Cover Image: The Parisians

The Parisians

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Member Reviews

I thought that this was a great story, the book totally encapsulated me.  I enjoyed the use of the Ritz Hotel.
I thought that Marius Gabriel told the history of how life was in Paris in the occupation was very good.
I felt moved, dismayed, nervous, excited and thrilled. Such use of emotion in a book makes it a fantastic book in my opinion.
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Great read. Kept me interested and gripped from the very first page. I enjoyed the storyline and the characters and felt drawn into the story itself. Great
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I really enjoyed this book. I am a big fan of historical fiction. The characters in this book were interesting and kept me reading. The fact that some were real and some were based on real people really added to my enjoyment. Telling the story from three different perspectives added to my enjoyment of the book as well. This is a fascinating period of our recent history and the stories of bravery deserve to be told. 

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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I love books about World War II. I don't know why - I just do - something about the struggle that women had during that war resonates with me more than any other time in history. The Parisians is a look at Paris during WWII, and the guests at the Ritz Hotel. Multiple characters, multiple storylines all with the Ritz as the central location makes for an interesting read - we follow high and lower society during the Nazi regime. 

While the concept of this book was great, I was left a little let down. There were so many opportunities to expand on certain characters and timelines and stories. A few just felt flat.

Either way, this is still an okay read.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC in advance of this book's release.
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The next installment in my unintentional historical-fiction journey this month brings me to Paris in the 1940s, just as Hitler and the Nazis have taken over France. The Parisians follows three women who do what it takes to survive in the city they love during the tumultuous World War II. 

Olivia Olsen is a Swedish-American who moved to Paris as a young adult to become a painter and be inspired by the most beautiful city in the world. Penniless and desperate, she gets a job at the Ritz hotel as a chambermaid in order to pay her rent. The Ritz is soon taken over by high-ranking Nazi officers, and Olivia finds herself not only favoured by Hitler's right-hand man but helping the Resistance try to put an end the horrors around them.

Other women staying at the hotel include Coco Chanel, the much-loved fashion designer, who uses the new regime to her advantage, and Arletty, a famous French actress, who finds love in the most unusual of places. Can their careers—and they, themselves—survive Nazi occupation? 

This the first book I've read by Marius Gabriel, and I've got to say: The man really does his research. While there were a few fictional characters in this novel, a large number of the cast was inspired by true events and real people—and we got the imagining of how their stories concluded the way they did. Although I really wasn't interested in Coco Chanel's story in the slightest (it really didn't seem like she worked very hard to get where she was or keep what she had), I was not at all familiar with Arletty, and find myself wanting to delve a little deeper into her biography. Chanel and Arletty were not as three-dimensional as I would have liked—their motivations were not as clear as the third (and most exciting) woman of the novel. The fictional Olivia is where my heart and interest was held the most. She's an ordinary woman of little means who stepped up to try to end a war she could have easily escaped by going home. She's the real hero of this story. 

Though a lot of the plot centres on the love lives of these three women, I wouldn't consider it a romantic book, necessarily. These women had to do what they needed to survive—and sometimes that means falling in love with men they shouldn't. The story is really what's at the heart of this novel, and if the subject matter interests you in the slightest, I would definitely recommend it. I thought it started a little slowly, though, so make sure you give it time before you make your final decision.

3 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK for the advanced copy.

This review will be posted on my blog, The Modest Reader, on January 14 at 10 am at
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This beautiful novel weaves you through the lives of the people of Paris from the start of the Second World War. Centring around the Ritz hotel, sharing the lives of customers, residents and workers. Olivia is a string headed lead character, who suffers great loss and love. This book leaves you wanting to find out the outcomes of the lives, with a few twists thrown in. An amazing read!
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I will say this about this book, thank God for Coco Chanel and Arletty! Those two women made the book worthwhile reading. I found the beginning of the book very hard to get into thanks to Olivia Olsen, this young artist who has come to Paris to paint. She's just the kind of character I have a problem with, a young naive thing that on the very first pages of the book meets a young anarchist that will take her by storm. I was not amused, I found Olivia to be boring to be very frank. However, I kept on reading because as I wrote before there were two bright spots in this book Coco Chanel and the French actress Arletty. Personally, I wouldn't have minded that Olivia had been cut out of the picture and the book had been just about Coco Chanel and Arletty. Although I have to admit Olivia role become more interesting after the Germans occupied France and she started to help the Resistance.

At first, I gave the book 4-stars, but after some considerations did I lover the rating to 3-stars. And, that's because I've read two books previously by Marius Gabriel that I really enjoyed, The Ocean Liner and The Designer. The Parisians can't really measure up to them. It's just not as interesting, unfortunately. Still, there are some really good parts in the book, well everything concerning Coco Chanel and Arletty. I felt that Olivia personality was truly bland and I felt it the most when she interacted with them. She grew a bit better towards the end, but still, the stars of this book were Coco Chanel and Arletty!
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I loved, loved, loved The Parisians by Marius Gabriel. For me, this is historic fiction at it’s best. Set in Nazi occupied Paris during World War II with many of the characters real historic figures such as Coco Chanel, this was a story that fascinated me, chilled me to the bone and totally consumed me. I finished it a few days ago and I’m still suffering from my book hangover. 

