~READ E-PUB ☣ The Parisians ♨ Paris, The Nazis Have Occupied The City And The Ritz The Opulent Old Hotel, So Loved By Parisians, Is Now Full Of Swaggering Officers, Their Minions And Their MistressesFor American Olivia Olsen, Working As A Chambermaid At The Hotel Means Denying Her Nationality And Living A Lie, Every Day Bringing The Danger Of Discovery Closer When Hitler S Right Hand Man Moves In And Makes Her His Pet, She Sees An Opportunity To Help The Resistance And Draw Closer To Jack, Her Contact, Whose Brusque Instructions May Be A Shield For Something Within The Hotel, Famed Designer Coco Chanel Quickly Learns That The New Regime Could Work To Her Benefit, While Arletty, One Of France S Best Loved Actresses, Shocks Those Around Her And Herself With A Forbidden LoveBut As The War Reaches Its Terrible End, All Three Women Learn The True Price Of Their Proximity To The Enemy For In The Shadow Of War, Is Anyone Truly Safe
Got this from NetGalley, which is sometimes as much a crapshoot as First Reads But I was surprised this time and delighted a good, gritty, urbane, accurate, practical, frightening, realistic, and generally pitch perfect novel of a little slice of Paris during the war And no smarmy, over the top, twee, treacly Romance anywhere.Review to follow.Oh, if anyone read that horrible gossipy, inaccurate, and poorly written National Enquirer version of the Ritz Hotel during the war by an alleged historian, Tilar Mazzeo, read The Parisians instead Even though it is historical fiction, it is far better and definitely accurate. 3 5 stars Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for an e ARC in exchange for an honest review Readers choose books for all sorts of reasons and I am no exception I chose this book specifically for its title because Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world I may have mentioned this in other reviews, but I cried the very first time I saw that city and if the Eiffel Tower had been a person, well it most likely asked me to stop taking pictures of it The fact that it was also surrounding the WWII era was a plus Juggling characters can be difficult, in the case ofThe Parisians, we have three very interesting characters a chambermaid, a French actress, and Coco Chanel and one intriguing setting the Ritz hotel Since this was the main place of entertainment and rest for the main players in the Nazi regime, our plot is driven by plenty of wartime intrigue While young Swedish American Olivia is driven to spy on Herman Goering after her lover dies at the hands of the Gestapo, French actress Arletty balances a fine line between the France she knew and what it has become, and Marius Gabriel leaves little doubt about designer Coco Chanel s collaboration with the Nazis I enjoyed this story, reading it in one sitting, and despite one foolish sex scene in which both genders sexual organs were described as particular flowers, I felt this was a good addition to the WWII era library. It is 1940 and Paris the Ritz have been occupied by the Nazis Most of the story revolves in the Ritz where we find 3 women, both fictional and real, who use this invasion for either their benefit or to extract revenge Olivia Olsen, is an aspiring artist turned chambermaid at the Ritz who becomes a favourite of Adolf Hitler s right hand man and uses this as an opportunity to help the Resistance and in the process avenge the death of her fiancee.Coco Chanel is a world famous designer who sees at the onset that this regime can work to her benefit and doesn t waste time and effort to use them to get what she wants.Arletty, France s darling and best loved actresses of the time, shocks herself and the sentiments of all French people when she decides to get into an ill fated affair with a German Luftwaffe officer Hans Jurgen Soehring.What I really liked about this book was how the author managed to bring together both fictional and real characters into the story, at times intersecting their story lines to give a perspective outlook on this grim period of history and what people were willing to do to survive it.Also, at the end of the book, the author gives us a short update on all the real people in the book, telling us what happened to them and where their lives led them after the war was over which was interesting and made me Google to know about them The only drawback for me was that I did not emotionally connect with anyone in the book but overall the book was gripping.My thanks to Netgalley, the author and publishers for giving me an ARC. I will say this about this book, thank God for Coco Chanel and Arletty Those two women made the book worthwhile reading I found the beginning of the book very hard to get into thanks to Olivia Olsen, this young artist who has come to Paris to paint She s just the kind of character I have a problem with, a young naive thing that on the very first pages of the book meets a young anarchist that will take her by storm I was not amused, I found Olivia to be boring to be very frank However, I kept on reading because as I wrote before there were two bright spots in this book Coco Chanel and the French actress Arletty Personally, I wouldn t have minded that Olivia had been cut out of the picture and the book had been just about Coco Chanel and Arletty Although I have to admit Olivia role become interesting after the Germans occupied France and she started to help the Resistance.At first, I gave the book 4 stars, but after some considerations did I lover the rating to 3 stars And, that s because I ve read two books previously by Marius Gabriel that I really enjoyed, The Ocean Liner and The Designer The Parisians can t really measure up to them It s just not as interesting, unfortunately Still, there are some really good parts in the book, well everything concerning Coco Chanel and Arletty I felt that Olivia personality was truly bland and I felt it the most when she interacted with them She grew a bit better towards the end, but still, the stars of this book were Coco Chanel and Arletty I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review The Parisians was a solid account of how WW2 impacted Paris and the role of The Ritz hotel The story focuses on the lives of 3 women whose paths intersect throughout the war at The Ritz The author includes historical characters including a famous French actress named Arletty and the infamous Coco Channel At the heart of the story is a young American artist named Olivia Olsen who clings to her Swiss roots and pretends to be from Switzerland Olivia gets a job as a chambermaid at The Ritz and is privy to many of the Nazi s secret plans as she cleans rooms Her role in the resistance is highlighted Arletty falls for an SS officer and her budding romance is scorned by French Patriots Coco is mostly depicted during the first part of the story as she immerses herself with the Nazis I enjoyed Arletty s story and Olivia s story picked up during the second half of the book I wasn t very interested in Coco s role and found myself quite detached when the plot focused on her In all, the story was interesting although there was nothing about the war that I didn t already