Walking through Montmartre that morning was like the eerie calm right before a storm. The roads were deserted. We carried on, arm in arm, and then finally, we saw them. Columns and columns of soldiers, spreading through the streets like a toxic grey vapour. ‘You must write about this,’ he whispered to me. ‘You must write about the day freedom left Paris.’
1937: Florence has dreamed her whole life of coming to Paris. She arrives on a sweltering summer day and, lost on the steep streets of Montmartre, asks for directions from Otto, a young artist with paint-spattered clothes and the most beautiful smile she has ever seen.
Otto becomes her guide to Paris, taking her to visit paintings in the Louvre and bookshops by the Seine. And when Otto returns home to finish his studies, they vow to reunite on the same spot they met, one year to the day.
Still dreaming of their parting kiss, Florence starts writing for an American newspaper and throws herself into becoming truly Parisian. All too soon, heady days of parties and champagne are replaced by rumours of war. When Otto finally returns to her, it is as an exile, fleeing Nazi persecution.
Soon, not even Paris is safe. Florence’s articles now document life under occupation and hide coded messages from the Resistance. But with the man she loves in terrible danger, her words feel hollow and powerless. If Florence risks everything by accepting a dangerous mission, can she rescue their dreams from that sunny day before the war?
Thank you for visiting my Goodreads page! It still blows my mind to be able to say that I'm an award-winning, best-selling author of books for adults, young adults and children, because I'm also a former council estate kid and university drop-out who gave up on my writing dream because I didn't think I was from the right (aka posh enough) background. So I really am proof that miracles can happen!
My books cover wide ranging subjects, from spirituality, love and friendship to World War 2, the refugee crisis and talking animals! One theme remains constant however, my desire to leave my readers feeling inspired and uplifted.
My first historical novel, An American in Paris, was published in 2021, and became an Amazon best-seller in the US and UK, which I was over the moon about, as it turns out I have a real passion for writing historical fiction. I love unearthing the lesser known facts and details from World War 2 and presenting them to readers in stories that will resonate today. My other World War 2 novels are Beyond This Broken Sky, The Paris Network, and the yet to be titled 'Book 4' - which will be published by Bookouture in August 2022.
I'm also currently writing two more books for my Moonlight Dreamers series for young adults.
Because my path to writing success has been such a bumpy one, I love nothing more than helping other writers achieve their dreams via my online community, THE WRITING ADVENTURE (you can find us on Facebook).
I loved An American in Paris. I loved how it switched back and forth between the World War II story and the modern story. The stories were so different but had a connection. Florence and Otto’s love story is heartbreaking, but their love is unbreakable. I loved the characters. Florence is so determined to make a difference in the war. She is personally offended and ready to cut anyone that supports the Nazis out of her life. Sage is a popular influencer that is sick of living a fake life and wants to figure out how to be more authentic. She is inspired to make a difference rather than say what she is paid to say.
Thank you Bookouture and NetGalley for An American in Paris.
I am not sure why I put off reading An American in Paris:An absolutely heartbreaking and uplifting World War 2 novel by Siobhan Curham for so long because I was immediately drawn into the gripping dual time line of this book. The characters were well developed and believable. An American in Paris was a well researched historical fiction novel. Although Siobhan Curham had written other books, this was her first historical fiction novel. It was fast paced and pulled me in quickly and held me captive until the conclusion. It featured strong women characters that stood strong for what they believed in. Couple all those elements with the discovery of long hidden family secrets and the kind of love only experienced by a select few and I quickly devoured every page of An American in Paris.
The year was 1937, Florence Thornton, a young and adventurous American woman found herself aboard a ship headed for Paris, France. She had grown up on a farm in Arkansas where she lived with her father. Florence had lost her mother at a young age. She had been living in New York where she was employed as a dancer but was recently offered the opportunity to dance in Paris at a club owned by her good friend, Bessie. When Florence arrived in Paris, she concentrated on finding her way to the lodgings, Place du Tertre, her friend Bessie had secured for her. Finally she recognized “the church on top of the hill that resembled three huge white breasts” that Bessie had offered as a land mark. The church was called Sacre-Coeur. Just over the hill Florence was supposed to see Montmartre. Then she was confronted with the steepest set of steps she had ever seen. The next thing Florence knew, her suitcase opened and all its contents scattered everywhere. That was how Florence met Otto, a young Jewish Austrian artist “with floppy brown hair and big brown eyes as big as and as soulful as a puppy dog’s” with a kind and relaxed lazy smile. Not to be corny, but it was love at first sight. The two experienced a strong connection with one another immediately. Otto was only going to be in Paris for one more day so Florence agreed to spend the next day with him. He persuaded her to agree to see him by quoting from a Walt Whitman poem. They both admired the poet very much. Florence and Otto agreed to meet at Sacre-Coeur Church. Paris proved to be everything Florence had hoped for as did Otto. The next day proved to be magical for Florence and Otto but Otto had to return to Austria the next day. They spent the night together and he promised her that he would return in one year’s time. They promised to meet on the steps of “their” church on the fourteenth of June in one year’s time, on the day they met. Would the eminent danger of Hitler and the Nazis prevent Otto’s return to Florence?