The Parisians centres around three women; Olivia, a fictional character who as a struggling artist takes a job as a chambermaid at the famous Ritz Hotel to make ends meet; the real life Arletty, one of the biggest French film stars of the time; and the famous Coco Chanel. All these women are very different with contrasting attitudes to the war and the Nazi occupation.

It is the Ritz that binds the three women together as the famous hotel played an interesting, unique role during the German occupation. It accommodated senior Nazi officers (such as Hermann Goering) who all gave themselves a ninety per cent discount. It also accommodated privileged civilians of other nations, such as Coco Chanel who was sheltered from the severe hardships that the majority of French people suffered. Yet some of the staff spied for the Resistance during the occupation and were arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo.

Until reading this book I had no awareness of Arletty whose film performances are apparently regarded as among the finest in 20th century cinema. Yet she is a controversial figure as she had a public love affair with a German officer during the occupation. The affair is a key storyline in the novel.

Likewise I had no awareness that Coco Chanel also collaborated with the Nazis.

Gabriel writes in such an objective, sensitive manner that really opened my eyes. Yes, living in the 21st century it is easy to judge women that collaborated with the Nazis. And believe me, I was shocked. Yet this is also a novel about women striving to achieve and maintain their talents, their careers, their independence in a society which is dominated by men.

Throughout The Parisians, I was gripped. I was actually genuinely quite scared at times and petrified to turn the next page, but I had to as I was hooked and desperate to know the outcome.

If you’re like me and love historic fiction, you’ll love The Parisians. I know I’ve said it before but it really is historic fiction at its best. When you do read it, take a minute at the end to read the author’s note too. This is also fascinating, especially as I was aware that some of the characters were real, but there is a lot more real people featured in the novel than I could ever imagine.

Thank you to NetGalley, Amazon Publishing UK and Lake Union Publishing for my advance copy. Thank you also Marius Gabriel for this enthralling, vivid and fascinating read. I truly loved it.

The Parisians will be published on 17 January 2019.
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An interesting look at Paris during World War 2, concentrating on the guests and staff at the plush Ritz hotel. It has a mixture of real and fictional characters, including icons such as fashion designer Coco Chanel and French actress Arletty. We also follow the life of fictional character Olivia Olsen, an American chambermaid at the Ritz, hiding her identity behind a Swedish passport. We explore their stories during the Nazi occupation, and the ways each individual handles the oppressive regime. As the Nazi's take over one wing of the famed hotel we find our ladies risking their lives as the war drags on and on.
I did enjoy this book, and some of the characters are memorable, but not really fleshed out too much. This is a very believable tale, we get the lowdown how the Nazi's treated those in a position of privilege. My only real gripe is we don't really get a sense of time. It seems like characters have only just met, then suddenly two years have passed. All in all it's not a bad novel, it just doesn't have what it takes to stand out in a very popular genre.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I could not put this story down! A blend of fictional and real characters revolving around the Paris Ritz in WW2, I loved the contrasts in this story of Nazi and resistance, glamour and suffering, duplicity and raw honesty. It was an incredible, all through the perspective of women. I have read biographies of Chanel, one quote sycophantic and this book was a brutal but believable portrayal of how one had to choose how to policically and socially position oneself during wartime. Please can this be translated into film or TV because it has everything.
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I really enjoyed this novel. It was a great book to fall asleep to every night. The ending was by far the best thing I could have imagine for this story. I was starting to wonder for awhile but everything was tied up nicely and I finally felt a connection to the characters about halfway through. The beginning was good but I didn't really care but the author really turned it around in the second half and I grew the love Olivia. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to read this before it's release date!
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For the first half of this book, I was ready to give it a one-star review. I actually considered abandoning it which I never do. But it really picked up in the second half and by the end I was gripped. So I don’t really understand why the first half of the story exists – if the book had started where the plot did, with Nazi occupation underway and Olivia deciding to use her position as a Chambermaid in the Ritz to help, it would have been action packed and fascinating. Instead, we have to deal with a lot of unconvincing romance and slow chapters to get there. 

I think Marcus Gabriel perhaps tried to do too much with this book. At its heart, we have Olivia, a purely fictional character whose story includes romance, tragedy and a real sense of purpose. But then we also have chapters about Arletty and Chanel, both fascinating women from history, but completely unconnected to Olivia’s story except for passing each other by in the Ritz and occasionally having conversations. Moving between each woman’s story means that none of them have a chance to fully develop, and I wished we could have stayed with each for longer to better understand them. I would love to read a book about any one of these three women, but I didn’t understand why this one was about all three of them.

At times, I also felt uncomfortable about the way sexuality was presented in The Parisians. Three of the female characters are either bisexual or lesbians. One of these women shows sympathy towards the Nazis, one has what seems to be a mental breakdown, and the third is violent and terrifying, at one point attempting to rape a female colleague. While all three of these women are based on historical figures so the author was presumably limited in what he felt he could do with them, the combination of their stories and the way they were presented didn’t sit well with me. 

