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The Paris Daughter

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Member Reviews

The Paris Daughter

by Kristin Harmel

World War II brings death, horror, and destruction to the civilians of Paris in this tension filled story of three women who have to make difficult decisions. They are never relieved of the agony of questioning their own judgements and actions: what would a good mother do?

Elise is the belittled wife of a famous painter whose actions put his family in danger. Juliette has the perfect charmed family life until the bombs begin to fall. Ruth Levy is a widowed mother whose Jewish religion and heritage endangers her children. As you read this novel, you will get to know these women and see how each reacts to hardships and trials. You can decide for yourself what it takes to be a good mother and whether any of these ladies are good mothers.

Alongside the main plot in The Paris Daughter, there is another that emerges; it interweaves and is essential to the first. It deals with artists at the time, how they interacted and how they were affected by the war. Elise was a wood sculptor and a painter. Art helped her through the emotional trauma of the war. Art also helped Juliette’s daughter deal with her mother’s increasing mental distress. Alongside these therapeutic benefits, we also witness the personal devastation that occurs when Elise returns home to discover her apartment has been looted of the valuable artwork she and her husband had created.

There are hints along the way as to what may have occurred personally during the war to these families. Eventually the characters and the reader learn the truth, and with the truth there is a way forward. Some of the characters are despicable, while others are noble and honorable. Some crumble morally under the stresses.

This book was a page turner for me, but was also a novel I found upsetting. The depiction of the characters is realistic so watching bad things happen to them was hard. As this book is set in World War II, not everyone is going to have a happily ever after. It is a book I recommend if you enjoy historical fiction, particularly about WWII.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Historical Fiction

Notes: In the author’s notes she responds to questions about why she is drawn to history as her subject matter: “My reasons are numerous, but perhaps the most important one is that if we don’t learn from history, we run the risk of repeating it. Too often in recent years, those of us who read frequently about World War II have seen shadows of that long-ago war in current events and it’s difficult seeing versions of past horrors happening again.”

Publication: June 6, 2023—Gallery Books

Memorable Lines:

Later, Olivier snored peacefully beside Elise while she wiped tears of despair away. He only seemed to see her these days when he wanted the closeness of her; at all other times, his indifference cut her to the core. She owed Olivier everything, and perhaps that was what made it so difficult when it felt to her, sometimes, that he was trying to erase her.

“This isn’t a decision I make lightly, but being a parent is not about dong what is right for ourselves, is it? It’s about sacrificing all we can, big and small, to give our children their best chance at life.”

“There must be something we can do.” “There is,” Madame Levy said. “You can pray for my children. And you can talk to yours about never turning their back on their fellow man. Maybe one day, we’ll all live in a batter world.”

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This was another beautful book by Kristin Harmel - starting in Paris 1939 when Elise is targeted by the Germans. She asks her dear friend Juliette to care for her own daugther. Over a year later, mother returns for her daughter, but realizes that Juliette's bookstore was destroyed, and the two are nowhere to be found. This book did not feel like just another WWII book.. wonderful.

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A beautifully rendered, heartfelt story of two families completely devastated by the Nazis in WWII. Kristin Harmel is the queen of WWII fiction. The story has both heartbreaking and uplifting moments and lots of suspense intertwined with historical detail.

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Heartbreaking and beautiful. I loved this book & how the story spanned years. I also loved that even though it was historical fiction based around WW2, we got to see the characters and how their lives progressed after the war was over and also the affect that World War 2 had on the decades following.

I loved this book, even though it was hard to read and full of emotion. I think some of the content felt more close to home because I am a new mom - so if you are sensitive about content, may want to skip this one.

Thank you to the publisher & NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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The Paris Daughter by Kristin Harmel follows two young mothers and friends Elise and Juliette as they struggle to deal with the threat of war in 1939 Paris. When Elise becomes a target for the Germans, she entrusts Juliette with her own daughter in the hopes that she will be safe. When Paris is struck by bombs, carefully laid plans made by Elise and Juliette go awry.

I ended up really enjoying this book. I loved the exploration of several different complex relationships including the mother/daughter relationship, the relationship between friends, and the relationship between husband and wife in two very different marriages. The author explores these relationships before, during, and after the war. It was interesting to see how different people dealt with the traumatic events of the war. The exploration of the difficult decisions that need to be made during wartime was also thoughtfully done.

I have read one other book by Kristin Harmel and enjoyed this one much more than the other. It was heart-wrenching and heartwarming in equal measure.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this historical fiction!

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Excellent story about two women who met at one’s bookstore in Paris.. one needed to leave Paris being a Jew.
The story goes through the bombing of Paris..
A must read.

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I read this book in one day. I was captivated by the story and how the events unfolded. I am a big fan of this writer and have enjoyed her previous work.

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A beautiful read that shares the devastation of war and the lengths a mother will go to keep her child safe. Kristin Harmel has talent; I enjoy all of her books.

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Wow. I absolutely loved this book. I haven’t read a Kristin Harmel book that hasn’t knocked my socks off and this one is my favorite. I even had to go out and by a physical copy just because I needed one on my shelf.

