The Paris Orphan

Fans of historical fiction set during WWII will want to get their hands on Natasha Lester‘s latest book, The Paris Orphan. This is a well-researched story loosely based on the real life of Lee Miller, a female American war photojournalist who worked for Vogue magazine during WWII – a time when female photojournalists were definitely not the norm.

I enjoyed that this book focused on the female perspective – from the nurses and journalists in the middle of the war, to the women back home whose roles were changing during the war and afterwards. While at times it was hard to read, I appreciated how Lester focuses on the misogyny, harassment, abuse and general disregard for the women aiding the war effort, as well as the atrocities female European citizens often experienced at the hands of the enemy and the Allies.

The story is told using a dual narrative and two time lines – one in modern day and the other during WWII. I read this book on Remembrance Day and perhaps it was the emotions of the day, but I found Lester’s descriptions of what life was like for the nurses, female journalists as well as the soldiers in the trenches quite vivid and, at times, poignant. These scenes are set within a story that combines mystery, family drama, history and romance.

I found the first two-thirds of the book quite engaging with the mystery and history aspects keeping me glued to the pages. But as the book wrapped up, things got a little too melodramatic for my tastes. It was still a good read, but I was hoping for a bigger reveal instead of everything clicking neatly into place. This is good read with an interesting perspective but perhaps a better pick for readers who enjoy a story that ties up loose ends nicely by the final pages. Fans of Lester’s previous book, The Paris Seamstress, will no doubt enjoy this book.

— Laurie P.