Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Perfect 10:

THE LAST TIME I SAW PARIS – Lynn Sheene
A Perfect 10
Berkley
ISBN: 978-0-425-24084-7
May 2011
Women’s Historical Fiction


Manhattan, New York and Paris, France – 1940 to 1945

Claire Harris Stone, real name Clara May Wagner, is married to Russell and has earned her
jewelry by helping him in his nefarious business dealings. She is sophisticated and beautiful. Shocked to receive a letter from her family whom she has not seen for eleven years, she remembers the day she left the small
Oklahoma farm for the big city. Knowing Russell will be angry to discover that she is really just a poor country girl, not the upper class woman he believes, it is time to leave. She packs up her belongings and goes to Paris hoping to see an ex-lover, Laurent.

Claire arrives in Paris, but Laurent and his friend, Englishman Thomas Harding Grey, want to send her back to New York. They tell her that Parisis too dangerous with the Germans getting close to the city. She refuses to leave and walks through the city coming across a pretty flower shop. Claire meets the proprietor, Madame Palain, and ends up with a job and a small apartment above the shop. A few weeks later, the swastika flag is flying over Paris. Claire is horrified at the cruelty of the Nazi soldiers. She stays out of their way
because she does not have the proper documents.

One afternoon, Claire runs across Laurent and his friend, Grey. She attends their party that
evening and meets Odette. Odette asks her to spy on the Nazis when she goes into the hotels with her flowers, and in exchange, Odette promises her some forged papers so the Germans will not arrest her. Her first inclination is to say no, but after a close call, she agrees. She meets some influential men and some collaborators and passes on whatever information she gleans. Grey is her contact. How dangerous will this be for Claire?

Claire had been pretty much of a party girl before she arrived in Paris, thinking only of herself. Now she is involved in some dangerous spying for theresistance. She hates what she sees the Nazis and collaborators doing, but loves the beautiful city. She feels more like a Parisian every day, gets more involved in helping her adopted country, and begins to care about Thomas Grey. Readers will get caught up in this amazing story set during World War II. The German SS soldiers are brutal, the people cowed under their dominance, but Claire is intelligent and very much a heroine. This reviewer had a hard time putting the book down, it was so captivating. THE LAST TIME I SAW PARIS has friendship, romance, betrayal, and intrigue. Well written by this debut author and with excellent pacing and a heart-felt story, there is only one way to celebrate this wonderful book, and that is by giving it a Perfect 10.

Marilyn Heyman

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