The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester

The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester

Natasha Lester comes to the blog with a story that weaves through generations, taking on female photojournalists, women in non-traditional jobs and what family ultimately means in

The Paris Orphan

Intensely personal and extrapolated from the real-life women and men who served as photojournalists during World War II, Lester has given us Jessica May, a well-regarded model in 1940’s New York, one who takes photos and writes articles in hopes of something more. When her ex decided to scuttle her modeling career in hopes of ‘putting her in her place’ she is determined to go to Europe and write of the events of the war. With help from her editor and friend at Vogue, she obtains the credentials and is soon on her way to Italy, expecting to be embedded with the nursing corp. But, the hospital is on disputed territory, and the CO of the outfit, one Dan Hallworth not only keeps her safe, but the two are entangled in an attraction that neither will admit. A solid friendship forms, and the two are inexorably linked, when Jess photographs Dan with four year old Victorine, an orphan that Dan has “inherited’ from his brother and his wife, both killed by Germans.

2008 in a chateau in France, D’Arcy has been hired to package and ship photographs for an exhibit in Sydney. Not knowing the photographer, she is met by the agent, who is also unwilling to share details about his very private client. But, D’Arcy spots a photograph that is attributed to Jessica May, lost to history and her more renown male counterparts, and D’Arcy is determined to get to the bottom of the story. Well versed in Jessica May’s work, known and attributed, she did a thesis on “the Photographer” and her hard work, and some personal connections have brought her to see the archives: thousands of photographs, some known, others not- all by Jessica May.

Two stories, intertwined as Lester takes us through the stories of Jessica on the front lines (or desperately trying to get there) with the other female reporters: Margaret Gellhorn, Lee Miller and others – all fighting the inherent sexism, harassment and dangers, yet doing the job, as well, or better than the men. Their eye and perspective is different – the first shots of concentration camps, the bravado of young soldiers not yet battle tested, and the haunted look of those after surviving and seeing things unimaginable. D’Arcy’s growth and revelations, as she finds her own footing – always tentative about putting herself out there – with all she learned, despite her fears, she’s moved forward and onward, hoping to find a new path that will guide her. Utterly gripping and with a full set of notes and information about these women who have been lost to history but provided images that brought the war home to thousands, not as a glorified series of battles from which the allies stood heroes – but as a true human tragedy, one that sent shockwaves throughout the world for years to come.

The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester

Title: The Paris Orphan
Author: Natasha Lester
Genre: Dual Timeline, Family Saga, Friendship, Historic Elements, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction /Historical Setting, Political commentary, Romantic Elements, Sociological Relevancy, World War II
Published by: Forever
ISBN: 153876489X
Published on: 3 September, 2019
Source: Publisher, Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 480
Audio Length: 13 Hours: 51 minutes
Rated: five-stars
Heat: One FlameHalf a Flame

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From the USA Today bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress comes “an emotional and sweeping tale” (Chanel Cleeton) that spans continents and crosses generations as an American soldier and an enterprising photographer brave occupied France in the midst of World War II to help give a little girl the one thing she’s never had: a family.

New York City/Paris, 1942: When American model Jessica May arrives in Europe to cover the war as a photojournalist for Vogue, most of the soldiers are determined to make her life as difficult as possible. But three friendships change that. Journalist Martha Gellhorn encourages Jess to bend the rules. Captain Dan Hallworth keeps her safe in dangerous places so she can capture the stories that truly matter. And most important of all, the love of a little orphan named Victorine gives Jess strength to do the impossible. But her success will come at a price…

France, 2005: Fifty years after World War II, D’Arcy Hallworth arrives at a beautiful chateau to curate a collection of famous wartime photos by a reclusive artist. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, but D’Arcy has no idea that this job will uncover decades of secrets that, once revealed, will change everything she thought she knew about her mother, Victorine, and alter D’Arcy’s life forever.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher, Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About Natasha Lester

Natasha Lester worked as a marketing executive for cosmetic company L’Oréal, managing the Maybelline brand, before returning to university to study creative writing. She completed a Master of Creative Arts as well as her first novel, What Is Left Over, After, which won the T.A.G. Hungerford Award for Fiction. Her second novel, If I Should Lose You, was published in 2012, followed by A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald in 2016 and Her Mother’s Secret in 2017. The Age described Natasha as “a remarkable Australian talent” and her work has been published in numerous anthologies and journals. In her spare time Natasha loves to teach writing, is a sought after public speaker and can often be found playing dress-up with her three children. She lives in Perth.

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