Book Review: An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham

A very Happy Publication Day to author Siobhan Curham for the release of An American In Paris today, 04.01.2021

About the Book:

An American in Paris

Walking through Montmartre that morning was like the eerie calm right before a storm. The roads were deserted. We carried on, arm in arm, and then finally, we saw them. Columns and columns of soldiers, spreading through the streets like a toxic grey vapour. ‘You must write about this,’ he whispered to me. ‘You must write about the day freedom left Paris.’

1937: Florence has dreamed her whole life of coming to Paris. She arrives on a sweltering summer day and, lost on the steep streets of Montmartre, asks for directions from Otto, a young artist with paint-spattered clothes and the most beautiful smile she has ever seen.

Otto becomes her guide to Paris, taking her to visit paintings in the Louvre and bookshops by the Seine. And when Otto returns home to finish his studies, they vow to reunite on the same spot they met, one year to the day.

Still dreaming of their parting kiss, Florence starts writing for an American newspaper and throws herself into becoming truly Parisian. All too soon, heady days of parties and champagne are replaced by rumours of war. When Otto finally returns to her, it is as an exile, fleeing Nazi persecution.

Soon, not even Paris is safe. Florence’s articles now document life under occupation and hide coded messages from the Resistance. But with the man she loves in terrible danger, her words feel hollow and powerless. If Florence risks everything by accepting a dangerous mission, can she rescue their dreams from that sunny day before the war?

A sweeping wartime story that will capture your heart and never let it go. Fans of The Alice NetworkThe Lost Girls of Paris and My Name is Eva will be absolutely gripped from the very first page.

My Thoughts:

Note: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

An American in Paris is a sweeping tale of love and loss, the impacts of WWII on people and the resilience of some to take a stand. The book is written from two perspectives, following dual timelines, on set in the time from 1937 – 1945 and the other in the present day which in the book is the year 2018.

In the present day part we are introduced to Sage who is on an emotional spiral and messes up her public persona while trying to deal with the grief of her mother’s passing. As she tries to deal with the aftermath of her scandalous viral videos, she receives an email that may just change her life and give her the answers that her mother may have once searched for.

As the story progresses, the reader is also introduced to Florence, an American dancer who comes to Paris in 1937. The author treats us to two different stories, one of Florence who finds love and laughter, a purpose in life until the war begins and starts to affect France, and that of Sage who embarks on a journey of discovery.

Though Sage is featured in the book, I feel that her character and that of Sam were just to provide perspective and a connection to the past. The main focus is on Florence and her story. It is one of strength, bravery and the will to fight back as well as of enduing love and faith. It is both heart warming and heart-breaking to read, but will draw the reader in completely until the very end. The author does a wonderful job in painting a picture of war torn France, the impact it had on the people and how they were treated. A lot of research has definitely gone into the historical facts as many of them could be verified as well.

The plot flows well starting from the beginning and going on until the end of the war and the aftermath. The characters are relatable and their experiences harrowing to say the least. Since I have visited Paris many times, it was wonderful for me to read about Florence’s emotions while discovering Montmartre and Musée du Louvre as well as my personal favourite, the bookstore Shakespeare and Company.

Be prepared for an emotional roller-coaster and a story that will cause the reader to pause and think. This book is well worth the read and I highly recommend it!

Book Review: Running Home by Lizzie Steel

About the Book:

Running Home by Lizzie Steel

After a last minute decision to accompany her parents as they emigrate, Lady Clara Reynolds arrives in India. So intent on running from her past, she is barely aware of where she is running to. Beautiful and compassionate Lady Clara quickly attracts the attention of Sachin Borah, a local plantation owner, and after he kills a deadly snake to save her life, he has her attention too.

Set in the beautiful hills of Kerala, their mutual fascination quickly blossoms into much more. Surely it’s impossible for two people from such different worlds to have a relationship, but how can they stay apart when feel so strongly connected?

My Thoughts:

A riveting story, it explores emotions to a great depth and how strong the bond of love can be between two people. Love is the major emotion that is described or addressed. The story follows Lady Clara, who accompanies her parents back to India, where her father was from. Her mother spends her time being rather unhappy with the situation and the country at large but Clara and her father share the same love for the place. For Clara, it is love at first sight and the tea plantations and beauty of the place only add to her feelings. Bring in the handsome Sachin Borah into the picture and the author has a wonderful recipe for gossip, love, disaster and family, all thrown into one.

The author has brought out the various emotions of each character and has given such depth to each of them that it is difficult not to fall in love with them. The vivid descriptions of the place and the emotions portrayed will draw the reader right into the story. The author goes on to show that love has no boundaries, portraying the same in a very non cliched manner. The language is crisp and beautiful, as beautiful as the words used to describe the place and emotions. The author also brings into picture, the concept of society and how it thinks. This is portrayed really well and is quite easy to relate to.

I know that I probably sound like a broken tape recorder on repeat, continuously talking about the emotions, but the story will draw you in and once inside, there is no going back. It becomes very difficult to put the book down and one can only stop at the end when there is no more to read. It is difficult to talk about this story without revealing it all and thus I will end my review with these last few lines to summarize. The story will bring tears of happiness and sadness to your eyes but the journey is worth it all. For all the lovers of romance or a good love story, this is the book to pick up.