A New York Times Bestseller Cosmopolitan Best Book Club Book of 2019 PopSugar Must-Read Book of 2019 Glamour Best Book of 2019 "Fraught with danger, filled with mystery, and meticulously researched, The Lost Girls of Paris is a fascinating tale of the hidden women who helped to win the war." --Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours "Pam Jenoff's meticulous research and gorgeous historical world-building lift her books to must-buy status. An intriguing mystery and a captivating heroine make The Lost Girls of Paris a read to savor!" --Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network From the author of the runaway bestseller The Orphan's Tale comes a remarkable story of friendship and courage centered around three women and a ring of female secret agents during World War II. 1946, Manhattan One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs--each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station. Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal. Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.
There’s much to like about this tale, though I am frankly tired of the back-and-forth timelines used by so many writers these days. The author also uses different points of view from chapter to chapter: Grace, Eleanor, and Marie Roux (a young mother who was one of the couriers working with the resistance in occupied France).
I could have done without the love interest and I thought some of Marie’s actions were inconsistent and downright stupid, given the circumstances. I thought Grace’s role was just padding. The story could easily have been told in a linear fashion with just Eleanor and Marie and would have been about 100 pages shorter.
The character I liked the most was relegated to a rather small role: Josie. She’s a spitfire of a girl and very resourceful. I loved every scene she was a part of.
The one that made the least sense to me was Julian – leader of a band of couriers, he’s in France but doesn’t speak French!
Still, the story, which is partly based on true events, moved quickly and was engaging and interesting. A decent vacation read.
The final protagonist is Grace, a young widowed American who finds a suitcase in Grand Central Terminal and impulsively takes a dozen photographs of women who prove to be SOE agents. Grace's growing obsession with trying to find out who the women are and return the photos where they belong doesn't make much sense and is a drag on the book. Marie's story is the most thrilling as she's actively working in France carrying out missions she wasn't trained for and hoping to avoid capture. But Eleanor's story turns out to be the most profound as it deals with betrayal and personal tragedy.
The book has a better premise than execution, but it was nevertheless an entertaining read.
In 1943 there’s a big problem. Agents in France are being captured and drastic measures are called for. Eleanor Trigg, assistant to the Director of Special Operations Executive in London, convinces her supervisor to allow her to set up a women’s sector to train them to become field agents in France. What follows is a story that travels back and forth in time between Grace’s fixation with the women in the photos and in particular, one named Marie and Eleanor’s tireless work handpicking and training these woman and following, or trying to follow, them as one by one they leave the safety of London for their work in the field. She, too, has, if not a fixation, a particular fondness for Marie.
My only complaint, if it can be called one, with this novel is the author’s insertion of romance. I found it unnecessary and quite honestly, added nothing to the story. The characters are interesting and strong in their own right. The little bits of romance seemed elementary and not as well written as the rest of the book.
That said, Pam Jenoff has written a good novel, showcasing a different side of WWII and the role the Allied Powers played in the final outcome, the use of women as agents to aid partisans in the field in France.
Thanks to Net Gallery for the opportunity to read and review this book.
This is a story of WWII Resistance, courage, anguish and Sisterhood. Yes, Sisterhood. The story is told from the perspectives of Grace in New York in 1946, Eleanor in London in 1943, and Marie in France in 1944. So readers who have difficulty with alternation timelines should find this story much easier to follow.
One morning as Grace Healey is rushing to work she comes across what appears to be an abandoned suitcase in the Central Grand Terminal. Her curiosity gets the best of her and she opens the suitcase to try to determine the owner. Inside she finds a dozen photos of women, some in what appears to be uniforms. Running late for work, she impulsively takes the photos and continues on her way. Later she learns that the suitcase belonged to Eleanor Trigg, who was the leader of a group of female secret agents who were deployed to Occupied Europe. The photos Grace holds are of the agents who disappeared, their fates unknown.
Now let’s jump back three years to when Eleanor Trigg comes before a furious Director of Special Operations Executive (SOE). Close to 300 agents have been sent into Europe to disrupt munition factories and rail lines prior to the planned invasion. The majority of the agents were sent into France but more and more of them are being killed. Most of the French young men were away at the war so the young male agents deployed to France stood out. Eleanor presents a plan to recruit and train women to send into occupied France, mostly as radio operators. She believes the women would be better able to blend into the local population. Surprisingly her plan is approved.
