive atrocities that happened to many people during this time. Some significant occurrences are mentioned but in a lighter way.

Thank you to publisher and NG for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I didn’t enjoy this book very much, so would prefer not to leave a negative review. Thank you for the opportunity to read this ARC!
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I was pleasantly  surprised and delighted with The Parisians.  It was a pretty good realistic novel on Paris during the war  It had great characters that although fictional felt very real.  Seemed like a fresh read and not a repeat of something I have read before
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I will start by saying I absolutely adored this book.

Set in Paris during World War 2, it follows three female characters - Olivia Olsen, Coco Chanel and Arletty (Léonie Bathiat). I loved the mix of fictional and real characters and how they came together in this powerful story and the authors note at the end really completed the story for me. 

I would recommend The Parisians to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.  5 stars
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I have read a lot of WWII novels and one of the things I liked about this one is the mix of fictional characters and historical persons. The Parisians has three POV characters. Olivia Olsen is a young painter from the Midwest who moves to Paris in around 1939 to paint. Olivia is the main character and we follow her through the war as she begins to work at the Ritz and then becomes a spy for the Resistance against Goering. 
The other two characters are Coco Chanel and Arletty. Now I had heard of Chanel before but did not know anything about her past. (Makes me happy I don't own anything Chanel.) But I had never heard of Arletty. The nice contrast of the two historical characters is that they are women who were collaborators during the war and were actually tried after the war for their relationships with German Officers. 
All of the Germans were real people, including Heike who is based on a real woman named Violetle Morris. This is a novel that you would devour in a weekend. If you want a war novel that is a little different definitely give this one a try and read the Author's Note at the end for a little history (it is super short).
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The Parisians follows three main characters in Paris during WWII: American chambermaid-turned-Resistance spy Olivia, French actress Arletty, caught between her loyalty to her country and her German lover, and famed fashion designer (and Nazi-sympathizer, which I had no idea about before reading this) Coco Chanel.

I loved the concept of seeing events from the perspectives of these three very differently positioned women, but honestly I never felt much of a connection to any one of them. There were also the inevitable comparisons of Olivia’s storyline to The Nightingale and The Alice Network, and this just didn’t quite stack up. I still enjoyed the subject matter, but was left wishing it had dug a bit deeper.
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The Parisians is a story of WWII. The Nazi occupation of Paris includes the Ritz hotel. The story is three different perspectives of women within the Ritz. It's interesting to see how each one unfolds because of social class and station and nationality. This is a fascinating time period. Readers of historical fiction will enjoy this book. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Paris, 1940. The Nazis have occupied the city and the Ritz. The opulent old hotel, so loved by Parisians, is now full of swaggering officers, their minions and their mistresses.

For American Olivia Olsen, working as a chambermaid at the hotel means denying her nationality and living a lie, every day bringing the danger of discovery closer. When Hitler’s right-hand man moves in and makes her his pet, she sees an opportunity to help the Resistance—and draw closer to Jack, her contact, whose brusque instructions may be a shield for something more…

Within the hotel, famed designer Coco Chanel quickly learns that the new regime could work to her benefit, while Arletty, one of France’s best-loved actresses, shocks those around her—and herself—with a forbidden love.

But as the war reaches its terrible end, all three women learn the true price of their proximity to the enemy. For in the shadow of war, is anyone truly safe?

'The Parisians' focuses on the story of Olivia who dreams of becoming an artist. Unfortunately, during her early days in France, World War 2 breaks out. The story was very well written and explains the devastating effects of World War II and how the city has been affected, which puts a spotlight on the lives of the workers and the guests of The Hotel Ritz. The story follows how the Nazi's occupied and took over the city, as well as the high-end hotel.

