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Tuesday, 9 December 2014
A Week In Paris
A Week In Paris
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher
1961: Born on the day that WW2 broke out, 21-year-old Fay Knox cannot remember her early childhood in London, before she moved to a Norfolk village with her mother, Kitty. Though she has seen a photograph of her father, she does not recall him either. He died, she was told, in an air raid, and their house destroyed along with all their possessions. Why then, on a visit to Paris on tour with her orchestra, does a strange series of events suggest that she spent the war there instead? There is only one clue to follow, an address on the luggage label of an old canvas satchel. But will the truth hurt or heal?
1937: Eugene Knox, a young American doctor, catches sight of 19-year-old Kitty Travers on the day she arrives in Paris, and cannot get her out of his mind. She has come to study the piano at the famed Conservatoire, and lodges at a convent near Notre Dame. Eugene and Kitty will fall in love, marry and have a daughter, but France's humiliating defeat by Germany is not far behind, and the little family must suffer life under Nazi occupation. Some Parisians keep their heads down and survive, others collaborate with the enemy while others resist. The different actions of Eugene, Kitty and their friends will have devastating consequences that echo down the generations.
So, I wasn't sure what to expect from this, but it's safe to say this gave me so much more than what I was expecting, I was expecting solid romance all the way through and I don't know what else, while there is romance, it's not the main part of the story, although it has to be noted, I thought both where kind of similar.
We switch from time to time, as the story of Fay's mother Kitty is told, and the time hops where perfectly placed and very well done, as a secondary character is telling the story, she will lead in to it and then boom, it's Kitty's pov in her time with what's happening. I must say, it was very well depicted, I've not had the fortune of going to Paris yet, but I feel like I've been there, admittedly to an out of date Paris, but still. I also didn't know all that much about France in WW2, I learned mostly about England and Germany, so I was fascinated to see what kind of things went on in France, with the persecution of the Jews stretching to there and so on. There was such a lot of historical information, and it was all relayed perfectly, capturing your interest but not bogging down the narrative.
Admittedly, I started reading this and was intrigued, but felt like it hit a bit of a slow patch, to be honest I kind of felt like all of Fay's pov was a bit slow for me, it didn't capture my attention much as Kitty's parts of the story. Kitt's narrative was fast paced, and just totally fascinated me and gripped my attention and I couldn't stop reading, Fay's pov was a bit meh for me, but that could be because I didn't like Fay that much.
Out of the two lead females, I much preferred Kitty, she was fairly realistic to me, and she sprung to life in my minds eye, all her reactions where ones that I feel any person would have, and I felt quite a connection to her. Fay however, I did not like at all, she doesn't really take her mothers feelings in to consideration, and it really annoyed me how she'd keep whining on about her mother and how angry she was with her and this and that, and delving in to everything and thinking badly of her mother, because to be honest, if you'd been Kitty, you wouldn't bloody well want to talk about it either would you? Especially to the child who caused your husbands death! It wasn't her fault, she was only a child, although it is a scene I'm fairly sure I've read or seen somewhere before, but still, she can't seem to grasp how her mother would feel about everything that had happened and what talking about it would have been like.
So yeah, I didn't like Fay at all, so I couldn't really connect with her, to be honest I skim read all of her parts, I would have skipped them entirely, but I was intrigued by the conflict going on at the time, as I wasn't aware of much of it.
I don't really have much to say about Fay and her parts of the story, but Kitty's parts? You could feel the tension and the uncertainty and the fear from the streets of occupied and pre-occupied Paris oozing off the page. I could picture all of those parts as if I was watching a movie in my head. I had not read from this view point before so like I said, I was fascinated. While there was a lot of danger about, creating the atmosphere I previously mentioned, it was also full of little moments that warm the heart, when you see certain certain characters/people willing to risk their lives to help others, Jews, English citizens, Americans, English soldiers brought to the hospital and needing to escape before the Germans get them and so on. It shows how not all of humanity where bad at that time period, and bravery wasn't just on the battlefield.
The plot was complex, there was a lot going on, I felt like it was kind of unnecessary at some points because in all fairness, she could have just asked her mother, at that point she was willing to tell her. And when it got to the big reveal, what I'm assuming is the big secret, I was kind of disappointed, I was a bit "oh is that it", don't get me wrong, it was serious, but I guess I was expecting something else, or something even huger, to harbour feelings like Kitty does. Although I did actually guess what had actually happened to her father, Fay's part in it was a surprise but I was a bit "hmmmm I have deja'd this vou".
I also kind of felt like the whole train and orphanage thing was unnecessary, like oh another bad thing that happened that strings the plot out and provides Kitty with a reason to dislike Natalie. I should also note I think character development was sacrificed for other things in the book. I would have quite liked to see more of Serge as well, as his was an interesting story.
So, this is a bit mixed for me, it was a nice surprise because there was more to it than I thought and had assumed, but Kitty was the character of the two that engaged me and kept me reading, Fay's sections for me where skim read to get to the next exciting thing that's going on in Kitty's life. So this book has its good and its bad basically, but I still think it's worth a read, because the history is fascinating.