By Edith Bachmann
Recently I read The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff and enjoyed it. In the book, Jenoff tells the story of three fictional women during the fighting and in the aftermath of World War II. The novel begins with Grace, a young war widow in 1946 on her way to work. On that particular morning she ends up having to go through Grand Central Station because she is running late. There, she finds an abandoned suitcase with an envelope with photos of many young women. The photos pique Grace’s curiosity and, on impulse, she takes the packet with her. On her journey to find the women in the pictures, she finds out about Eleanor Trigg, the owner of the suitcase who was in charge of the women, who were all Special Operations Executive female agents of WWII. Jenoff focuses on one of the agents, in particular, Marie who is deployed on a dangerous mission where she will work to sabotage German plans in Occupied France.
This is a very interesting and powerful novel. It is easy to be drawn into the lives and struggles of the characters. Eleanor Trigg is especially intriguing and her unapologetic strength and dedication are nothing short of inspiring. It is amazing how despite the sexism and doubt that Eleanor is up against, she works so hard to make sure her girls are ready and runs the whole unit. Jenoff creates a marvelous and dynamic cast of characters. Josie, a young recruit who befriends Marie, shows fearlessness despite her very dangerous missions.
Jenoff’s writing style is a bit stiff and takes some getting used to, especially if you are like me and enjoy a more lyrical and poetic style. However, after the initial chapters, the plot becomes engrossing and it is easy to look past the phrasing. The romance could have been developed more, but it didn’t seem completely out-of-place.
The Lost Girls of Paris may not be as well done as Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (a personal favorite), but it was more enjoyable than Sarah’s Key which also examines World War II over two different time periods. Overall, The Lost Girls of Paris is a great choice for lovers of historical fiction set in World War II and those looking for something empowering to read.
If you enjoy The Lost Girls of Paris, you may also like:
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys