By Rachel Hore
Published by Simon & Schuster
Available in Paperback and ebook
Rachel Hore's latest book, A Week in Paris, is a compelling novel about freedom and family. I don't think that the cover does justice to this fantastic book which tells an intriguing story through a dual narrative.
A Week in Paris is set during two time periods in the life of a mother, Kitty and her daughter, Fay Knox. Both fall in love in Paris and both are musical but this is where the similarities end - Kitty must form a web of lies to protect her family while Fay must untangle these lies to find out the truth.
The first time period is set in 1930s Paris, where Kitty has gone to improve her piano skills. She falls in love with a man and with the city but this all comes crashing down around her - World War II has just begun, on the day that Fay is born. At first their life doesn't change but then the German army march into Paris. She finds herself stuck in paris during the occupation of Paris by the Nazis with her young daughter and a husband who seems to be hiding away secrets as well as British service men from the enemy.
While Fay's timeline, set in the 1960s, sees Fay in Paris performing the violin in a touring orchestra. Around her, there is unrest created by the tensions in Algeria. The only time she has 'supposedly' been in Paris was on a school trip but everything seems familiar and her memories of her childhood seem to match up with the landscape of Paris rather than London. The streets of Paris hide a past that is unknown to Fay. She must piece together the clues from her past.
The way we use secrets and lie to protect the ones we love runs through both time lines. Kitty must survive protect herself and her family from the Nazi occupation as well as try to discover the reason why her husband is secretive as soon as the war starts. While Fay must find out the truth to her childhood because the story told by her mother of living in London in Paris doesn't seem to match up with the clues she finds herself gathering during her week in Paris. Hore has created characters that are likable in one chapter but their actions makes the reader reconsider their alliance.
Hore's writing style sweeps up the reader into a journey through Paris. The realist details do no sugar coat the occupation of Paris - we don't have romantic scenes at the biggest tourist destinations in Paris but rather Hore explores the impact of rationing on the normal citizens and the treatment of foreign residents by the Nazis. There are people on the streets who are hungry, people lingering in the shadows, living in fear of the enemy. Even in the 1960s time frame, Hore doesn't shy away from the riots caused by the tensions of Algeria and France. Normally Paris is painted as a romantic, jazz-age city but Hore has done a lot of research to show a different side of Paris. The research, however, doesn't overshadow the plot.
This is a enjoyable read about what it takes to survive and the lies we must tell to protect the ones close to us. You can buy A Week in Paris from your favourite bookshop.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy.