By: Natasha Lester

Published: September 3, 2019

Publisher: Forever/Hachette Book Group

Historical Fiction

My book club received copies of this book as part of the GalleyMatch with The Bookclub Cookbook. We chose this as our August/September read and spent the day junk/antique shopping and eating at a small-town pub, where we discussed the book.

The book starts with Jessica May, a Vogue model who is looking for a change in her life. She wants something with a little more importance. She has written some and dabbled in photography a bit thanks to her photographer boyfriend. But, she is ready for a fresh start after a deep betrayal and an embarrassing advertisement for women’s personal products. After lots of begging and pressure from an editor at Vogue, she lands a ticket to be a war correspondent in Europe.

Her first night in Italy, she spends it praying for her life in a muddy ditch. She befriends a soldier who helps save her life and begins to photograph parts of the war never seen before. This soldier has become the only family to a young girl orphaned by war and this young girl ties Jessica and this soldier together forever.

There is also a present-day story of a young art handler who lands a key job handling the art of “The Photographer”, a world-famous war photographer who is having a rare showing in Australia. As she handles the art, secrets are exposed that appear to connect her life to “The Photographer”.

As you can imagine, there was a lot going on in this novel. Maybe even too much. All three of us felt like the present-day story wasn’t as interesting as the war-time story. The insight and background on the hardships and heart of the female war correspondents were fascinating and a little-told story from the war. We appreciated the personal effects the war had on the many characters met in the story. The main character Jessica May was based on the real Lee Miller, a former model turned war correspondent. While reading the book, I was reminded of another book that told the Lee Miller/Man Ray story, THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN.

The story is engaging and held our attention for the most part, but the last 150 pages or so for us (out of over 400) were the least favorite and that is usually not the case with a book. Without giving anything away, we were all frustrated with the turn of events at the end of the book. The ending was not what we were hoping for and it seemed that everything that could go wrong did go wrong. It was a disappointment to us as readers to read all the hurt and pain in the characters. I really felt like the writing during war-time was full of detail and emotion and descriptions that painted the horrors of war. The end of the book turned into more of a soap opera drama with spiteful characters and immature behaviors that seemed very unlike the character’s behaviors in the first parts of the book.

The author obviously did meticulous research and the best part of the book is the stories unearthed during the war. I always feel like I learn something new each time I read a book set during WWII and this one was no exception. I just wish the last third of the book was written with the same care as the first two-thirds.

Fans of WWII, women overcoming sexism, and romance will find much to love about reading THE PARIS ORPHAN.

To purchase a copy of THE PARIS ORPHAN, click the photo below:

Natasha Lester worked as a marketing executive for L’Oreal before penning the internationally bestselling novel THE PARIS SEAMSTRESS. When she is not writing, she loves collecting vintage fashion, traveling, reading, practicing yoga, and playing with her three children. Natasha lives in Perth, Western Australia. Check out her website, HERE.

Thanks to the publisher and BookClub Cookbook for sending copies of this book for our book club members. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.

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  1. Patty LaFountaine on October 29, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    I too am very disappointed in how the book ends. It is very abrupt and really does not even tell you what happened to the main character. How did she die?
    I also did not like the explicit sexual content and believe that should be left to the imagination of the reader. I read the Paris Seamstress and really enjoyed it and thought this would be a better book. I am in 2 Book Clubs and will never recommend this book to either one.

  2. Beth on March 24, 2021 at 5:41 pm

    I agree very unsatisfying ending. I’m wondering if it was ever stated who Victorine’s parents were. It seems there is a hint that Jess was involved more than was explained. So Jess was the mother of D’Arcy who was given to Victorine to raise but near the end Dan says (by questioning) that D’Arcy is Jess’ granddaughter????? Huh?

    • Stacie on March 25, 2021 at 3:17 pm

      I hadn’t thought about that. Good point. It was a bit confusing with all the secrets and names.

    • Liz Sanders on June 14, 2021 at 5:08 pm

      I did not understand the ending of this book at all.
      The first two thirds was fine but the last third was so rushed and confusing.

    • Janis Paquette on February 6, 2022 at 12:13 am

      Jess is the grandmother of D’Arcy. That part came clear to me. But how did Jess end up with the castle and where did Mosh come from.
      Very dissatisfying end. Why not reunite them. Why not go a DNA then available to proof D’Arcys grandfather.
      Ending turned me off the book.

      • Janis Paquette on February 6, 2022 at 12:17 am

        Edit to my comment.So much for proofreading and spell correct
        -where did Josh come from
        – why not do a DNA as in D’Arcys generation these were available and would prove who the grandfather was, or Ellie’s (Ellis) real father

  3. Stacie on February 7, 2022 at 12:50 am

    You have a valid point. As you can see, several other commenters were also confused and dissatisfied with the ending. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Karen on March 6, 2022 at 4:20 pm

    Was it stated in the book what happened to James?
    The book did get confusing trying to keep track of all the characters.

  5. Deanna on May 23, 2023 at 1:46 am

    I read Chapter 26 and this book took a turn for the worst. So disappointed. According to the storyline, nothing is mentioned about Amelia’s parents until she becomes disfigured and now dad rides in on his horse to rescue her? Whatever. Dan would have had a great reputation in the war – that a court Marshall would be introduced to compel Dan to marry Amelia is too much. Men back in the day would have been less likely to side with a daughter (women had less credibility), than a stellar leader in the war. Dan would have won because more people would defend his honour. I googled the outcome because this chapter angered me…to find out if there is a happy ending. Thanks for telling me there isn’t – won’t waste my time finishing.

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