I gave The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff a 4.1/5 stars for this historical fiction standalone. I loved that there were three alternating female POV in different years until their story intersected. There wasn’t much romance in this (no steam) but the little that was there fell a bit flat for me in regards to the emotions. There are a lot of comps to this one, but The Paris Dressmaker is most relevant. No inspirational quote stood out in this novel and because there were three main protagonists, it was a bit hard to pinpoint their arc of what they learned. Eleanor probably learned “the truth,” but that doesn’t show much growth within herself. Marie … well I can’t give away spoilers … hhhm well, Grace probably had the most character arc since she wanted the sacrifices in the war to matter, which mirrors her grief from losing her husband.
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.
Here are my thoughts while reading:
A lot happened in chapter 1. We meet Grace in 1946 in NYC who seems to be a bit lost after her man didn’t return home from the war. On her way to work a series of crazy events happen including finding a strange suitcase with the name Trigg on the exterior. Inside there are a bunch of pictures of women. Instead of replacing the images, Grace steals them (for an unknown probably- innocent reason). In chapter two we jump to Eleanor in London in 1943. I think her last is Trigg which means the suitcase found 3 years later might be hers. She seems responsible for coming up with the idea of woman spies. So maybe the women in the pictures are all spies.
In chapter three we see a third POV from Marie who is recruited as one of the spies. She has a young daughter she needs to return to and is unsure if she should take the job.
Page 94 … yup, I had a hunch!
On page 103, things are starting to get exciting and the author is doing a good job of increasing anticipation.
Chapter 11 was loaded with information in the new setting. I felt unable to trust anyone and frustrated with her that she said her real name immediately instead of her cover when she wasn’t sure who she was dealing with.
Grace’s POV is slower since not much has happened since she found the photos and it feels like she keeps repeating herself. Plus, I’m having a hard time believing WHY she cares enough to do anything with a pile of pictures.
Page 180- she’s really stupid for revealing so much. I feel like this was a way for the author to remind the reader of info, which felt unnatural.
In chapter 14, the growing feelings seem to be too abrupt and quick and stuff. Not fully believable. So when Marie thinks as if she might have lost him forever, it doesn’t hit me like intended.
At the halfway mark, I’m intrigued to find out if Marie and her companions survived and if Grace will find them years later or how will their stories intersect?
At page 210, I’m a bit frustrated that the emotions are falling flat.
In chapter 19, I don’t believe her claim for love because there wasn’t any evidence or time to experience that on the page.
So this is one of the only books I’ve read where I may have liked the first half more than the second half. Obviously we were given more answers in the second half which is usually what’s rewarding to the reader. But the second half felt more forced with the feelings and interactions between the characters.