Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

Charlotte and her young daughter Vivi have lived through the occupation of Paris, France during World War II. Her husband killed during the war, Charlotte barely makes end meet as she works in a bookshop in Paris. She desperately tries to live under the radar of the Germans to protect herself, but especially her toddler Vivi. They barely have anything to eat, and Vivi is sickly, probably due to the lack of nutrition.

When a German doctor begins to come into the she shop regularly and begins to show interest, she must make a few hard choices. Does she, for the sake of Vivi, accept his assistance? But is this choice really for the sake of her daughter or for herself?

Fast forward to the 1950’s and Charlotte and Vivi are now living in New York. Charlotte is an editor at a publishing company, having been taken in by the owner who was a friend of her father’s from years ago. Horace is wheelchair bound after an accident during the war which he refuses to talk about. Charlotte and Vivi live in an apartment downstairs from Horace and his wife Hannah. Charlotte is a hard worker who lives for her daughter Vivi.

Suddenly Charlotte’s past becomes her present when she receives a letter concerning her German doctor. At the same time, Vivi begins to question their Jewish heritage and why Charlotte does not want to celebrate the holidays. She also begins to want to find out more about her dead father and his family. It is then that Charlotte must decide how to answer these questions which she knew at some point would come. But then she would also have to explain secrets she has held close to her heart all these years. She had always dreaded telling Vivi these secrets. She just wanted to live in a bubble with Vivi pretending everything would always be just the two of them and perfect.

But with the memories of her German doctor flooding back and all she has carried from her time in Paris and in the camp they were liberated from, Charlotte must begin the process of letting go of her past demons and guilt and setting herself free. But also fearful of what others will think if she reveals them.

With love and tenderness, Feldman weaves a beautiful story of a strong woman who would do anything to protect and save her daughter, who would repress the love she felt guilty of having and can barely think about to try and make peace with her past so she can once again live and love in the present.

Thank you #NetGalley #Griffin/St.Martin’sPress #ParisNeverLeaveYou #EllenFeldman for the advanced copy.

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