The Postmistress of Paris: A Novel

by Meg Waite Clayton

Book, 2021



Call number




Harper (2021), 416 pages


AN INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER* A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' PICK* A GMA BUZZ PICK * AN INDIE NEXT PICK* AN AMAZON BEST OF THE MONTH PICK, LITERATURE AND FICTION*A PEOPLE MAGAZINE PICK The New York Times bestselling author of The Last Train to London revisits the dark early days of the German occupation in France in this haunting novel--a love story and a tale of high-stakes danger and incomparable courage--about a young American heiress who helps artists hunted by the Nazis escape from war-torn Europe. Wealthy, beautiful Naneé was born with a spirit of adventure. For her, learning to fly is freedom. When German tanks roll across the border and into Paris, this woman with an adorable dog and a generous heart joins the resistance. Known as the Postmistress because she delivers information to those in hiding, Naneé uses her charms and skill to house the hunted and deliver them to safety. Photographer Edouard Moss has escaped Germany with his young daughter only to be interned in a French labor camp. His life collides with Nanée's in this sweeping tale of romance and danger set in a world aflame with personal and political passion. Inspired by the real life Chicago heiress Mary Jayne Gold, who worked with American journalist Varian Fry to smuggle artists and intellectuals out of France, The Postmistress of Paris is the haunting story of an indomitable woman whose strength, bravery, and love is a beacon of hope in a time of terror.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member susan0316
Many historical fiction books are based on real people - usually women who have been forgotten over time. Many of these woman were brave beyond words and helped to defeat the Germans in many different ways. This new book by Meg Waite Clayton is based on Mary Jayne Gold, an American heiress whose
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bravery inspired Naneé, the main character in this book.

Naneé was an American heiress who loved Paris and had spent so much time there that she felt she was a Parisian. She's a social butterfly and very interested in the arts - painting, writing, etc. She meets Edouard at a party. He has escaped Germany and is trying to keep he and his daughter, Luki, safe in France even though the Vichy government is rounding up Jewish people and sending them to camps. She starts working with the Resistance to help artists and painters get out of the country. One part of the book that was filled with tension happened when Luki was sent to Paris with friends and her father was supposed to follow her the next day but the police took him to jail for a month. After he was released, he was unable to find his beloved daughter and he didn't know if she was safe. Naneé started working with the Resistance to send messages to people who were in hiding and to get the proper paperwork so they could get out Paris to safety in America.
Her bravery helped many people escape but it put her in danger. Will she be able to get out of France when the Gestapo is looking for her?

This is another fantastic book based on real people who put their lives at risk to help people escape from the danger in World War II. If you enjoy historical fiction from this time period or enjoy books about brave women who make a different in the lives of others or just want to read an exciting book- you don't want to miss this one. Once again this author gives her readers a well written and well researched story with characters that will be difficult to forget.

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review.
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LibraryThing member eyes.2c
Hope comes in different ways! A World War II novel.

Fascinating story inspired by American heiress Mary Jane Gold, Nanée is a wealthy young woman caught up in efforts to help artists and intellectuals to escape France during WWII. Nanée, whom many saw as an eccentric, is a pilot, a focused
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individual. She’s determined, a person who just rolls up her sleeves and gets on with the task.
There’s the heady energy of various artistic and intellectual giants such as André Breton, as the Nazis march towards Paris. I loved the description of Nanée flying into Paris for a Surrealist exhibition, adding further to the illustration that Nanée is an original who charts her own path. I smiled at the image of her next to her plane with her dog Dagobert as she, “dug out a reliable old black Chanel dress and pulled it over her head, slipped her blouse off underneath, and let the silk fall into place over her leather flight pants. Better. Not warmer, but better. She added her flight jacket again, for warmth. Could she just wear the leather pants and boots with the dress? It was a Surrealist exhibit, after all.“
This gives us an idea of the person who helps artists to escape the Nazi regime, of her doggedness, her commitment to the cause.
Nanée’s meeting at the exhibition with photographer Edouard Moss and his daughter Luki is just the beginning of a chain of events that sweep them and us along in the upheaval of these times.

