The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff
Switching chapters between two protagonists, this wartime novel about spies and secrets was an interesting and lovely one to listen to on audiobook.
The book centers around a woman called Grace Healey who works as the secretary for an immigration lawyer, in New York in 1946. One day, she discovers an abandoned suitcase containing a dozen photographs and embarks on a personal mission to find both the owner of the suitcase and the names and fates of each of the women in the photographs.
Grace soon discovers the suitcase belonged to the leader of a ring of female secret agents, and that the fates of the individual women, apparently spies, are unknown. One of those women, a young mother-turned-spy named Marie, is the second protagonist and narrator in this story, as we follow her harrowing training to become a spy and her first undercover mission in Paris.
Overall, I thought this was a lovely story, with great characters, and a romantic and sometimes pulse-quickening style. The insight into the harsh military-style training of the agents, the intelligence departments making life-changing decisions from the comfort of a desk and the realities of being a woman in the man’s world of 1940’s wartime bureaucracy was eye-opening. The narration was fantastic, and the two protagonists’ voices, both English and American, easy to listen to. I enjoyed this story immensely, it was neither too dark and gloomy, nor too light and superficial.
I felt there was a little lack of realism in the swiftness with which the main’s 1940’s character fell in love under the weight of war-time occupied Paris, I would have liked to fully believe this aspect of the story, but as they say, in the urgency of war perhaps love blooms faster and emotions run higher, so who am I to judge? During a small part of the narration toward the end of the audiobook, the character voice of the second narrator, was read by the first. After listening to the interchange of voices throughout the rest of the novel, it would have been nice to let the second narrator share this chapter read using the character voice we were already familiar with.
I’d recommend this book, if you like wartime historical novels, and spy novels. It was entertaining with wonderful attention to detail and colourful characters. A testament to the many brave and harrowing jobs women were faced with during WW2.
You can pick up a copy of The Lost Girls of Paris on Amazon here.
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