In 2018, Sage a young internet celebrity, was living in a posh apartment in the Primrose Hill section of London. She had recently lost her mother, Elizabeth, to a life threatening illness and had not given herself ample time to grieve and come to terms with losing her beloved mother. With no other family, Sage found herself alone and vulnerable. It was no wonder that she woke up one morning to find herself in the arms of an unknown man. Without a thought, Sage had recorded a video the previous night that denounced everything she took so long to build and establish as a celebrity internet sensation. She had posted a very incriminating video. Now she found herself staring at hundreds of nasty comments from the fans she prided herself on having and that followed her every move. They were nasty and hurtful comments. Unfortunately, the video had gone viral and had been shown on The Late Show before Sage could even attempt to fix her nightmarish mistake. In no time at all, Sage found herself outed from her job. The presentation on The Late Show,though, led to a man named Samuel T. Clancy from Arkansas, in contacting Sage. Having had seen Sage on television, Sam had recognized the locket Sage wore around her neck. He thought he might have the other half of her locket. Sage’s mom had given her the locket. It was left with Sage’s mother when her birth mother abandoned her at a church in Paris. When Sam contacted Sage, he offered Sage help in finding out whether he truly did have the other half of her locket and to help her find the origins of where her locket came from. He mentioned that he would be able to help her especially if she had a connection with Paris. One thing led to another and Sage found herself on her way to a farm in Arkansas to perhaps meet the uncle she never knew she had. Shortly after she arrived at the farm in Arkansas she discovered that the half of the locket Sam possessed truly matched her half. What could this mean? Her newly found Uncle Sam, presented Sage with a manuscript that Florence, his mother, had written when she was eighty years old. Sam promised Sage that by reading the manuscript, Sage would be able to put the pieces of the puzzle together. She would uncover the people in her family she had not known existed until now. The mystery to her family legacy that had been kept secret until now would be revealed to her. Sage would read about Florence’s and Otto’s life in Paris and the part they both played in the French resistance. She would learn about Florence’s training and being part of the Special Operations Executive. She would discover who Florence was to her.
As the two stories of Florence and Sage merged I felt lots of different emotions. Florence had honored Otto’s wishes and wrote their story so the world would know what really happened during the Holocaust. Sage grew stronger and more self reliant as a result of reading the manuscript and meeting her uncle and Hunter, an employee of her uncle’s farm. An American in Paris was based on love, friendships, actions taken, family and secrets. It was a well written book. I look forward to reading more books by Siobhan Curham. I highly recommend this book.
1937: Florence Thornton has always wanted to live in Paris, when her friend Bessie offers her a job dancing at her club and of course Florence accepts. She arrives in Paris, tired, hot and sweaty and trying to find her way around the city and she doesn’t speak French. While climbing the steep streets of Montmartre, her suitcase comes undone and artist Otto Weiss comes to her rescue. The following day Otto takes her to the museum and has to return home and he promises to meet her at the steps where they met on the same day the next year?
Florence loves Paris, dancing at the club and she’s starts writing a column for an American newspaper. Soon the threat of war has everyone talking, the French people are optimistic the Germans wouldn’t attack France and they have the Maginot Line to protect them. Eventually Otto flees to Paris, he’s Jewish and he had to leave his parents behind in Austria. Once the Germans invade, it’s not safe for Otto to go out and he’s stuck in the apartment. Otto becomes very disillusioned, he’s depressed and he takes risks. Florence has still been writing her newspaper articles, to help the allies she includes small facts about life in the occupied city and every little bit of information helps win a war.
An American in Paris has a dual timeline it goes between war times in Paris in the 1930’s and London and America in the present time of 2018.
2018: Sage Segal opens her eyes, after a night of over indulging and she’s very worried about what she’s done? She's an influence, she uses social media; she has an agent and earns a lot of money. Sage has to keep up the perfect image she’s created, getting drunk and posting what she honestly thinks about her job has disastrous consequences. Just as she’s coping it from her boss, irate fans and mothers of girls that she could have possibly led astray by her drunken night on the town. She receives an email from a man in Arkansas Sam Clancy; he’s her long lost uncle and a half brother her deceased mum Elizabeth didn’t know existed. Sam invites her to visit his ranch, Sage needs a break and she makes the right decision to go to the America. While at the ranch Sage reads a manuscript written by her grandmother Florence, she realizes how brave she was and solves the mystery surrounding her mother’s birth.
I enjoyed reading An American in Paris it’s a story about WW II, two brave people, taking risks, enduring danger, falling in love, heartbreak, loss and Florence being an incredibly strong woman. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, I highly recommend reading it if you like stories with a dual timeline and five stars from me. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/
I am a historical fiction nerd. This book has a dual timeline. And Even though i really enjoy dual timeline it Just did not work for Me in this book. I like the historie fiction part a lot. Following their Dreams, fight, love story and choices they made through their life. The today timeline Just made me mad. Thank you to netgalley for letting me read this e arc in exchange for an honest opinion
Set in dual POV and timelines, An American in Paris follows the lives of Journalist Florence who moves to Paris to be a dancer and live with her friend Bessie in 1937, where she meets the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with, Jewish Otto whose ambition it is to be an artist and Sage, who in 2018 was an internet sensation until she posted a drunken video about how what she does is fake and how her followers mean nothing to her.
The two stories come together when Sage’s video goes viral and even makes The Late Show in America where a viewer notices her unique locket and contacts Sage to tell her he has the other half and does she want to know the story of the locket and where it came from?
I’m not usually a lover of dual POV, in fact, I normally try to avoid them, but having read author Siobhan Curham’s previous books and loved them I decided to take a chance on this book and I can honestly say it is divine and I simply adored it. I think the dual POV being set in two different time periods helped.
Florence is a brave young woman who wants to make a difference in the world and fight for what is right. She isn’t afraid to challenge people, even the Germans occupying Paris. She dances at night-time in her friend’s club and writes an article in the newspaper entitled An American in Paris during the day.
Sage is a mixed-up young woman. She is all alone in the world and presumably thought she was finding friendship on the internet via her Vlog but it all came crashing down on a drunken night. At first, she is upset with what she has done until she realises that she might have been drunk but she meant every word she said. Being contacted about the locket and subsequently making an on the spot decision to go to the USA was the best thing for her. It helped her to make sense of the world and her place in it.
The book is truly beautiful. Both eras have been written atmospherically. Sage is finding out about Florence’s past in her memoirs that she wrote many years after the war and it was lovely to be right there with her reading them too.
The book is strong on friendship, love, and family as well as showing you the ugly side of social media and the harshness of war on people. It is a real gem of a book and a fantastic read that I encourage all those who love historical fiction to pick up.
I very much enjoyed the historical research the author put into this book. More detailed research makes a book more believable and transports us back in time to the time period being portrayed in the book. There are many heartbreaking time periods in history, people struggle mentally and physically,are kidnapped and deaths occur. This book is full of it. It just makes it more realistic. It's not all bad times though, we can feel a glimmer of hope as our characters do whatever they need to to survive. This is a time split novel and as we delve deeper into the book we meet our modern character who introduces us to the heroine of the story, her grandmother through a journal she reads about her life. Her life was fraught with danger and what she got involved in she had no preconceived plans on doing so. Even so she did it for the betterment of her adopted country and for the love of her husband. I was transported back in time with this remarkably realistic book and will be reading more by this author.
Pub Date 04 Jan 2021 I was given a complimentary copy of this book. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.
I read a lot of WWII fiction and it never gets boring because each book looks at the war and the people it affected differently. An American in Paris is the story of an American woman who falls in love in Paris and decides to stay and do what she can to bring peace back to her adopted country.
This is a dual timeline novel but the most important time line is the one that takes place in Paris in the 1940s. Florence is a dancer and is in Paris to dance at a friend's club. When she first arrives and is trying to find her apartment, her suitcase opens up on the steps to Sacre Coeur and the man who stops to help her ends up being the love of her life, Otto. It's 1937 and the people of France believe that that they are safe from the German armies. Otto is an artist from Austria where life has already changed for the Jewish citizens. In 1940, when the Nazis invade Paris, they both realize that their lives will drastically change. Otto goes into hiding because he's Jewish and both Florence and Otto begin to work for the resistance. Can her work with the Resistance help save Otto's life?
The current time timeline features Sage who is a media influencer until she posts some honest videos and the back lash against her becomes highly negative. As she is trying to find herself and her purpose in life, she meets an uncle that she never knew who had a manuscript written by her grandmother Florence during the war. Will reading the story of her grandmother help to put her current troubles in perspective?
