Paris Never Leaves You
by Ellen Feldman
My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: Historical fiction
A story of survival at all costs and the aftermath of war and trauma, Paris Never Leaves You is told in alternating timelines. Charlotte survived occupied Paris and moved to America to start a new life, but the past is never quite in the past. One letter is all it takes to bring back a flood of memories and unravel Charlotte’s life.
There’s plenty to appreciate about this book, from the descriptions of life in occupied Paris to the very real trauma involved in later years. Charlotte’s daughter deals with prejudice and strives to learn more about the heritage that has people hating her for no reason. I had no issues with the dual time periods, and appreciated seeing a different part of WWII than I’ve most often read about in books.
You may read some reviews where it mentions the romances in this book–one in each time period. Let’s not kid ourselves–none of this is “romance.” Charlotte’s decisions in Paris are the kind where you can’t really say what you’d do unless you’re in the situation yourself. Her decisions in New York nearly ruined the book for me. There was no need for the relationship to happen the way it did (or at all, really), and I’m just not a fan of infidelity romance. Her reason for not getting off his lap when he gave her the wheelchair ride was a cop-out, plain and simple, and it went downhill from there, for me.
All that said, I am glad I read the book. It brings up a lot of moral quandaries, from start to finish. It can really make you think, questioning how you would act in that situation, both in Charlotte’s shoes, but also in many other characters’. I do think that fans of historical fiction, especially WWII/Holocaust related fiction, will like this book. But steer clear if you don’t like your heroines getting involved with married men. Also be aware, there is at least one slightly graphic physical encounter in the book, though fortunately not very much of it.
If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!