Clayton (The Wednesday Daughters, 2013, etc.) explores the lives of two courageous women—journalists who set out to document Paris’ liberation from the Nazis in 1944 (and find themselves ensconced in a bit of a love triangle in the process).
The narrator, Jane Tyler, meets Olivia “Liv” Harper in a French field hospital in June 1944. Tyler’s a reporter with a Nashville newspaper; Harper’s a photographer with the Associated Press. They're both there to cover the war, but they're frustrated by the sexist barriers they continually find themselves up against; at the time, journalism was a boys’ club, and the military restricted what female correspondents could cover. After Liv realizes that the only way she’ll get to chronicle the kind of gritty, true-life stories she’s hungry for is by heading directly to the front lines, she decides to abandon her dismissive male commanding officer and go AWOL on a mission to still-occupied Paris. Also looking for a career coup, Jane joins her, guided not only by a desire to break some news, but to do it as long before her male competitors as possible. (Yes, Clayton infuses the story with an appealing whiff of go-get-’em girl power.) Along the way, Liv and Jane meet Fletcher Roebuck, a charming English photojournalist who accompanies them on their dangerous mission, and tangled emotions are understandably heightened by both the trio’s forced closeness and the wartime challenges they must stare down together. Clayton’s most ambitious undertaking to date may be fiction, but it’s impeccably researched, offering a striking glimpse into what life was like for the predecessors of some of today’s most famous female journalists.
A must for World War II buffs and fans of sharp, boundary-busting female characters.