THE PARIS ORPHAN
By: Natasha Lester
Published: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Forever/Hachette Book Group
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.