I’ve just finished reading a great book! What do I mean by “a great book”? It’s the one that when it’s time to go to bed, and you know you have to be up early the next morning, you can’t put down. You just have to read one more chapter. You need to be sure the characters are going to be all right. In fact, you’ve forgotten that they’re characters. To you, they’re now real people.
The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff is like that. It’s historical fiction. There really was a World War II and a Normandy Invasion. There really was a female spy ring run out of London to confuse the Germans and help the Allies. The real one was run by Vera Atkins of the Special Operations Executive. The historical fiction one is run by Eleanor Trigg. The real women were heroic and many didn’t come home. The same happens to the characters in the book.
The chapters alternate between the present: 1946 New York City with Grace Healey, who discovers a suitcase in Grand Central Station with 12 photographs of young women on her way to work one morning.
And the past: 1944 London with Marie, one of the 12, who was sent to France as part of a female spy ring to help the Allies. She was picked because she spoke French so well no one would suspect she was really an English spy. Marie had learned French, and her way around the French countryside, which turned out to just as important, when she was a child. Every summer, she and her mother had gone to France.
The Lost Girls of Paris is well written, vivid and inspired by true events. It has a number of plots and sub-plots to keep you sitting on the edge of your armchair waiting for the next thing to happen. The twelve photographs hold the story together as Grace searches to find out: Who were they? How were they connected? Did any survive?
There aren’t a lot of wartime books about female spies and women doing heroic things like blowing up bridges and sending back radio messages right under the enemies’ noses. If this is the kind of reading you enjoy, then this is the book for you.