'The Parisians' does an excellent job at painting the events and the hardships the Parisians faced during World War II. As you progress further into the story, you are able to gain a stronger understanding of just how bleak things had become for the county and its citizens. As the reader, it was hard to not feel sympathy and at times, I even felt anger for what these people experienced at the hand of Hitler and the Nazi's. It was nice to have non-fictional characters such as Coco Channel involved in the novel, as for me, it added to the realism of the story and the experiences that people from all walks of lives faced, including the rich and famous. 

The story has three narrators which I found to be a strength of the novel as it meant you weren't losing interest on one character's point of view. However, I felt the change in perspectives, which could have been made more clear by using headings for each character. The story felt long-winded at times, but as you near the end of the book, I realized the story in whole would have suffered without the extra detail.

'The Parisians' has an abundance of characters to keep the reader well entertained. It would almost feel wrong to select a favourite character, however, I felt the story whose was the most captivating was Olivia's as she glued everything together. I was also very fond of whenever Olivia and Jack's relationship was mentioned as it gave a nice break between all the chaos. The book at times was so intense with the events of the wartime period, I felt as if some characters jumped off the page more than others in times of their authenticity. I had no way of guessing how this was going to pan out as there were so many things going on at once.

If I had to change or improve anything, I would make 'The Parisians' have an epilogue as I wanted to know more about the characters after the chaos of World War II. Overall, I was satisfied enough with how the story panned out. Calling all adult Historical Fiction readers, with a particular interest in France and WW2, anyone who read and enjoyed James Moloney's 2017 'The Love I Have', will find a spot for Marius Gabriel's 'The Parisians'. 

With special thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an Honest review.
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I really felt Marius Gabriel captured the spirit of Paris and The Ritz in this and even more, he was more historically accurate than most others out there. I was so impressed with this book and I read it as if I were needing air haha I couldn't put it down. I will say that at some parts Oliva's chapters were too flowery for me, but, on the whole, I went from being a bit annoyed with her character to admiring her. I wasn't sure what type of ending it would be as the novel did go quite dark, which was reasonable given the plots, but it was a really satisfying one. 

Coco and Arletty were very dynamic and I wasn't sure what I was going to get reading this book, maybe just some fluff, but it turned out to be more than that. You were allowed to feel sympathy and revulsion at some parts, to look at the darker parts of the human soul and still allowed some hope. The writing is eloquent, the shift of the characters lets you know the author has thought greatly on how each perspective will be laid out for the reader and I look forward to reading more by Marius Gabriel.

I was allowed to read a free e-copy from NetGalley of this in exchange for my honest opinion. I'm not paid, I'm poor, a hobo really who just happens to like lovely books and this is one of them.
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  Despite the gritty and often gory details of the Gestapo’s torture actions, this WWII historical fiction and romance novel was really fascinating.  I was reintroduced to several historical figures through a new light, and found Gabriel’s portrayal of the humanized side of the “evil” parties and the dark side of the “good” protagonists very intriguing.  I did not know much of what happened leading up to the German occupation of France, and the fact that many locations, such as the famous Ritz hotel in Paris, experienced a divided and almost surreal suspension of the terrors happening around it made for a great story backdrop.
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#TheParisians follows Olivia (an American artist), Arletty (the leading lady of French cinema) and Coco Chanel as they live through the occupation of Paris by the Nazis.  Olivia works at the Ritz, where Arletty and Coco live for much of the story, and it is richly bought to life by the author as well as occupied Paris.

There is intrigue and heartbreak as the Gestapo do their terrible works, forbidden lovers meet and part and a look into the shameful way many embraced Nazism as it benefitted then financially.

Thank you to #NetGalley and the publisher for my free advance copy in return for an unbiased review.
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The Parisians was a new take on looking at what happened I'm France during World War 2. Here you are seeing the war and occupation through those that work and live at the Ritz hotel. Yoi get to see how the rich we're affected by the Nazi's as well as those with less. There are characters within the story that are real people, which I found fascinating. It brought them to life for me. 
I struggled a little with getting into the story. I love all things World War 2 and was really excited to read this book. It was an enjoyable read and did open my mind to some things I had not thought of before. But I felt like the characters could have been added to a little bit more. I was left wanting more from some of them, feeling they were not completely flushed out. 
I have never read Marius Gabriel before, but I did enjoy this novel. It is an interesting take on a time when many books are written. It was nice to find something that wasn't just the same old story that we know.
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The Parisians by Marius Gabriel (3 Stars)

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.