know So if you tend to read a lot of books with a ww2 backdrop, you may find the historical bits redundant Where I struggled most with this book, was with it s one dimensional plot and limited opportunity for emotional connection I enjoyed the love stories and felt these were the instances during which I most strongly connected emotionally I think if the story had gone a little deeper with its characters, it would have made it that much heartfelt.In all, a book that I d recommend to readers who are interested in a ww2 story that is superficial in nature and without the raw descriptive atrocities that happened to many people during this time Some significant occurrences are mentioned but in a lighter way As others have mentioned, the first half is slow but picks up at about the 60% mark.Thank you to publisher and NG for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I very much enjoyed this trip to WW2 where real and fictional characters do a cross over in a plush hotel in Paris From Coco Chanel to famed French actress Arletty, not to mention a bunch of other well drawn fictional characters, all are faced with the invasion of the Nazis and all yearn to survive the best possible way This of course is far from being simple, especially for the central heroine who longs to save her boyfriend who is at the hands of the Gestapo One thing s for sure, though, simple or not, their many problems do make for a fine read The narrative, as the plot and subplots, is solid, and I found myself totally invested in the denouement of these complicated but oh so fascinating people Marius Gabriel has a knack for re imagining true moments in time, and I look forward to read of his stuff in the future Thumbs up to NetGalley and the publisher for this reviewed title.Full review If you re looking for an effortless read that juxtaposes the lifestyles of rich Nazi sympathizers and struggling Resistance workers in Paris during World War II, you ll enjoy this It really made my commute zip along If, however, you like your books with some depth and writing that rises above the workmanlike, this will disappoint The characters never blossomed into three dimensional Their motivations seemed pat and superficial For instance, did Arletty, one of the biggest French film stars of the time, really plunge so deeply in love with a Nazi officer that she didn t give than a passing thought to how she was betraying her audience and her country And there s a lovemaking scene that I think qualifies for the Bad Sex Writing Award All that said, as escapism that introduces you to the role of the Paris Ritz and the sumptuousness of the hotel itself and the attitudes of French society types during the war, this will please. EXCERPT the eve of war had come as a shock It was here suddenly, the thing they had all dreaded but not wished to look at, like the monster that lurked under the beds of children Now, with terrifying purpose, it had clambered out and proved itself real after all ABOUT THIS BOOK Paris, 1940 The Nazis have occupied the city and the Ritz The opulent old hotel, so loved by Parisians, is now full of swaggering officers, their minions and their mistresses.For American Olivia Olsen, working as a chambermaid at the hotel means denying her nationality and living a lie, every day bringing the danger of discovery closer When Hitler s right hand man moves in and makes her his pet, she sees an opportunity to help the Resistance and draw closer to Jack, her contact, whose brusque instructions may be a shield for something Within the hotel, famed designer Coco Chanel quickly learns that the new regime could work to her benefit, while Arletty, one of France s best loved actresses, shocks those around her and herself with a forbidden love.But as the war reaches its terrible end, all three women learn the true price of their proximity to the enemy For in the shadow of war, is anyone truly safe MY THOUGHTS What began as a fairly average read about a young American woman in Paris to make her name as an artist, slowly morphed into a gritty novel of surviving the war, and the German occupation of Paris, by whatever means possible I particularly liked how the author contrasted the lives of these three women, whose lives intersect at times, to give different perspectives I also liked how he contrasted the grim reality, the melancholy of everyday life under the occupation, with rare moments of unadulterated joy, the spark that lit the desire to survive, no matter what The book is peppered with real people I learned a lot about Coco Chanel I had never known her background, nor that she was a Nazi sympathizer I had, in the past, simply admired her style And I had never heard of Arletty, the French film star At the end of the book, the Author s Note provides a lot of information about the people in the book who were real and what happened to them after the war, as well as further information about the history of the Ritz Hotel in Paris It, like the book itself, is well worth reading Although one of the categories I have assigned The Parisians is romance, don t let that put you off There is no schmaltzy romance, of an awakening, and nothing that is inappropriate to the story If anything, the love story enhances the overall realism This is not a book to be rushed through It is a book to be lingered over, one that may challenge your previous perceptions about the people on both sides of the war I would like to read by this author THE AUTHOR Marius Gabriel is an international thriller and mystery writer.Under the pseudonym Madeleine Ker, he wrote over 30 romance novels in the 1980s.As Marius Gabriel he has written several mystery best sellers, some of them historical novels.He has three grown up children and currently lives in Cairo and London.DISCLOSURE Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Parisians by Marius Gabriel for review All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system This review and others are also published on my sandysbookaday.wordpress.com page I have read a lot of WWII novels and one of the things I liked about this one is the mix of fictional characters and historical persons The Parisians has three POV characters Olivia Olsen is a young painter from the Midwest who moves to Paris in around 1939 to paint Olivia is the main character and we follow her through the war as she begins to work at the Ritz and then becomes a spy for the Resistance against Goering The other two characters are Coco Chanel and Arletty Now I had heard of Chanel before but did not know anything about her past Makes me happy I don t own anything Chanel But I had never heard of Arletty The nice contrast of the two historical characters is that they are women who were collaborators during the war and were actually tried after the war for their relationships with German Officers All of the Germans were real people, including Heike who is based on a real woman named Violetle Morris This is a novel that you would devour in a weekend If you want a war novel that is a little different definitely give this one a try and read the Author s Note at the end for a little history it is super short.