This book has it all - historical information, lots of action and intrigue, friendship and most importantly love. The characters are well written and believable. There are a few holes in the plot - things that happened that would have been impossible but they are easy to overlook once you get caught up in the scope and excitement of this novel. Another great WWII novel about strong women and the roles they played during the war.
“We were together, I forget the rest” – (by Walt Whitman)
Apart from that lovely review header, which is the line from a poem by Walt Whitman, whose writing features often in the book, my own initial thoughts (having first dried my eyes – my goodness, how those tissues are getting used just lately!) and what immediately came to mind, were the opening lines from the soundtrack to the 1970 film ‘Love Story’, as they kind of summed up the entire reading experience so succinctly:
“Where do I begin, to tell the story, of how great a love can be”
I can hear some of you already with the word ‘cheesy’ on your lips, but if you think this, you seriously need to read this book for yourself, and I’ll bet you change your mind pretty darn quick. This is definitely one of those books which takes each reader on a unique and individual journey of discovery, although it is difficult to put all those feelings and thoughts into words, without giving away too many storyline spoilers.
This multi-layered story is so much more than a beautifully portrayed war time romance, although that is obviously the core theme. However, wrapped around that, there is a layer of social history, which takes the reader on a journey of discovery about what it was like to be French in war time occupied France, to be an alien in another country which has been occupied by a common enemy and perhaps, most poignantly, what it was like to be Jewish in a Nazi occupied country. Peel back the layers even further and surrounding all of that, we have a contemporary coming of age story, of finding oneself, discovering your family roots and dynamics and experiencing a true and honest sense of belonging and inclusion – of coming home!
From a phone call out of the blue and via the emotional and candid diaries, finally written by an elderly lady who knows she is approaching the end of her life, this story travels full circle, from a man and his daughter on a farm in Arkansas, USA; via Paris, France; onto England; and many decades later, back to that same farm in Arkansas to another man and his niece. One family, many journeys!
Author Siobhan Curham has written a richly crafted, desperately intense story, full of heart, happiness, loss and longing. Together with a powerful strength and resilience in the face of adversity, of loyalty and a sense of doing the right thing and fearlessly fighting for the cause against the common enemy. The narrative is written fluidly, seamlessly and alternately in two voices and dual timelines, between Florence and her granddaughter Sage.
The natural peaks and troughs of the well constructed, evenly paced plot, have the atmosphere alternating between crackling with suspense, suspicion and tension; to the gentle sigh and release of a long-held breath, the sudden lifting of a burden of guilt, the discovery of genuine friendships, and the joy of loving and being loved in equal measure.
A compelling, profoundly touching story, effortlessly written with total total authority and consummate confidence by an author whose words conjure up a visually descriptive sense of time and place; from the peacetime Parisian artisan cobbled streets of Montmartre, to the wartime concentration camps of the French countryside; from the bustling 21st Century metropolitan streets of London, to the ranch lands of Arkansas where time takes on a whole slower pace. I closed my eyes and could almost imagine myself in any one of those locations, a bystander to the unfolding drama around me.
Siobhan affords that same attention to detail and and visual inclusion, to her cast of characters, no matter how small a part they play in the whole. They are well drawn and defined and whilst not all are easy to connect or empathise with, the overall dynamics and synergy between them, makes them completely investable and genuine in their individual roles.
Ultimately though, this is the poignant story of one man, Otto and one woman, Florence; whose enduring story and everlasting love transcends everything, including death.
An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham is a great dual timeline historical fiction novel that kept me entertained throughout.
This book has a little bit of everything: historical fiction, intrigue, mystery, twists and turns, love, loss, romance, and sadness.
This book weaves between “current day” Sage in 2018 and 1937-1945 Florence. Both are young women at pivotal points in their life trying to figure out who they are, their purpose and their paths, especially during life-altering crisis. Florence is an Arkansas born, NYC changed line dancer that finally travels to Paris in 1937 to meet up with her friend and mentor Bessie to dance in one of her shows and find a new and exciting life. There she meets her other half and the love of her life, Otto, an Austrian Jewish man and talented painter.
Sage is a young woman who lives in London and has created a flashy and empty persona through her successful influencer position, only to have it crashing down when she accidentally posts an inappropriate video. She then finds that she needs to find out who she really is and wants. She finds her escape when she receives an email from Sam, whom she finds out is actually her mother’s half brother that was unknown to anyone. Her mother, Elizabeth was abandoned in Paris at the end of the war. Sam seems to have the answers why, and Sage needs an escape. So she travels to Arkansas to find out more.
What then entails is an interweaving of stories, unlocking of mysteries, and the balance of heartbreaking love and loss, and heartwarming experiences of finding oneself and finding love again. I will leave the rest for the reader to experience, as there are several mysteries that are best left to be discovered while reading this excellent story.
