Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: Last Train to Paris

Source:  TLC Book Tours

Last Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim
Genre:  Historical Fiction, WWII
Pages: 320 (ARC)
Author's Website |  Facebook
Buy it: Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Book Depo

1935. Rose Manon, an American daughter of the mountains of Nevada, working as a journalist in New York, is awarded her dream job, foreign correspondent. Posted to Paris, she is soon entangled in romance, an unsolved murder, and the desperation of a looming war. Assigned to the Berlin desk, Manon is forced to grapple with her hidden identity as a Jew, the mistrust of her lover, and an unwelcome visitor on the eve of Kristallnacht. And . . . on the day before World War II is declared, she must choose who will join her on the last train to Paris.
This is a carefully researched historical novel that reads like a suspense thriller. Colette and Janet Flanner are only two of the well-known figures woven into the story. The parts they play will surprise readers. Last Train to Paris will enthrall the same audience that made In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson and Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky bestsellers
My Rating:
The return of old documents takes Rose back to one of the most difficult times in her life and career.  Through flashbacks and the insight that comes when looking back, Rose recounts her life and career during World War II.  She recounts the beginning of her career when it was still rare to see a woman writing for a newspaper.  She also recounts her time in Paris and Germany as a Jew in a time where they were being exterminated.  But she can't tell this story without remembering love and the hardships of family.

This was an interesting read in so many ways.  I had some difficulty adjusting to the writing style and the format of the book.  The story switches back and forth between the past and present quickly, listing names and recounting stories.  I didn't always know whether I was in the past and present and had difficulty keeping up with the characters since their introductions were often short and random.  And a character's reappearance a hundred pages later often confused me because I just couldn't remember the connection.  But once I became accustomed, it was much easier  to enjoy.  I loved the unique perspective of Rose.  She was an American Jew--one who didn't see herself as a Jew--living and working in Paris and Berlin during World War II.  I was intrigued about her experience and how being American afforded her some protections and not others.  I wonder how close to truth this is and it makes me want to read more about American Jews in Europe during such a dangerous time.  I didn't love Rose because she seemed a bit selfish.  And I was disappointed with the ending because it was so abrupt.

Overall, I enjoyed this one most because I saw a different perspective that intrigued me.

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  1. "one who didn't see herself as a Jew" - I think there were a lot of people in the 1930s and 1940s who were surprised to find themselves categorized as Jewish since they weren't practicing. It must have been a horrible shock to be targeted like that.

    Thanks for being a part of he tour!

    1. It was a shock to me. And I can really understand how it happened since it is a religion and not a race. It was just so intriguing that this book addressed that perspective.

  2. Sounds really good!! :) I think I would like the foreign setting

  3. I agree that the ending was rather abrupt but I really liked the writing style once I got used to it and because, as you mentioned, Rose had such a different perspective as an American and as someone who didn't recognize her Jewish heritage. And Paris was the perfect setting for such a story.


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