How about a nice piece of historical fiction while you hide away inside? Right, here you go.
An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham
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?
Every time I pick up a WWII-based book I have a niggling feeling that this is the one that will be the last, that will show me there is nothing else that can be done with this genre. Yet, I always manage to find something new in each one.
An American in Paris is a beautiful love story. Not entirely unique, but I couldn’t help but be endeared to it. The main aspect that stood out to be was the dual storyline. On one side we have Florence. Florence is a determined character. I found her, Otto, and all the others who were part of the resistance to be such an inspiration. Although there were times when I found her dialogue to be a bit forced and unrealistic, for me, she was a charming representation of the ordinary people who fought for freedom. Plus, I am a sucker for a good love story and found that Florence and Otto’s relationship was a wonderful reminder of how love is one of the most precious things in life.
Telling the story in parallel to Florence is Sage, a social media influencer who is currently going through a difficult time. Sage’s chapters/POV account for roughly one-third of the book, highlighting her as an important character. I felt that the main idea for Sage was for the reader to follow her journey as she grows and learns more about herself. However, there wasn’t enough detail or depth to Sage for this to happen. It also felt that she was to be on the same level as Florence, albeit in a more modern way. Unfortunately, this fell flat for me also, so much so that I believe the book could have done without Sage.
Ultimately, I enjoyed connecting with Florence and following her journey as I cuddled up inside on the chair. If you would like to uncover her life too, An American in Paris is available to buy now.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.