I thoroughly enjoyed Florence and Otto and it was hard to read their bittersweet romance. I was unsure of Sage at first, however I enjoyed her development, awakening, growth, and chemistry with Hunter. I also enjoyed her newfound family with Sam. I also really liked how it all ended.
An excellent historical fiction. 5/5 stars
Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for this ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.
I am posting this review to my GR, Instagram, and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.
From The Publisher:
Paris, 1940: Walking through Montmartre that morning was like the eerie calm right before a storm. The roads were deserted. We carried on, arm in arm, and then finally, we saw them. Columns and columns of soldiers, spreading through the streets like a toxic grey vapour. ‘You must write about this,’ he whispered to me. ‘You must write about the day freedom left Paris.’
As Nazi troops occupy the City of Lights, American journalist Florence is determined to do everything she can to save her adopted home and the man she loves.
Florence had arrived in Paris in 1937 and on a beautiful summer’s day, met and fell in love with Otto, a Jewish artist from Austria, who had fled persecution in his homeland. But as swastikas are draped along the city’s wide boulevards, everything Otto was running from seems to have caught up with him.
Both Florence and Otto begin lending their talents to the Resistance, working to sabotage the Germans right under their noses. Florence’s society columns that, before the war were filled with tales of glamorous Parisian parties, now document life under occupation and hide coded messages for those fighting outside France for freedom. While Otto risks arrest in order to pin up the anti-Nazi posters he designs by candlelight in their tiny apartment.
But with every passing day, things become more dangerous for Otto to remain in Paris. If Florence risks everything by accepting a secret mission, can she ensure his survival so that they can be reunited once the war is over?
A sweeping wartime story that will capture your heart and never let it go. Fans of The Alice Network, The Lost Girls of Paris and My Name is Eva will be absolutely gripped from the very first page.
Siobhan Curham is an award-winning author, ghost writer, editor and writing coach. She has also written for many newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Guardian, Breathe magazine, Cosmopolitan, Writers’ Forum, DatingAdvice.com, and Spirit & Destiny. Siobhan has been a guest on various radio and TV shows, including Woman’s Hour, BBC News, GMTV and BBC Breakfast. And she has spoken at businesses, schools, universities and literary festivals around the world, including the BBC, Hay Festival, Cheltenham Festival, Bath Festival, Ilkley Festival, London Book Fair and Sharjah Reading Festival.
Social media influencer, Sage is on top of the world and then in one night of drunken stupor everything comes crashing down. She quickly becomes the top of the town and in the midst of all the hate mail...she receives an message that changes everything. Raised by a single mother, whom she recently lost to cancer, Sage knew very little about her family but the message she receives introduces her to a heroic grandmother and an uncle who welcomes her with open arms.
Prior to the start of WWII, Florence relocates to romantic, artistic Paris to be a dancer in a nightclub. The very first day, she meets the love of her life, her kindred spirit match, Otto. As an Austrian Jew, life begins to change dramatically for him as the Germans invade but their love never falters. Determined to fight back, they become involved in the resistance. And when Otto is captured for defacing a nazi poster, Florence becomes a part of the English SOE in hopes of rescuing her beloved from an internment camp. When the war ends, a broken-hearted Florence returns home to America and bottles up her experiences and the fact that she had a baby who she left on the steps of a church, Sages mother. At the age of eighty, Florence began to write her story and it’s presented to Sage when she meets her uncle for the first time. In her grandmothers story, she finds the family she’s always long for and more importantly, herself.
I loved every second of this book. I’m always drawn to multigenerational WWII stories and this one did not disappoint. Such strong, determined characters determined to make a difference in the face of evil pave the way for the next generation to do the same in a very different yet strangely similar world. The author paints beautiful pictures of Paris in this story...especially through the eyes of Otto. But it’s Florence who teaches us to be strong and that true love can give you a strength you never knew existed.
Thank you to NetGalley and Siobhan Curham for early access to this gem. I highly recommend curling up with this lovely story and reading it from cover to cover!
Masterfully combining intrigue and heart-wrenching scenes of love and loss, Shiobhan Curham in ‘An American In Paris’ writes an enthralling story that puts readers in the middle of the chaos surrounding World War Two. With twenty years of writing contemporary fiction behind her, Curham’s historical fiction debut showcases the epic journey of a courageous woman in an unforgettable tale of wartime sacrifice and the power of steadfast love.