A Harper ARC via NetGalley
Please note: Quotes taken from an advanced reading copy maybe subject to change
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LibraryThing member Twink
3.5 There are many, many WWII novels written from a woman's perspective and/or featuring a role in the war performed by women. Bombgirls, landgirls, codebreakers and more.

Meg Waite Clayton's new novel, The Postmistress of Paris is part of that more, bringing in another perspective. Her main
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character is Naneé, a wealthy American living in Paris who decides to join the French resistance. Her wealth and American passport allow her to move about freely, delivering messages to those in hiding. She's a great lead character - brave, daring and charming with a strong sense of right and wrong and duty.

She meets photographer Edouard and his young daughter Luki at a gathering of artistes. Edouard has escaped from Germany, but still must try to hide from the Vichy government. It is after this meeting that Naneé decides she must help artistes to escape and to preserve their work.

Now, here's the really neat part - Naneé is based on the life of Mary Jayne Gold, a Chicago heiress, who helped American journalist Varian Fry smuggle well-known artists and intellectuals out of France.

The book's opening chapters introduce us to the two main players, the sparks that fly between them, as well as the artistic setting/element of the book. I must admit, I did find this went on a bit too long for me. I wanted to dive right into the 'action' of the book. The hiding, the subterfuge and the danger. That does come, but Waite Clayton also stops along the way to explore other themes such as the love between a parent and child, the loss of loved ones and the sacrifices made. Different views are provided with Luki having her own chapters, as does Edouard. There are many supporting players, all just as determined with the same goal. I did find one character to be quite detestable as he plays 'games' at the house that the group shares. I thought there would be a reason he was included, but never found a meaning for his inclusion and ugliness. But he is tempered with the addition of a dog to the tale - named Dagobert.

A good addition to the WWII fiction list. Waite Clayton is a talented wordsmith and I did enjoy this novel. However, I did find it to be a bit of a slow burn for me and it felt a repetitive at times.

I chose to listen to The Postmistress of Paris. The readers were Imani Jade Powers and Graham Halstead. Powers has such a rich, melodious, honeyed tone to her voice. It's very pleasant to listen to and easy to understand. The voice for Naneé, absolutely captured the character as I had imagined her. Her speaking speed was just right. There are many French language bits to the story and I found both her pronunciation and accent to be believable. Her performance did justice to Waite Clayton's book. I've also listened to Graham Halstead in the past. He has a very resonant tone to his voice that draws the listener to him. He too speaks clearly and is easy to understand. I like his voice very much, but it wasn't quite what I imagined for Edouard. I had a softer, more continental voice in mind. That being said, he does do a fine job with his narration. Length is 13 hours, 10 minutes.
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LibraryThing member tapestry100
Meg Waite Clayton is my favorite writer of historical fiction. Her ability to create these fascinating stories inspired by real people, especially overlooked women in history, and infuse them with true heart and soul is second to none, IMO. Her latest novel, THE POSTMISTRESS OF PARIS, is no
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exception. Here we are introduced to Nanée, a wealthy and beautiful woman who lives in Paris when WWII breaks out. Using her wealth and status as a US citizen, she helps deliver messages to those in hiding, eventually helping the real-life Varian Fry in helping to smuggle artists in danger out of France. Inspired by the real life of Mary Jayne Gold, a Chicago heiress, Clayton again has shed light for me on people who lived through these terrifying times. Often, we know the broader strokes of the story, but it’s the fine details of these lesser known people who risked their lives for those around them that are to time, and through her in-depth research, Clayton helps to shine a light on them. I’ll be looking forward to her next novel. @harperbooks
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LibraryThing member wagner.sarah35
This book, inspired by a very real American heiress who aided the French Resistance during World War II, is yet another addition to the expansive genre of WWII-era historical fiction. I struggled to get into this story and I never really felt connected to the characters - who seemed to be both in
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danger and living separate from it at the same time. I'm certain fans of this type of historical fiction would enjoy this book, but I didn't get much out of it.
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Original language


Original publication date

2022-04 (Nederlands)
2021 (Engels)

Physical description

416 p.; 9 inches


0062946986 / 9780062946980
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