Marie Roux speaks fluent French and is quickly recruited. Abandoned by her husband, she leaves behind her young daughter as she enters training and is deployed to France. It is through Marie that we learn of the dangers these brave young women faced. What happened to these young women? Who betrayed them?
I was completely captivated with the writing and easily shifted time and place with the story. The characters came to life for me. I was eager to learn their stories and felt so angry at their betrayal. Who could have done that to these brave people?
Grace accidentally stumbles across photos she found in a suitcase abandoned in Grand Central Terminal. She is persistent in trying to find out who they are. Eleanor trains girls to go behind enemy lines in Occupied France where they will transmit information back and forth between London. Eleanor is protective of these girls and does everything on her power to find out what happened to them. Marie is a single mother who was recruited by Eleanor.
From the moment I started reading the first page I was hooked. Grace, Eleanor and Marie were three very strong women. I loved how Eleanor was able to find the truth about what happened to her girls. The ending was perfect. I know need to go read The Orphan's Tale and the author's previous books.
I definitely recommend this book. I look forward to reading more books by the author.
Thanks to NetGalley, HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) and the author, Pam Jenoff, for a free electronic ARC of this novel.
Source: NetGalley and Park Row
My Rating: 5/5 stars
I have been so pleased with the quality of books I’ve come across so far this year! The Lost Girls of Paris is a truly spectacular read that had me hooked right from the very beginning.
The entirety of this story unfolds thanks to a mistake, a moment of impulse that leads Grace Healy on a search to uncover the truth of what happened to a dozen brave and selfless women during WWII. It is less than a year since the end of the war and with memories still fresh and trails still relatively fresh, Grace has leads she can follow and a strong desire to do so. What Grace doesn’t know is the can of worms she’s going to bust wide open when she uncovers the truth.
Grace’s search leads her to the world of one Eleanor Trigg, a most unusual woman who has risen rather high in the ranks related to the war against Hitler. Eleanor is calm, controlled, calculating, and trusted implicitly by her commanding officer, so much so that he authorizes her founding of a training program for female spies. What’s more, Eleanor is in full control of the program from recruiting to deployment; the women are Eleanor’s responsibility and she takes her responsibilities quite seriously.
Under Eleanor’s strict instruction her women are trained as radio operators meant to infiltrate occupied France and help disrupt any all plans associated with Hitler and the Nazi regime. Eleanor’s women are meant to blend in with the locals and when they are safely able to radio back information to London so the Allies can act accordingly. For a time, Eleanor’s women and their work allows London to plan, prepare, and execute some serious damage, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and in the case of Eleanor’s women, the end is startingly awful.
As Grace continues to dig into the fate of Eleanor Trigg and her women, she discovers truths that many would prefer never come to light. The fate of Eleanor and her women wasn’t just a tragedy, but likely a homegrown plan meant to sacrifice a few in order to save many. What’s more, because of the time and the place, tracing the fate of each individual woman is going to virtually impossible meaning their families will never know what they sacrificed to bring evil down.
The Bottom Line: The Lost Girls of Paris is an absolutely engrossing book that I finished in just two sittings. While I do like the past meets present trope, I would have been fine without it in this read because the past and the story of the lost dozen was just too good. I found myself reading at lightning speed to get through the chapters related to Grace in order to get back to the chapters related to Eleanor and her women. After reading the author’s note, I understand there is very little historical information related to the actual women’s spy network so many liberties had to be taken in the production of this book. I didn’t and still don’t care! The liberties taken are wrapped around what historical information there is, and that combination makes for a fascinating read. The Lost Girls of Paris is an absorbing read that very well may make my top ten of the year! Yeah, it’s that good 😊
It delivers decent Historical Fiction writing and yet, Marie's decision to leave her child in the care of an elderly relative where she could easily be orphaned
felt selfish and improbable. Expected feelings for the mother and child don't ring true.