'An American In Paris' follows a young woman, Florence Thornton from Arkansas, who, fearing for her life, escapes from New York to join a dance troupe in Paris. Upon arriving in Montmartre, Florence meets Otto Weiss, a Jewish Austrian, and she soon finds herself abandoning her youthful dream and joining the resistance to fight against Nazi Germany.
In this dual timeline, readers are also introduced to Sage Segal, who, in 2018, has taken London by storm as a social media influencer. Unfortunately, having recently lost her mother to cancer, Sage’s life is in turmoil as she has inadvertently caused her own demise and is at a crossroads in her life. A fan leaves a comment on her Instagram feed that leads Sage to believe he knows about her grandmother; a woman neither Sage nor her mother has ever met. Like Florence, Sage runs, not from things, but to things. She leaves London for Arkansas to see if she can heal her past in an effort to move forward with her future.
Without knowing how countless innocent people lived through some of the most harrowing times in history, we can’t possibly, as a society, expect to move forward in the ways we feel are necessary and in a manner that truly matters. In fact, some of the best depictions of what life was like during WW2 are those that occur far from the front lines of battle and focus on regular people trying to live their lives as normally as possible under the dire circumstances. Curham has portrayed a clear picture of ordinary people who are forced to set aside their hopes and dreams to fight and gain a sense of purpose in their ever-changing world. We can see how resilient and resourceful humans can be when faced with the unthinkable.
Sprinkled with references to eagles and trees, Curham’s writing also highlights the works of the American poet, Walt Whitman. Her university focus in English literature is evident in her unique writing style which pays tribute to Whitman through her characters’ love of nature. In a recent interview, Curham reveals that she pinned a line from Robert Frost on her desk while she wrote. “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” It’s clear that Curham worked by this motto because her story evokes surprise and tears. What makes this debut historical fiction a spectacular read is Curham’s meticulous research. She has masterfully captured the nuance and danger of the resistance movement as well as life in occupied France. Deftly integrating obscure facts from her research, Curham has woven in the experience of a female undercover operative who parachuted and landed in a tree as well as a desperate man who escaped from a train full of Jews using a sweater and urine to create a story that grabs readers from the beginning and won’t let them go until they finish the last page.
I loved absolutely everything about this novel and won’t hesitate to claim it as my favourite historical fiction read of 2020. I’m excited to discover that this is the first of a two-book deal Curham has agreed to write for her publisher. This means that we have another delightful book to look forward to next year!
Thank you to Shiobhan Curham, Bookouture and NetGalley for this binge-worthy advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Paris in any book title mesmerizes me like a moth to a flame. This book did just that - this was a mesmerizing dual tie line read that I absolutely loved and enjoyed. The way the stories were weaved together linking back the two stories were absolutely brilliant and one I really enjoyed. As a lover of both historical fiction and contemporary reads, this novel was well written and truly engaging as I could not stop turning those pages to see what would happen between the characters in both timeline.
The story set in the late 1930's, is centered on Florence a journalist and dancer who moves to Paris and has a chance encounter with Otto, a Jew and an artist whom Florence falls in love with. Then in 2018 in another timeline and point of view, we meet social media influencer Sage whose lapse in judgement goes viral which ends up being viewed by someone who noticed her unique locket.
I found the story and the circumstances surrounding them absolutely brilliant. This was such a gorgeous story that looked at both past and present and how the war and at the same time social media shows its harshness. I found this quite an immersive read I really enjoyed. I highly recommend this to historical fiction fans. And to those new to this genre will find this novel about strong women, courage and family quite the read.
The love story of Otto, a Jewish artist and Florence, an American dancer in Paris during WWII was a heartwarming and heartbreaking story. That two people could have such a powerful love was so romantic. The work they did with the resistance, the trials they went through were nothing short of amazing.
The characters were so true to life and the descriptions of the buildings and the scenery and even the clothing worn was such I almost felt like I was there through reading the book. I could smell the crepes and see the leaves on the tree outside the window.
I cringed when it spoke of the Nazi's and their cruelty, but then it spoke of Klaus and I thought maybe, just maybe not all were quite so cruel. Betsy's story was very sad as was that of Otto and Florence. The Scene with Emil was different but very believable as was the actions taken afterwards.
I also enjoyed the story of the granddaughter Sage in another time period reading her grandmother's story, spending time on her farm in Arkansas with her uncle and redeeming her life. It was special that she wanted to share her grandmother's story. It was interesting that her grandmother started at the farm in Arkansas, went to New York, and Paris and ended up living out her life on the farm in Arkansas.
I enjoyed reading the story of Otto and Florence and I would recommend it.
Thanks to Siobhan Curham, Bookouture, and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advance copy in return for an honest review.