This is a book of historical fiction, yet with a lot of reality thrown into the mix.  The book follows three main characters, Olivia, Arletty and Coco, all within the context of their relationship to Olivia.

Let’s start with Olivia, the fictional character.  Just before World War II, Olivia is an American in Paris studying to be an artist, albeit a starving one at the moment.  She meets Fabrice, an anarchist, falls in love, and goes to work at the Ritz Hotel.  The Nazis soon occupy Paris and commandeer the Ritz Hotel.  Fabrice is killed, and her anger over his death leads Olivia to become a spy for the Resistance.  As a chambermaid at the Ritz, she has access to the Nazis’ living quarters and any papers they may have.

Based on reality, the French actress Arletty has an affair with the German officer Hans Jürgen Soehring.  Arletty and Olivia become friends, which I just totally did not understand.  Arletty is branded a collaborator and marked for death by the Resistance, yet Olivia tries to see the gray areas and feels benevolent toward her.

Also based on reality is the story of Coco Chanel, who lived at the Ritz for most of her life.  It is well-known that not only was she was a collaborator, she initiated schemes to rid herself of her Jewish partners.  Once again, Olivia feels some compassion for her.

I tried to like the book, and will say that I learned a lot about the real-life people portrayed as it led me to do some research.  But the characters just seemed hollow, especially Olivia.  For a woman who is a spy in the Resistance, she lacks...something.  Passion?  Drive?  Anger?  Hate?  At some points it felt like I was reading a Harlequin novel.  It just didn’t click for me, and didn’t add to the story.  I would have preferred some more grittiness of the Resistance and less of the debauchery and opulence of the wealthy.
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Readers choose books for all sorts of reasons and I am no exception. I chose this book specifically for its title because Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world. I may have mentioned this in other reviews, but I cried the very first time I saw that city and if the Eiffel Tower had been a person, well it most likely asked me to stop taking pictures of it. The fact that it was also surrounding the WWII era was a plus. 

Juggling characters can be difficult, in the case of The Parisians, we have three very interesting characters( a chambermaid, a French actress, and Coco Chanel) and one intriguing setting- the Ritz hotel. Since this was the main place of entertainment and rest for the main players in the Nazi regime, our plot is driven by plenty of wartime intrigue. While young Swedish-American Olivia is driven to spy on Herman Goering after her lover dies at the hands of the Gestapo, French actress Arletty balances a fine line between the France she knew and what it has become, and Marius Gabriel leaves little doubt about designer Coco Chanel's collaboration with the Nazis.

I enjoyed this story, reading it in one sitting, and despite one foolish sex scene in which both genders sexual organs were described as particular flowers, I felt this was a good addition to the WWII era library.
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Amazing and emotional read. I'm disappointed to say that I had not read anything by this author before. I loved the mix of real and fictional characters, some of which I had never heard about before this. I would like to thank the publishers and netgalley for letting me have the book to review.
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EXCERPT: . . . the eve of war had come as a shock. It was here suddenly, the thing they had all dreaded but not wished to look at, like the monster that lurked under the beds of children. Now, with terrifying purpose, it had clambered out and proved itself real after all. 

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Paris, 1940. The Nazis have occupied the city¬—and the Ritz. The opulent old hotel, so loved by Parisians, is now full of swaggering officers, their minions and their mistresses.

For American Olivia Olsen, working as a chambermaid at the hotel means denying her nationality and living a lie, every day bringing the danger of discovery closer. When Hitler’s right-hand man moves in and makes her his pet, she sees an opportunity to help the Resistance—and draw closer to Jack, her contact, whose brusque instructions may be a shield for something more…

Within the hotel, famed designer Coco Chanel quickly learns that the new regime could work to her benefit, while Arletty, one of France’s best-loved actresses, shocks those around her—and herself—with a forbidden love.

