PARIS NEVER LEAVES YOU

An uneven but engrossing page-turner.

Nothing is quite what it seems in this historical novel set in occupied Paris during World War II and the New York publishing world of the 1950s.

Charlotte Foret, a young widow with an 18-month-old daughter, runs a bookstore in Nazi-controlled Paris. Her husband has been killed in the war; her father, a left-wing publisher, is on the run. Food is scarce while the fear of arrest and deportation to a concentration camp is constant. A polite German officer becomes a regular at the store, browsing and occasionally buying a volume. Charlotte is disturbed by his presence and tries to ignore him. But when he turns up one day with an orange for her hungry child, things begin to change. Intercut throughout are scenes from Charlotte’s life in Manhattan a decade later. With the help of Horace Field—a prominent publisher who knew her father—and Horace’s wife, Hannah, Charlotte and daughter Vivi have made a fresh start. Charlotte works as an editor for Horace while Vivi, now 14, is a lively, inquisitive scholarship student. Horace is confined to a wheelchair from wounds suffered in the war; nonetheless, he begins to display a more than mentorlike interest in Charlotte. Complications ensue. It’s hard to get your bearings in the novel’s awkward beginning pages. But author Feldman soon regains control, and the narrative proceeds at a brisk pace. There are multiple revelations: All the major players have something to hide. Though some of their secrets are a bit improbable—leaving the reader feeling intentionally misled—it doesn’t much matter. The story is involving, and the big-ticket themes—having to do with loyalty, betrayal, and what it takes to survive—are mostly handled in a graceful, nuanced way (though Charlotte’s guilt does feel overblown). Wartime Paris is described in vivid, sometimes harrowing, detail.

An uneven but engrossing page-turner.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-62277-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

GIRL ABROAD

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

A rock star’s daughter decides to study abroad in search of her own experiences, finding romance and intrigue along the way.

For 19-year-old Abbey Bly, having a rock star for a father isn’t as glamorous as it seems. For one thing, she shares her name with Abbey Road, and for another, the only version of the famous Gunner Bly she knows is the helicopter parent she lives with in Nashville. Hoping to find her way outside her father’s sphere of influence, Abbey decides to spend a semester in London studying European history at Pembridge University. Promising to keep her father updated on every aspect of life abroad, Abbey heads to her shared apartment expecting to find three female roommates…only to find that she’s actually living with three men. Afraid that Gunner will order her home, Abbey decides to keep Lee, Jack, and Jamie’s gender a secret (lucky their names sound androgynous!) and sets her sights on adventure. While working on a research project about a mysterious painting and adapting to Britain’s drinking culture, Abbey finds time to explore a little romance despite her housemates’ strict no-fraternizing rule. First there’s Jack, a commitment-phobic Australian hottie who can’t seem to stay away from Abbey; then there’s Nate, a sexy bassist who keeps forgetting he’s taken. Toying with nonexclusive relationships and exploring her sexuality, Abbey can’t help but feel excited about all the experience she’s gaining, but has she really, truly found herself? Kennedy’s novel is a page-turner—who wouldn’t want to travel to a foreign country and meet interested potential lovers down the hall? Abbey is a relatable character who yearns to stand outside her father’s shadow, and though the love triangle is a focal point, it never outshines the heroine’s growth.

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9781728299792

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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