There's an old adage that is something along the lines of if you want to know the truth ask a drunk. For Sage Segal, a night out is enough to ruin a highly successful social media influencing career. If you want to keep your career then you probably should not reveal to the world that everything is fake, and that all the positive life messages you post don't reflect how you actually feel. Let's call it a career limiting move. In addition, it makes you a target for online trolls.
What Sage doesn't expect amongst all the vitriol is an email from an American man called Sam who claims to have the matching half of the locket that she was given by her late mother. She was left on a church doorstep in Paris at her birth, with only the locket and a scrap of paper saying her name. Given the toxicity at home, Sage takes the opportunity to go and visit Sam in Arkansas.
There Sage begins to learn the story of her grandmother, Dorothy. Originally from Arkansas, Dorothy went to New York and became a dancer. From there her friend Bessie invited her to come to Paris to dance, setting in motion a chain of events that she could never have dreamed of as a young girl on the farm.On her first day in Paris, Dorothy meets an artist named Otto and they have an instant connection. Unfortunately, Otto is returning to Austria the next day so they only have that one day but they promise to meet again at the same time on the same day next year. But Europe in the late 1930's is not a safe place if you are Jewish, as Otto is.
I have enjoyed this book very much. The book is narrated in two temporary times, on the one hand we will know the life of Florence, she becomes journalist that will use that platform to expose the pain and injustice happening with the nazis, she also dances in the club of a friend in Paris and gets as much information she can, Paris is the city she will meet Otto a Jew with dreams who’s will be breaking apart with the invasion of the Nazis and that will impact not only in the life that he shares with Florence but in all those Jews in the Second World War. We will also have Sage in our current time who is an influencer of social media that is tired of them and all the vanity and hypocrisy that exists that after uploading a video totally drunk with all that has pretended to be and receive the rejection and hatred of much of its followers is contacted by who seems to be his uncle and that thanks to the video went viral and have seen it in America her life will change completely. Sage will learn through a book in the form of a diary about Florence and all her courage and fight against the Nazis, she realizes that she is not as alone as she thought. I have loved that duality of chapters, jumping from Florence to Sage and what they are telling us and discovering has been simply wonderful. I love these kinds of books and I try to sign up for any opportunity I get to read them. Many thanks to the author and NetGalley for trusting me with an advanced reader copy.
An American in Paris is an amazing novel that I encourage every book lover, especially one who has even an inkling of interest in WWII, to read. I know just about every book lover has read their fair share of a love story based in the WWII time period, and my guess is that not many still feel that same anticipation when they pick up yet another novel based on what they assume is the same story line yet again, but trust me, this one is different. No, really, it truly is! Yes, it is a tender and beautiful love story in the WWII time period that depicts glorious and descriptive settings. Yes, there are characters that interest you, that you are eager to read more about. Yes, there is a dual timeline that links the two eras together. So what DOES make it different? My opinion is that it is the talent of the author that sets this novel apart from others. Siobhan Curham was able to set a tone that still piqued my interest, though I have read countless other novels based on the same. She was able to switch from the historical past and incorporate the characters, the tone, the language, the scenery perfectly, and then do the same for the current present day. Her characters were developed and portrayed in such a way that I not only felt connected, but I felt true emotion and empathy while reading. The prose, the storyline, the talent all just shine through page after page after page. There were plenty of times that I would have been satisfied with the novel ending where it was, only to be blindsided with another twist or punch thrown in unexpectedly leaving me feeling breathless and in awe yet again.
An American in Paris was such an amazing novel and I predict it WILL be a bestseller and it WILL be one of those novels that EVERYONE talks about for a long long time. I have already recommended it to my book lover friends and I am eager to hear what they think. I know everyone will love it, just like I do.
Lol, I thought this book was so contrived and simplistic it was hard to read! I finished it because I have somewhat of a theme going lately of reading books with the word Paris in the title. The others have been good so hard but I should have expected a down dip. The writing was pretty basic so I tried to see if it was considered a YA by going to my two local libraries catalogs but NONE of this author’s books are even listed in the catalogs. So glad much for that idea. Curham should have done more research- she’s giving her main characters slang from the 1920’s or ‘30’s rather than the 1940’s era they are supposed to be in. She used UK slang from an American character as well- huh? Also, Arkansas is pretty civilized these days and she had their speech totally inappropriate. And shrimp and grits is not a specialty in land locked Arkansas even tho it probably would be available as it is in lots of states. Fortunately it was short and I was able to finish it (gag!) but there were so many instances of unbelievable connections. Please don’t waste your time reading this as I did!
