Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Blog Tour: The Last Train From Paris by Juliet Greenwood


WWII - check

Paris - check

Dual Timeline - check

Surprising amount of food being mentioned - check!

Iris has long wanted to discuss her origins with her adopted mother but it has always been a taboo subject. However, she is now determined that she is going to find out the truth. Her mother gives her a tin which contains letters and a postcard of the Eiffel Tower which has just one word on it - forgive. And it seems that her mother is finally ready to talk to her about the past, about her past. How exactly did a baby born in France during early WWII end up growing up in picturesque Cornwall? 

Sabine and Nora first meet in 1938. Sabine is a French journalist  and Nora is an English woman with a passion for cooking. They strike up a friendship through letters, with Sabine encouraging Nora to follow that passion and enrol in a French cooking class (hence the unexpected foodie content!) It is 1939 and despite the rumours of war coming, Nora decides to ignore the concerns of her family and travel to Paris to undertake the course, which she loves. In her previous role working at a prestigious hotel she usually is relegated to peeling potatoes while the male cooks do all the real cooking.

Sabine is excited to have her friend nearby, until she is suddenly forced to move to her husband's home town of Colmar in the Alsace region, an area which has at various times been in French and German hands. Her husband who is also a writer who is trying to sell his novel, needs to take over the running of the family shoe making business and as his wife, Sabine has no choice but to accompany him, despite being heavily pregnant. This means sharing a house with his overbearing mother, and meeting his odious friend Karl.

With her husband now absent, Sabine is forced to make a heartbreaking choice in order to save her babies. And Nora is the only person who can help her, despite the challenges this will cause in her own life. And amid the chaos of ware, things happen that end up having lasting consequences for all concerrned.

When we are sitting in the comfort of our own homes, it is really hard for us to imagine what kind of difficult choices we might have to make if we found ourselves caught up in the beginning of a major conflict. And yet, you only have to watch the news to see people who are having to make those kinds of choices every day.

There are so many layers to this book. The characters have to make so many choices just to have the best chances of surviving, and in the course of the book they are exposed to major incidents which would be difficult to deal with just one of, let alone everything that happens. There is also the emotional impacts of realising that the people that you love are not necessarily who you thought they were.

I thought I would share a short quote which caught my attention:

"The truth is, the only way anyone truly wins a war is just to survive. Nothing more. Just live through it to build a future once the madmen have obliterated each other, as they always do."

Both Sabine and Nora were great characters to read about, and there were moments where I was holding my breath to see what was going to happen next.

I had heard of Juliet Greenwood before I agreed to read this book, but I had never read any of her books before. This is something that I will be rectifying as soon as I can.

This was a great read!

I am sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Thanks to the publisher, Netgalley and Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy! Check out more stops on the tour to see what other people thought too.

Rating 4.5/5

About the book

The Last Train from Paris

For Iris, each visit to her mother in St Mabon’s Cove, Cornwall has been the same – a serene escape from the city. But today, as she breathes in the salt air on the doorstep of her beloved childhood home, a heavy weight of anticipation settles over her. Iris knows she’s adopted, but any questions about where she came from have always been shut down by her parents, who can’t bear to revisit the past.

Now, Iris can’t stop thinking about what she’s read on the official paperwork: BABY GIRL, FRANCE, 1939 – the year war was declared with Nazi Germany.

When Iris confronts her mother, she hits the same wall of pain and resistance as whenever she mentions the war. That is, until her mother tearfully hands her an old tin of letters, tucked neatly beside a delicate piece of ivory wool.

Retreating to the loft, Iris steels herself to at last learn the truth, however painful it might be. But, as she peels back each layer of history before her, a sensation of dread grows inside her. The past is calling, and its secrets are more intricate and tangled than Iris could ever have imagined.

The year is 1939, and in Paris, France a young woman is about to commit a terrible betrayal…

A beautifully written and addictively compelling historical novel about the terrible choices ordinary people were forced to make in the horrors of World War Two. If you loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Alice Network and The Nightingale, you will devour this book.

What readers are saying about Juliet Greenwood:

“This was fantastic! Perfect for a Kate Morton or Lucinda Riley hangover, this book will draw you in and won't let go until you've read the last page. This book was unputdownable – fascinating characters, excellent writing, and a plot that keeps you turning the pages. I loved every second of it." Reader review, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“I found myself reading chapter after chapter, unable to put it down. A first-time read by this author but certainly not the last.” Reader review, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“For readers of Kate Morton and Lucinda Riley, this book will be one of your favorites… A historical novel that will keep you reading until the end.” Reader review, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“An absolutely brilliant read. I could not put it down…I loved how the war changed everyone and it was a gripping story... I really loved it. Cannot recommend it enough.” Reader review, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Did everything that I was looking for… it left me wanting to read more from Juliet Greenwood.” Reader review, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Purchase Link -

About the author

Juliet Greenwood is a historical novelist, now published by Storm Publishing. Her first novel was a finalist for The People’s Book Prize and two of her books reached the top 5 in the UK Kindle store. Juliet has always been a bookworm and a storyteller, writing her first novel (a sweeping historical epic) at the age of ten. She lives in a traditional cottage in Snowdonia, North Wales, set between the mountains and the sea, with an overgrown garden (good for insects!) and a surprisingly successful grapevine.

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