The balance of the exciting and unpredictable plot is constantly overshadowed by death,
first of the modern woman's husband, then by the still missing twelve young women.
Pam Jenoff, Author of “The Lost Girls of Paris” has written a captivating, enthralling, suspenseful, intriguing, intense, emotional, edgy and thought-provoking novel. Kudos to Pam Jenoff for her amazing well written novel that vividly describes the characters and landscape in the story. I appreciate the historical research that went into this story. The Genres for this story are Historical Fiction, inspired by true events, Partial Fiction, Suspense and Espionage. The time-table for this story is 1946, and just during the war and after the war. The author describes her dramatic and colorful cast of characters as complex and complicated.
It is just after the war, and Grace Healey, now a widow has come to live in New York, while dealing with her loss. A tragic car accident forces her to go through Grand Central to get to work. She trips over a suitcase. Grace sees a name on the outside, and curiosity gets the best of her, and she opens it up. She cuts her hand on something and sees that it is an envelope with pictures that are in lace. They are young women , some dressed in uniforms. Grace tries to see if someone is looking for a suitcase or pictures. Short on time, Grace puts the pictures in her pocket-book and heads for work.
Grace learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, the leader of recruited females in England used as spies that were sent to France during the war. Twelve of the women disappeared and never came home. Grace, with the help of her deceased husband’s friend start to look for more information.
In the pictures are young women named Marie and Josie, amongst others. They were a group of women operatives working for Britain’s Special Operations during the war, stopping and sabotaging efforts of the German as much as they could. It was extremely dangerous, and could mean these young women’s death. Some handled the radios transmitting information, and others blended into the French countryside getting information. Some would blow up things to stop the Germans.
It seems that these women had a friendship and sisterhood that kept them going. They were brave and courageous. Unfortunately their positions were compromised by betrayal from possibly someone in London. Why are these girls missing?
Grace wants answers as to who, what and why this happened. This novel has twists, and turns. There is danger, murder, betrayals, and heart-break. This is an intense and edgy novel that I would highly recommend for those readers who enjoy a thought-provoking novel. I received an ARC from NetGalley for my honest review.
The book follows the women as they train, friendships are made, stories are shared. Once deployed to Paris, a few find each other, working for the same circuit. Josie and Marie, one fearless, the other determined to complete her mission. Two timelines, a few years apart, picked up a year after the war has ended, when a young woman finds a suitcase, abandoned in Grand CentrAl Station. Inside, a group of pictures, that will lead her on a trail to putting some erongs, right.
A fast paced story, told well. That is except for the romantic bits, which seemed almost thrown in as an aside. Those didn't work for me, found them a little too obvious snd well corny. Still a interesting read, with some great characters.
ARC from Park Row books.
The SOE has incorporated women into their operations. Eleanor is placed in charge of this unit. She carefully selects these women and sees they are properly trained. But, you can have all of that going for you and still fail…if you are betrayed.
As most of you know, I love strong women and WWII is my favorite time period. So, this book is exactly my cup of tea. I will say, I was skeptical at the beginning… I mean…who actually goes through someone else’s suitcase? Don’t you turn it in to lost and found? So, this had me doubting the story just a bit. But the more I read, the more intriguing the tale. I was reeled in…hook, line and sinker.
To say I loved this book is an understatement. All the women, the espionage, the danger, the history and the mystery surrounding what happened makes up a unique story not to be missed!
I received this novel from Harlequin via Netgalley for a honest review
1943 - Eleanor was the woman in charge of the recruiting and placement of the women.
Eleanor knew it was very dangerous for the women to be doing these covert deeds as well as knowing that they are not as strong or physically equipped as men, but the women were definitely less easy to spot or were they? She had to prove to the men in charge that the women she chose were the right ones, and the women could carry out the operations.
1944 - Marie was recruited for one of the dangerous jobs in France since she spoke fluent French.
Marie went through training with Eleanor who was strict and difficult but with Marie knowing she really wasn't. When Marie was sent on her first mission. she was terrified as each woman had been, but the job needed to be completed.
