Sunday, March 26, 2023

Book Review: The Paris Orphan

The Paris Orphan 
by Natasha Lester
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s good, but not as good as Paris Seamstress. I found the marketing on the cover to be a bit misleading as the story is not really about the orphan (she’s obviously in it), but the focus is on a photojournalist/model who goes into the war zone. Based on a real person. Natasha Lester really brings to life the fear, love, and casualness that war brings in so many different ways.

There’s a fair bit of romance in this one. Luckily our two main men for our leading ladies (one in 1940s and one in 2000s) are very chivalrous, kind gentlemen. There’s some mildly racy scenes but nothing erotic or over the top. Certainly less explicit than your average Nora Roberts novel. I actually liked the romantic build-up in both timelines. It felt genuine, realistic, and the intimacy of each relationship is defined early on (not in the bedroom).

There’s perhaps too much going on in the end. It felt rushed, anticlimactic (even though we learn all the twists and shockers of the connections between everyone). I was happy to be done with it, sadly. I don’t think I’d read it again; but I’m happy to have read it this time. For sure Paris Seamstress is a more engaging novel; but it’s also safer. The war area danger is a lot higher in The Paris Orphan, and Lester touches (very poignantly) on what war can do to a person. Especially when one sees the indignities of the concentration camps. Lester doesn’t try to sugar coat it or gloss over it like some historical fiction. I commend her for that, 100%. Although it does make it a heavier book. But then again, it’s a historical WWII story it should feel harsh, unfair, unjust, and (at times) downright evil. There is hope (of course) and Lester’s incorporation of singing hymns and other true stories from the front are most endearing.

There was a distinct moment at the end I really disliked. And for that reason this is only four stars for me. I vehemently detest cop-out endings. Just randomly doing certain things makes the ending ‘too easy’ or just doesn’t do justice to the story and the characters. I’m very disappointed that Lester took, what I see, as an easy out of the complex emotions and set-up she spent almost 400 pages setting up and commuting to.
Overall it’s good; but I know Lester can do better. With some of these heavy hitter authors I just have higher expectations of what they will deliver. That all said, I’ll still crave and be sure to read everything Natasha Lester publishes. I’m not turned off, just a little disappointed.

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1 comment:

Leonore Winterer said...

What is it with war time novels and Paris...and from Natasha Lester again, no less! They DO know there are other cities in Europa that were hit by the war...even in France, yes? I feel like there have been so many of these lately!