But as the war reaches its terrible end, all three women learn the true price of their proximity to the enemy. For in the shadow of war, is anyone truly safe? 

MY THOUGHTS: What began as a fairly average read about a young American woman in Paris to make her name as an artist, slowly morphed into a gritty novel of surviving the war, and the German occupation of Paris, by whatever means possible. 

I particularly liked how the author contrasted the lives of these three women, whose lives intersect at times, to give different perspectives. I also liked how he contrasted the grim reality, the melancholy of everyday life under the occupation, with rare moments of unadulterated joy, the spark that lit the desire to survive, no matter what. 

The book is peppered with real people. I learned a lot about Coco Chanel. I had never known her background, nor that she was a Nazi sympathizer. I had, in the past, simply admired her style. And I had never heard of Arletty, the French film star. 

At the end of the book, the Author's Note provides a lot of information about the people in the book who were real and what happened to them after the war, as well as further information about the history of the Ritz Hotel in Paris. It, like the book itself, is well worth reading. 

Although one of the categories I have assigned The Parisians is romance, don't let that put you off. There is no schmaltzy romance, more of an awakening, and nothing that is inappropriate to the story. If anything, the love story enhances the overall realism. 

This is not a book to be rushed through. It is a book to be lingered over, one that may challenge your previous perceptions about the people on both sides of the war. 

I would like to read more by this author. 


THE AUTHOR: Marius Gabriel is an international thriller and mystery writer.

Under the pseudonym Madeleine Ker, he wrote over 30 romance novels in the 1980s.

As Marius Gabriel he has written several mystery best-sellers, some of them historical novels.

He has three grown-up children and currently lives in Cairo and London.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Parisians by Marius Gabriel for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. 

Please refer to my profile page or the about page on for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my page
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A fascinating work of historical fiction set during the turbulent World War II era in Paris, this book takes real life people and places and weaves them into a compelling narrative. The story follows the adventures of a young American woman, Olivia Olsen who has travelled to Paris to follow her dreams of becoming an artist, On the eve of war breaking out, she meets a charming young man who sweeps her off her feet. Unable to support herself by her art she becomes a chambermaid at the luxurious Ritz hotel, and when the Germans roll into the city she becomes a personal favourite of Goring, who has quarters at the hotel. Tragedy strikes when her lover is caught distributing anti German materials ,and he is tortured and killed. Determined to seek revenge Olivia uses her beauty and position at the hotel to spy and a dangerous game of cat and mouse ensues. 
I thoroughly enjoyed this fabulous book, I felt the author did a tremendous job of bringing the luxurious and glamorous world of the Ritz to life, as well as the depressing and terrifying brutality experienced by the Parisians under German occupation, Incorporating real life personalities such as Coco Chanel was a really nice touch, adding to the authentic feel of the book, and it is clear that the author has done a good deal of research into the history, setting and people he is writing about. The book starts gently and lulls you into the story , but the tension and drama increases throughout, and if I had any criticism, and it is a slight one, I thought that the ending felt just a little rushed in comparison, 
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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I do enjoy reading historical fiction and especially enjoy reading books where WW2 is concerned.  This is the first time that i have read any books by Marius Gabriel and have a few more which shall be reading soon.  I am not going to write what this story is about, as i prefer one to read the story for themselves.  Recommended.

My thanks to Netgalley and the Publishers.  This is my honest review.
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I received this from NetGalley, which is sometimes as much a crapshoot as First Reads—lots of hype, purple prose, breathless blurbs, and not much in the way of objectivity.  In light of the perfectly awful schlock I’ve read lately—Harlequin-style romances masquerading as WWII novels—a free ARC or KU was all I was willing to spend my time with.