I SO wanted to like this book as WW2 novels are a favorite. But this was difficult to read. The story is just OK. However the author’s disdain for the rural south of the U.S is apparent and frankly insulting. I understand the author is from the UK but her characterization of the Arkansas people—including the main character, Florence, — and their language is a bad caricature. I would begin by pointing out that the word y’all is plural. When we speak of one alone we say “you” like y’all. I would not read another of her books.
It is hard to write a review with my eyes filled with tears; and to think, I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this incredible story. A well written and researched dual timeline set in the present day and spanning back to WWII Paris. It is a story of undying love, loyalty, danger, suspense, heart-break and discovery. Couldn't put it down!
An American in Paris. a dual-timeline story, tells us about Sage, a present day influencer and her grandmother, Florence, an American who is dancing in a club in France as WWII breaks out. Sage's mother died a year ago, and as the anniversary of her death approaches, Sage finds herself spiraling out of control. When she has a meltdown at a local bar and posts it to instagram, her life changes drastically. Not sure what is to become of her and where she will go and what she will do, someone reaches out to her and she realizes that she might not be alone after all. The second timeline begins in 1937, when Florence arrives in Paris to dance at the Flament Rose, a club owned by her friend from New York, Bessie. Florence is recruited to write light pieces about Parisienne women for a US paper and she is loving her life. She falls in love with an Austrian Jewish man and they marry. Not long after, Germany occupies France, changing all their lives forever.
Both women are at a crossroads in their lives, with Florence's being a struggle to survive the horrors of war, Sage's trying to find what she really wants out of life and discovering a past and family she never knew she had. Florence is a remarkable woman. She did not survive an internment camp, she was not a possession of a German officer, but she did her part to help win the war. She wanted to do her part to get the Germans out of France and help those that she could. It was sad, it was painful and it was horrific to live through, but she survives. It was the major part of the story, Sage is more a conduit to sharing this story, but does play a part. The two timelines meshed together seamlessly and I enjoyed taking peeks at Sage's transformation on the farm. I enjoyed this emotional tale, learning some things along the way, and happy with the ending. The book has themes of friendship, love, family, the pitfalls of social media, PTSD, and hatred in war. Overall a well-written and researched story. I recommend this one to those who enjoy historical fiction, especially with a dual-timeline. I was gifted a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.
This was a story on many levels. The present and the past brought together by a journal of 1937 Paris and found on a simple farm in Arkansas, USA. Florence is our original stalwart who has come to Paris as it has always been a dream of hers to live the Parisian life and savour it to the full. Meeting Otto was a life changing event for her - it was simply asking directions to her pensione! and everything changed.
The story goes on to document the changes in Paris and Florence's own life when Otto decides to go back to his country in Austria (with a very dire future) with what we know happened in Austria. Florence pursues her life in Paris in a different style - still entertaining people at the club she originally joined, but now her clients are the upper rank Germans whom she despises but whom she must patronize if she is to glean any information which will be useful for the British for whom she clandestinely works. The story is complicated and the journal is written as a memoir of Florence as a much older lady.
Her grand daughter Sage escaping an internet trolling goes to Arkansas to try to leave her influencer background and followers behind. It is she who is given the journal and then discovers the background of her grandmother, and her mother and the relations she never had. Always believing that she was unwanted and abandoned, she now finds a family.
History in the form of historical fiction well told, with a poignant love story told and two distinct time lines as well.
Split between two time periods, An American in Paris tells the tale of Sage a modern-day influencer whose celebrity crosses multiple platforms, and her grandmother Florence who fights with the resistance in German-occupied France during World War II.
Sage hits a low on the anniversary of her mother’s death with a drunken diatribe recorded on her Instagram causing both an upheaval in her life, but also bringing some much-needed answers to questions about her mother.
Florence, a dancer and part time writer is immersing herself in Parisian culture when she meets and falls in love with a young Jewish man named Otto. Shortly after the Maignot Line is broken and Germans march on Paris drastically changing their lives.
Both women are at a crossroads in their lives, unfortunately Sage’s feels a little petty compared to what Florence faces. Yes, I do feel some empathy for the rage and ridicule Sage faces from her online community, but it feels rather unimportant in the face of literal war that Florence faced in her coming of age.
This was a quick read, enjoyable, but lacking depth that I usually can find in WWII novels. I would give it three and a half stars if Goodreads gave half options. Thank you to Netgalley and Siobham Curham for the advanced copy.
I am an avid reader of historical fiction set around WWII and the Nazi Occupation of various European countries, particularly France. This is definitely my new favorite story. I love the way the author depicted the interwoven stories across generations. Although fiction, the stories of the resistance fighters, spies, and couriers deployed by Britain and the US, never cease to amaze me. I’m in awe of their courage and strength.