The strengths of this book lie in its historical setting. I learnt a lot about the role of the Ritz in the war and was fascinated by the author’s note at the end of the book. Lots of the characters in this story are either real historical figures or are based on people from history, and that makes this story feel important even when the plot doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere. 

I love that this is a story trying to tell the war through the eyes of women in different positions. There is interesting discussion of the different standards women are held to in wartime, and the way women are punished by society for the acts they rely on to get by. And despite the frankly terrible sex scenes, women are generally quite empowered in this book, so I’m grateful for that.

Overall, this is a book worth reading if you’re interested in this era or in one of the historical figures featured. However, as a story it’s quite slow and it’s difficult to feel attached to the characters.
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A fascinating insight into how different women handled life in occupied Paris during WW2.  It is fiction but based on real characters during this period.  Those unwilling to give up their privileged lives that they have worked hard to achieve so enjoy the best of the Nazi's occupation.  Others who see the horrors of the Nazi's and SS and join the resistance and a German living in Paris who is gleeful in joining the Gestapo.  Set with the Ritz as the background the book is full of bravery, decadence and pure evil.  I read over a weekend and enjoyed it immensely.   I have read other books from Marius Gabriel and really enjoy his writing.
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In Paris, the Ritz was the place everyone wanted to be during WWII, including the Nazi's.  They took over half of the hotel at a 90% discount, and expected the same lavish treatment as everyone else.  The book concentrates the story around 3 women at the Ritz, and how they all dealt with the invasion.  Coco Chanel decides to put it to her advantage and gets a lover high up in the regime.  Arletty is a French actress who falls deeply in love with a Nazi officer and it ruins her name in society and her career.  Then there is Olivia.  Olivia was a struggling painter before the war, but took a job at the Ritz as a chambermaid because she needed the money.  Her Swiss beauty played to her advantage and she became doted on by one of the top Nazi's.  She turned that to her advantage and became an informant for the resistance.
I could not put this book down.  It was fascinating seeing everything from their viewpoint.  There was some romance, and lots of intrigue and moments where I sat on the edge of my seat.  I can not recommend begin to recommend  this book is definitely a must-read!
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One of my favorite books of 2019. A historical fiction novel based in Paris during WW2. The story follows Olivia Olsen, a midwestern gal that travels to Paris in seek of being an artist. The next few years details her experiences of the war and the figures she meets while working at the Ritz. A fantastic read that breaks your heart while giving you hope.
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Another take on women in Paris during WWII that will appeal to fans of historical fiction where real women play a role.  In this case, Gabriel has merged the stories of Olivia, who is working with the Resistance, with  Leonie Bathiat aka "Arletty", a sympathizer and well, Coco Chanel, who has somehow managed to escape from her collusion.  Look at them as women and this is a better read than if you think about the politics and ethics.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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This was different take on a period of history that I am really interested in. The three different perspective approach worked well as we see how they intertwined with each other. That said it was a little slow for me.
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A book full of twist, turns and unpredictablity . It is set in WW2.
An ok read. 
Thank you to both NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK for my eARC of this book in exchange for my honest unbiased review
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This is a powerful story about love, WW2, this book depicts women’s struggle during the war. This book taught me facts about the war that I didn’t know. 

Overall this book was a good read. It left me breathless at times
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In the end, this book left me breathless and aching.  This is a powerful story about love, World War II, and just what it means to do your duty.  With a mixture of fictional characters and real, Gabriel depicts women's struggles during this war.  The story revolves around Olivia Olsen, an asset to the Resistance, Arletty, a Nazi sympathizer, and Coco Chanel, a Nazi.  

One thing that I really appreciated about this book is that it took women's struggles seriously, regardless of their political affairs.  There's pregnancy, abortion, miscarriages, double standards, threats, and the inevitable being told to "smile."  Each woman made their decision, and they stood by it until the end, even if they didn't necessarily like the consequences.  

Though at times this book seemed strangely catered to the male gaze (warning--there's a failed lesbian rape scene in the later half of this book), it overall did a good job resisting that notion and critiquing the positions women were put into when Nazi men were making the rules.  To smile is to survive, to lie about your identity is to survive, to continue working at a hotel that now serves the enemy in order to be able to eat is to survive.  

One other thing that I really enjoyed about this book is the notion of female solidarity.  When Olivia, Coco, and Arletty had scenes together, there was an unspoken sense of trust between them.  They helped each other get abortions, allowed for one moment for a facade to drop.  Regardless of their choices, they were still women, and as women, they needed to stick together.  

I also learned quite a bit about WWII--I'm not a very big history buff, but it was really fun to be able to learn about names and places and be able to look them up for reference and additional learning.  It helped me contextualize this story a little better.  Not only that, but it also helped me learn a lot more about French culture--which is saying something considering I lived in France.  But again, not knowing much about history, there's always so much to learn!

Overall, this book was an engaging ride, filled with intrigue, and at times, horror.  At times I wanted to sit back and appreciate the detail, and others, I needed to rush through to discover what would happen next.  Just wonderful, absolutely wonderful.
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