But this time I was surprised and delighted:  The Parisians is a good, gritty, urbane, accurate, practical, frightening, realistic, and generally pitch-perfect novel of a little slice of Paris during the war.  It is stuffed with characters that are completely fictional, completely real, and loosely based on real personages.  It resonates with emotions, situations, mishaps, serendipitous moments, and sweaty-palms heart-stopping scenes, and none of them ever struck me as either clichéd or fraught with the dreaded “I’ve read all this before” syndrome.  And the best part?  No smarmy, over-the-top, twee, treacly Romance anywhere.

There is much to like about a main character named Olivia from Minnesota who dwells in a spare, Spartan walk-up room in Paris, earnestly studying painting—a losing proposition, as it turns out—and selling quick pastiches of passersby along the Seine to pay her rent and buy food.  Olivia is not glamorous or beautiful or exotic—she’s a second-generation Swede, pleasant, practical, and pretty.  I have to say that Minnesota was a clever touch.  Suffice it to say that art does not pay. Olivia meets a young man and, much more important, his mother, who gets her past the various dragons guarding all the doors of The Ritz Hotel and into a position as a lowly—very lowly—housekeeper.

The work is back-breaking and endless and poorly paid, but Olivia’s Scandinavian genes kick in and she slogs on, head mostly down.  It is the hotel that is the real character here, with its patina of elegance, almost sinful luxury—and in many cases most definitely sinful—and unrepentant hauteur as only the Parisians can manage.  The hotel, yes, and its guests, with their larger than life personalities and even larger egos bolstered by the prevailing winds of politics during the Nazi occupation of Paris.  There are quite a few here to despise: the brittle, nasty Coco Chanel who lived in splendor at the Ritz as she openly collaborated in every sense of the word with the highest ranking Nazis; the amazing film star Arletty, originally from a dark, poverty-ridden northern Paris suburb; fat, demonic, and unstable Heinrich Himmler who alternated between looting art and entertaining strings of young women in his suite; the reclusive—and Jewish—wife of the hotel’s owner who rarely ventured from her apartments in the hotel’s penthouse; and a particularly loathsome, lethal piece of Aryan womanhood who fixates on Olivia,  I did not find anything inane or artificial or even ho-hum about anyone in this decidedly odd but accurate menagerie.

Even better than these well-developed, multidimensional characters is the spot-on atmosphere of Paris during the Nazi occupation: gray, austere, and dangerous, where most Parisians kept to themselves to worry about food, fuel, and survival.  By contrast, we see the pockets of light, fevered gaiety, and luxury, where the collaborators drink and dance with their alleged occupiers, and scorn those gray, worn people who scurry, heads down, along the streets.  The Resistance also makes an appearance, this time not as a giant club that anyone and everyone joins, rather like the Boy Scouts, but as a quiet, secret, and hidden network that knows the slightest mistake can be—and almost always is—fatal to many.  Olivia is not a member of the Resistance, but she helps in an entirely believable manner, complete with fear, sweat, near-misses, and a couple of moments approaching the familiar trope of the young girl going into the dark basement because she hears a noise.

From first to last, this novel was an entertaining and erudite melange of wit, humor, terror, despair, hopelessness, regret, and perhaps a dozen more emotions one might experience during wartime and in an occupied city.  The prose is strong, not pretentious or forced, with natural dialogue that says what the characters need to say and then stops, and a steady, forward-moving plot.  Yes, those are the basics of a good read, but the author adds substantially more, lifting this tale above its nearest competitors in the WWII genre.

Oh, if anyone read that horrible gossipy, inaccurate, and poorly written National Enquirer version of the Ritz Hotel during the war by an alleged historian, Tilar Mazzeo, please, read The Parisians instead. Even though it is historical fiction, it is far better and definitely more accurate on all levels.
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Thanks to netgalley for an early copy in return for an honest review 
What a fantastic  insight to how the other half lived at the world famous  Ritz in Paris.
Ì found this an intriguing  plot  and can highly recommend  this book to family and friends
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