1946 - Grace found a suitcase in Grand Central that had an envelope with photographs of women. This was after the war, and these photographs made Grace curious about who these women were and why that specific suitcase had been abandoned.
Grace needed to find out why the photos were in this abandoned suitcase, who these women in the photos were, and what the connection was to the past and to the war. Grace was also avoiding or was she unconsciously enjoying the company and attention of her dead husband's best friend, Mark.
We follow the lives of these three women in alternating time periods as Pam Jenoff does her magic of detailing and informing us about their private lives, their roles in history, and the situations they were in and had been involved in.
Historical fiction fans as well as women's fiction fans will devour this marvelous book.
THE LOST GIRLS OF PARIS is another beautiful, well-researched Pam Jenoff creation.
DO NOT miss reading this book. 5/5
This book was given to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
We take our freedoms for granted and this read lets you see the sacrifices that were made to let us keep them. We put faces on some of these individuals and walk in their shoes for a while, be careful as you blow up a bridge, yes, this book has action.
Come and see how a chance find in Grand Central of a suitcase and being curious leads to some surprising answers, and a look into the life of a young woman who has also lost, but finding answers just might lead to some healing for many.
I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Harlequin, and was not required to give a positive review.
The three women Grace, Marie, and Eleanor are good each in their own ways. However, none of them really commanded the story or their parts like I wanted them to. Well I just did not experience it this way. Out of the three women; I found Eleanor to be the leader and not just because she was a leader of a secret organization. Next it was Marie and finally Grace.
The overall story was good but I did not fly through it like I normally would. Still, I do encourage readers to pick up a copy of this book as well as other books from this author.
Gripping story of the Women's Branch of SOE, Special Operation Executive, "charged [by Churchill] to “set Europe ablaze” through sabotage and subversion " during World War II.
It's 1946. A young widow, Grace Healey, finds a suitcase in Grand Central, New York. Puzzled she opens it and takes out a bunch of photos of a young women. Why? Even as I was taken aback at that action, it's from here the story springs. Struck by the inanity of her action, Grace tries to return the photos to the suitcase. It's missing! Her determination to find the suitcase and its owner and return the photos leads her on an extraordinary journey.
A journey that casts us back to 1943. Things "had started to go wrong, [SOE] agents [were] arrested in increasing numbers. And so the Women's Branch was created. Eleanor Trigg was charged with selecting and training the women, and that's where the story take an intriguing leap forward and swings between 1943 and 1946, told from Grace's search point of view and that of Eleanor and a young woman she trains Marie.
The action catapults us from war time Britain and France to post war New York with a side trip to France and Germany.
We are with the young women in their training and then their harrowing times behind enemy lines in France.
I was caught up in Jenoff's meticulously researched storyline that translates into an amazing story of a particular group of women's strength and courage under duress, of their involvement in espionage, of the struggle of clandestine operations, and of betrayals from unexpected quarters.
And I mustn't forget the young widowed Grace Healey. Being at Grand Central was a huge step for her. And in her search for the suitcase and its owner she begins to find her way back from her grief and guilt to healing and as yet unknown future.
I found myself totally immersed in this story, metaphorically flicking the pages over in my haste to uncover each truth.
A Harlequin ARC via NetGalley
In the envelope are 12 photos of young ladies. The only identifier is a first name listed on the back of each. Grace did notice a name on the outside of the suitcase and soon realizes that the traffic accident that made her late for work was a pedestrian v. car and it involved the owner of the suitcase she found. In watching the news she learns that the owner has been killed!
Eleanor Trigg works for the war department in London for the division that is placing spies in France. The network is experiencing problems and she puts forth the idea to send women into the field. She is charged with developing the program and starts recruiting women to train for the dangerous work. Most of them will be radio operators. One of them – Marie – is chosen due to her fluency in French. Marie has a small daughter and sees it as an opportunity to earn more money and make the world better for her child.
The story is told in alternating chapters by these three women; Eleanor, an intelligent woman who emigrated to England with her mother to get away from Hitler. Marie, a young English woman who is looking to make a better world and Grace, looking for answers for questions she didn’t know she had.