Juliette and Elise’s struggles and decisions they’re forced to make as mothers during the war are heartbreaking. I figured out the one big twist pretty quickly, but that didn’t stop me from reading to figure out how everything would turn out.

Thank you NetGalley and Gallery Books for my ARC of this book.

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I enjoyed this book but it’s sad, and I guessed the twist before the book ended. It’s got wonderful descriptions of Paris, and the horrors of WWII are discussed carefully.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed as in this review are completely my own.

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The Paris Daughter by Kristin Harmel is an engrossing historical novel that portrays the dilemmas and sacrifices of two mothers who face the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. The book is based on meticulous research and authentic historical events and figures, such as the Resistance, the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, and the Librairie des Rêves, a real bookstore that was obliterated by a bomb. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates historical fiction, particularly about World War II and France, or who is intrigued by the themes of friendship, motherhood, and survival. The Paris Daughter by Kristin Harmel is a moving and compelling historical novel that honors the strength and grace of female friendship and motherhood, while also revealing the atrocities and difficulties of war and occupation. It is a book that will elicit tears, smiles and linger with you after you finish.

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I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley- thank you.

This book was absolutely heartbreaking to read as a mother of three young children. It was an interesting perspective because a lot of the focus was on trauma and healing after the war vs. the events themselves. Kristin Harmel has definitely become a must-read author for me.

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Thank you, Gallery Books for this ARC! I was surprised and super excited!

Lots of Trigger Warnings: infant/child loss, abandonment, loss of identity, graphic warfare, depression, grief, narcissistic/verbal/emotional abuse

I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a book based in the time following a war rather than mostly during it, but this helped me understand history in a different way. This was not a light read nor action-packed like The Book of Lost Names, however I appreciated the nod to the other book with cameos that arose. This deep exploration of grief and identity displays the resiliency of the human spirit as well as the inseparable bonds between family and friends. I appreciated how it mirrored both societal recover with personal recovery. And, though it wasn’t a happy read, it is one that will stay with me and one in which I’ll think of often because of its impact.

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The Paris Daughter I have been looking forward to reading and once I started I could not put it down. Such an interesting look at the way War changes us. Grief is not something that stops, it is something if you are fortunate, you find a way to have it be a part of your life, but can continue on with a future.

Made me really think about different issues so many families had to deal with that I hadn’t previously thought about. Very engaging and emotional story. Beautiful look at the bound between Mothers and Daughters. I love Kristin Harmel’s stories and this one was spectacular.

Thank you NetGalley, Kristin Harmel, and Gallery Books for a copy of this book. I always write reviews of books I read.

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Kristin, you just keep getting better and better.. This was such a beautiful book of war, mothers and daughters. I loved it!

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It's 1939, and Elise finds herself a target of the German occupation. She has a heartbreaking decision to make— keep her daughter with her, knowing she's in danger, or leave her with her friend, bookstore owner Elise, who has a daughter of her own.

When Elise returns to Paris one year later, she's expecting a happy reunion with her daughter. Instead, she finds a pile of rubble where the bookstore once stood and no trace of Juliette or the children.

This painfully beautiful novel shows how far a mother's love goes.

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Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! No spoilers. Beyond amazing I enjoyed this book so very much. The characters and storyline were fantastic. The ending I did not see coming Could not put down nor did I want to. Truly Amazing and appreciated the whole story. This is going to be a must read for many many readers. Maybe even a book club pick.

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This is another amazing historical fiction novel from Kristin Harmel. I was moved by the stories of two friends in Nazi-occupied Paris. It was beautifully written and I could understand the emotions and challenges of Elise and Juliette. I highly recommend to historical fiction readers.

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This is an emotional read about how far mothers will go to protect their children during wartime. I loved the friendship between Elise, Juliette, and Ruth and how they supported each other when painful decisions had to be made. Each woman had a different experience during the war, but they all did what they could to help protect the children affected by the war. The story was gut-wrenching at times, but the ending was uplifting. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy reading WWII fiction!

Thank you NetGalley and Gallery Books for the ARC in exchange for my honest review!

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The Paris Daughter is a book about Elise and Juliette, two young mothers living in France during the late 1930's and WW2 era. Elise and Juliette meet in a park and become fast friends. Elise is married to Oliver, a talented artist. Elise is pregnant with their first child.

Juliette is married to Paul and together they own a bookshop and are parents to two young boys. Juliette is pregnant as well. Both women give birth to girls, and they become like family to one another, France becomes drawn into WW2 and their world is no longer a safe place.

Elise needs to flee Paris due to her husband's war time activities. She has no option but to leave her daughter with her close friend Juliette. When the war ends Elise makes her way back to Paris but comes to find that the bookstore is in ruins and her friend and daughter are nowhere to be found,

I found the first half of the book to be interesting and enjoyable. I loved reading about these two women and their lives. The second half of the book fell flat for me. The "twist" in this book was painfully obvious to me and from there the story felt repetitive and boring. Also, perhaps it was my fault for selecting this, as I feel that the historical fiction genre is now inundated with WW2 stories that add to the repetitive feel.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of this novel.

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