Kristin Harmel comes to the blog today with a new story set in Paris just before and during the Nazi occupation. Please read on for my review of
The Room on Rue Amélie
Encouraged by the synopsis of the book, I was hoping to find a story that brought the different sensibilities of an American, a French Jew and a British RAF pilot into play during the rise of the Nazi’s and the tumult in Paris during the era. Ruby is an American, newly married to Marcel, and now living in 1939 Paris. Full of the ‘romantic’ imagery that the city is known for, instead she finds it far different: closed, cautious and even riddled with an omnipresent fear as the Germans and Hitler are approaching. Not exactly what she was hoping for, she’s managed to befriend neighbors, the Dachers and their teenage daughter Charlotte. The Dachers are Jews, and the new restrictions have Charlotte thinking that things cannot get worse. And then – they do. Navigating this landscape near alone, with only Charlotte as a constant, Ruby is finding her life far different from what she expected, or hoped for. When Thomas, an RAF pilot is added to the mix, and they start trying to oppose the Reich by participating in the Resistance, the twists and turns in the plot, in fact almost anything of substance to do with the war or any effort to oppose the Nazis falls to the wayside in favor of romance, a rather pat and obvious connection and path.
Far from my expectations, this felt like a story that was blindfolded by a need to make and build romantic connections that contrasted with the terrible events in the city, and a rather tortured attempt to show the work of the Resistance by joining in. The characters were flat, made worse by their inability to avoid a cliché – the overuse of clichés simply made the read more tortured, as if a lack of actual depth or personality for the characters didn’t make the story drag. I had no interest in any of them after the first pages, although I hoped for something more, without a clichéd explanation or justification just to show there was some hope that the story wouldn’t be another one that was wonderful in premise but missed in execution by miles. Unfortunately, for me, it wasn’t. Having no expectations for this author, although many have told me they enjoyed her work, I had nothing to compare it to, and honestly don’t think that I will be looking for another of her titles.
Title: The Room on Rue Amélie
Author: Kristin Harmel
Genre: Historic Woman's Fiction, Romantic Elements, Setting: France, World War II
Published by: Gallery Books
Published on: 27 March, 2018
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 12 Hours (est)
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible
For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls, this powerful novel of fate, resistance, and family—by the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and When We Meet Again—tells the tale of an American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in occupied Paris during the tumultuous days of World War II.
When newlywed Ruby Henderson Benoit arrives in Paris in 1939 with her French husband Marcel, she imagines strolling arm in arm along the grand boulevards, awash in the golden afternoon light. But war is looming on the horizon, and as France falls to the Nazis, her marriage begins to splinter, too.
Charlotte Dacher is eleven when the Germans roll into the French capital, their sinister swastika flags snapping in the breeze. After the Jewish restrictions take effect and Jews are ordered to wear the yellow star, Charlotte can’t imagine things getting much worse. But then the mass deportations begin, and her life is ripped forever apart.
Thomas Clarke joins the British Royal Air Force to protect his country, but when his beloved mother dies in a German bombing during the waning days of the Blitz, he wonders if he’s really making a difference. Then he finds himself in Paris, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and he discovers a new reason to keep fighting—and an unexpected road home.
When fate brings them together, Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas must summon the courage to defy the Nazis—and to open their own broken hearts—as they fight to survive. Rich with historical drama and emotional depth, this is an unforgettable story that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: