Today I’m pleased to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for The Postmistress of Paris: A Novel an interesting and different historical fiction story set during WWII. The book comes out in hardback in the UK on the 20th January 2022. You can find out more about the book and my thoughts of it below but first I just want to thank Random Things Tours and the Harper360 for the chance to be a part of this tour and for an early copy of the book. Now let’s find out why I have enjoyed reading this story…
Title: The Postmistress of Paris: A Novel
Author: Meg Waite Clayton
Genre: Historical fiction
Book format: Pre-publication proof of hardback
Description: Wealthy, beautiful Naneé was born with a spirit of adventure. For her, learning to fly is freedom. When German tanks roll across the border and into Paris, this woman with an adorable dog and a generous heart joins the resistance. Known as the Postmistress because she delivers information to those in hiding, Naneé uses her charms and skill to house the hunted and deliver them to safety.
Photographer Edouard Moss has escaped Germany with his young daughter only to be interned in a French labor camp. His life collides with Nanée’s in this sweeping tale of romance and danger set in a world aflame with personal and political passion.
Inspired by the real life Chicago heiress Mary Jayne Gold, who worked with American journalist Varian Fry to smuggle artists and intellectuals out of France, The Postmistress of Paris is the haunting story of an indomitable woman whose strength, bravery, and love is a beacon of hope in a time of terror.
*Free copy provided by publisher for review…
Review: This is a lovely and interesting story and one I really enjoyed once I got into it. It’s January 1938 and American Nanée lives in Paris with her dog Dagobert and is flying on her way to an art exhibition she’s been invited to. While there she meets photographer Edouard who sees the ghost of his dead wife in Nanée. Later when the war starts Nanée has the option to leave France to go back to America, but she decides to stay on, getting involved with an underground effort to get various artists, now in danger from the Nazis, out of France. Nanée becomes the postmistress, giving messages to those who need them, but doing so is dangerous work and when Edouard is captured and taken to an internment camp, Nanée is determined to help free him, whatever it takes.
I was surprised with how much I have enjoyed this story, especially as I found it a little hard to get into at first. In the first chapter we meet Nanée and her dog Dagobert and we see a little into what she is like as a character. While I enjoyed getting to know her and Dagobert who appears throughout the story, the beginning of the book for me was a bit slow and hard to get into. I enjoyed reading about all the characters and the interesting art game they played, but I have to admit that the beginning, with all the artists together at the exhibition and later at Nanée’s flat was a little hard to get into and I wasn’t sure if I’d really enjoy the book. But once the war begins, the story becomes much more interesting and I like how this book ends up being told through three different points of view, Nanée, Edouard and his daughter Luki, though all in the third person perspecitve.
The writing is in a slightly different style than I’m used to with a lot of books. At first it made it harder to get into, more detail and lengthy prose made me feel more disconnected with the story but as soon as I got used to it after the first few chapters, the more detailed writing felt lovely and beautiful, the descriptions really drawing me in and I really started to feel quite an emotional attachment especially when reading Edouard and Luki’s chapters.
The book is quite long with a lot happening to different characters. I did enjoy reading about how Nanée used her position as the ‘postmistress’ to deliver messages to those who needed them. If I’m honest I wish there had been more about this work she did, but the story was more focused on her individual tale and that of Edouard’s. There is a lovely romance that develops throughout the story and I love how this develops slowly and in a lovely way for both characters. I also love how we get a real insight into what it was like in France during the war, and how the terror and fear of the Nazis and the French authorities is felt, especially towards the later part of the novel when there are several encounters with these people during some escapes.
Although I wasn’t sure if I was going to get into the story at first, the writing style being a bit of an early barrier for me (purely because I wasn’t used to it and felt a little detached from it emotionally), the more I read on, the more I got into this story and I love how the the story gets more and more exciting and how gripping it is towards the end especially with what is happening to all three characters during a special journey. The ending is a good one and one that felt moving. I like how the story finishes with the last chapter, with that last scene feeling like the perfect ending in a movie!
The author’s notes at the back of the book explain where some of the art pieces mentioned in the story get their inspiration from. There’s also a little about the real people mentioned in the story and how the fictional Nanée is based on the real life heiress Mary Jayne Gold. I love how this story is inspired by real people and even though a lot of the tale is fictional, it still makes it more interesting to me to read.
Overall I have enjoyed reading this. At first I wasn’t sure if I’d get into it, the writing style and great amount of characters mentioned made me worry I wouldn’t get into this so much, but as the story unfolded and I had time to get to know the everyone, I really started to enjoy it. The way Luki’s chapters are written from a child’s point of view just made her story more touching, and I love how what happens and how so much of her feelings are described through her toy. It’s a slower read than some books I’ve read, and I’ll be honest, it was harder for me to get into than others as I felt a little emotionall detached from Nanée’s character at first, but there are so many wonderful things revealed in the story and so many moments where you fear certain characters will be caught by their actions. It’s certainly a story that is more interesting the further you read on and one which, despite some of my criticisms, will stay with me for some time.
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About the Author
Meg Waite Clayton is a New York Times bestselling author of six novels, most recently Beautiful Exiles. Her previous novels include the Langum Prize–honored The Race for Paris; The Language of Light, a finalist for theBellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction(now the PEN/Bellwether); and The Wednesday Sisters, one of Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Essential Best Friend Novels of all time. She has also written for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes, and public radio, often on the subject of the particular challenges women face.
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Well, I hope you have enjoyed my stop on the blog tour for this interesting historical fiction novel. I am just one stop of many on this blog tour and you can follow all the other stops by looking at the banner below. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading and if you like this book do pick it up as the hardback version is out on the 20th January 2022!
What do you think of this book? Do you like historical fiction set during WWII or based on real people or events? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