As with any book dealing with the horrors of war it’s hard to say it’s an enjoyable read. There is a very good story here though. One does have to suspend a certain amount of reality to let the book work though because some of it just doesn’t make sense – like my opening comment about why a stranger would open a suitcase and take something out of it. At least someone who is not a thief. Then there is Grace’s drive to figure out who the girls in the photos are and what happened to them. With everything else going on in her life why? But if you just let reality drop and just go with the flow you have a sort of WWII mystery light that makes for a very diverting read.
Following Grace as she seeks answers, Marie’s exploits in France and Eleanor’s concern for her “girls” makes for good reading. The story solid and Grace is great heroine.
In an alternating chapter, it's 1943, London. Eleanor, recently emigrated to London, while escaping Hitler, and is serving as a secretary in the SOE administration (British Covert Intelligence). She has convinced the Director that dropping female agents into France would be the better choice than sending young males in who stick out like sore thumbs as all able bodied Frenchmen are serving in uniform. But no, "The Geneva Convention expressly prohibits women combatants." informs Captain Michaels, one of the advisors at the table. What?! Women POWs are expressly covered under Article 3 of the Geneva Convention of 1929 (the Geneva Convention in place in 1943). Then Eleanor, presumably a very intelligent woman, goes along with the statement instead of refuting it and setting the record straight.
However, Eleanor's idea gets traction and she's put in charge of selecting the female agents who are to be grilled, drilled and prepared to be dropped into enemy territory. Yes, historically this did happen. There were female agents dropped in behind enemy lines and they blended in with local everyday women. But the rest is pure fiction.
I found it absurd that the following was referred to as a poem by Shakespeare when in fact it was a speech in Act IV, scene iii of Shakespeare's Henry V, wherein King Henry addresses his minimal troops before the Battle of Agincourt, (line 60-65):
"From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
Such cavalier handling of the historical record rubs this reader the wrong way when it is so easily verifiable and could be rectified. Having said that, if you are just looking for an entertaining book that is sort of historical fiction and details are not important, then this would probably be a most enjoyable read. Pam Jenoff writes very well and I found the story-line interesting as long as I treated it as pure fiction.
I am grateful to Park Row Books and Netgalley for having provided a free ebook copy of this book. Their generosity, however, did not influence this review - the words of which are mine alone.
Synopsis (from publisher's website):
From the author of the runaway bestseller The Orphan’s Tale comes a remarkable story of friendship and courage centered around three women and a ring of female spies during World War II.
Grace Healey is rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war. One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, she finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.
Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a ring of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.
Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war, and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances
The novel is dual time line - Grace is in NYC in 1946. She is working with refugees from Europe while she tries to get over the death of her husband during the war. She finds some pictures and tires to trace where they come from which leads her to the story of Eleanor Trigg, leader of a ring of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. In Eleanor's part of the novel, we learn about her secret group and one of her main agents, Marie. Marie was working in London and trying to get to the English countryside weekly to see her 4 yer old daughter when she was recruited into the group because of her flawless French. After grueling training and a bond with Josie, one of the other women in the group, she is sent to France as a radio operator. 12 women were sent info France to aid the resistance and none of them ever returned after the war. What happens in France to Marie and the other agents, shows the strength of these women and their ability to to survive in the most difficult circumstances.
The characters in this book are extremely well written. Trigg is very real as her plans progress and she feels constant worry about the group. Marie was my favorite character as we see her grow from someone with low self esteem to a strong and brave woman. She is not a character that I'll soon forget.
If you enjoy historical fiction - don't miss The Lost Girls of Paris.
Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
The first part of Marie's story centered on her training. I found that interesting and was looking forward to seeing her apply that training in the field. However, after Marie was deployed, there was very little written about her being a radio operator. Mostly what we saw was the odd jobs she was called upon to do that stretched her beyond her training. I imagine the author chose to focus on those actions for the sake of flow and tension, as this was where the suspense really started, so I can understand that.
There was a development that really bothered me, though. At one point Marie sent a message to London, and the response she got was something I couldn't imagine even the greenest rookie sending. Yes, it is fiction, and the response moved the action along the way the author needed it to, but unfortunately it felt unbelievable to me.
Overall, however, I found this an interesting read.