Thursday, April 21, 2022

Review: The Paris Showroom by Juliet Blackwell

The Paris Showroom
by Juliet Blackwell

Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  In Nazi-occupied Paris, a talented artisan must fight for her life by designing for her enemies. From New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell comes an extraordinary story about holding on to hope when all seems lost.

Capucine Benoit works alongside her father to produce fans of rare feathers, beads, and intricate pleating for the haute couture fashion houses. But after the Germans invade Paris in June 1940, Capucine and her father must focus on mere survival—until they are betrayed to the secret police and arrested for his political beliefs. When Capucine saves herself from deportation to Auschwitz by highlighting her connections to Parisian design houses, she is sent to a little-known prison camp located in the heart of Paris, within the Lévitan department store.

There, hundreds of prisoners work to sort through, repair, and put on display the massive quantities of art, furniture, and household goods looted from Jewish homes and businesses. Forced to wait on German officials and their wives and mistresses, Capucine struggles to hold her tongue in order to survive, remembering happier days spent in the art salons, ateliers, and jazz clubs of Montmartre in the 1920s.

Capucine’s estranged daughter, Mathilde, remains in the care of her conservative paternal grandparents, who are prospering under the Nazi occupation. But after her mother is arrested and then a childhood friend goes missing, the usually obedient Mathilde finds herself drawn into the shadowy world of Paris’s Résistance fighters. As her mind opens to new ways of looking at the world, Mathilde also begins to see her unconventional mother in a different light.

When an old acquaintance arrives to go “shopping” at the Lévitan department store on the arm of a Nazi officer and secretly offers to help Capucine get in touch with Mathilde, this seeming act of kindness could have dangerous consequences.

Kritters Thoughts:  A mother daughter duo are in two different places in the same city during World War II.  A daughter who has been raised by her grand parents and has blindly followed their lead is starting to question their response to the war and the Nazi way and this book is almost a coming out story as she forges her own path.  A mother who has had great love and great sacrifice and has found herself in a department store in custody of the Nazis, but has found a way to make it bearable for herself and those around her.  

When I choose a World War II book at this point, I want something that will feel and read differently than the many I have read that take place in this time.  This book did that.  Staying in Paris and showing two different sides of the same war made this book so interesting and I really enjoyed Mathilde's story as she goes from naive to informed and maybe even active in fighting the Nazi party.    

If reading a book set inside a concentration camp during World War II is too much for you, this is a read for you.  While Capucine is in a jail, it isn't as hard to read as some of those other books, but gives you a glimpse of this horrible moment in time and that there were experiences in between the extremes that were still hard for humans.  

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Ebook 2022 Challenge: 32 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Berkley.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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