The war is over, but the past is never past …
Paris, 1944. Charlotte Foret is working in a tiny bookstore in Nazi-occupied Paris struggling to stay alive and keep her baby Vivi safe. Every day they live through is a miracle until Vivi becomes gravely ill. In desperation, Charlotte accepts help from an unlikely saviour – and her life is changed forever.
Charlotte is no victim. She is a survivor. But the truth of what happened in Paris is something she knows she can never share with anyone, including her daughter. Can she ever really leave Paris behind, and embrace the next chapter of her life?
Seamlessly interweaving Charlotte’s past in wartime Paris and her present in the 1950s world of New York publishing, Paris Never Leaves You is a heartbreakingly moving and unforgettable story of resilience, love – and impossible choices.
Read some 5 star reviews from our Preview readers here:
Readers who enjoy historical fiction will be drawn into the journey of Charlotte and her daughter Vivi. As German forces occupy Paris during the war, the story interweaves themes of identity, survival, love and guilt. Vivid memories are carried into their new life in America after the war where Charlotte works in a New York publishing company. As Vivi navigates her teenage years and attempts to develop her own identity, she turns to her mother to learn about their past. Paris Never Leaves You is such a well written novel that draws the reader into the story. Ellen Feldman’s writing pulled me into the time and place from the first page. The compelling characters keep the pages turning and the story resonates long after the novel has finished. Charlotte’s conversations with her friend and colleague Horace are particularly memorable. The story is very thought provoking and it made me consider the ways our past can shape our present and future. I really loved reading this book and I highly recommend it. – Vanessa, NSW, 5 Stars
Paris Never Leaves You is a remarkable novel that tells the story of a young mother trying to survive 1940s war-torn Paris with her daughter. Feldman flawlessly navigates between the main characters past and present to help show the readers that your future isn’t defined by the choices you’ve made in the past. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, so much so I read it twice! – Emily, VIC, 5 Stars
Paris Never Leaves You was compulsively readable. The book was initially set during wartime in Nazi occupied Paris. Charlotte was a survivor who showed ultimate strength and grit to keep her baby safe through the challenges of war. If you love historical fiction you will enjoy this beautiful story of resilience and love. – Kelly, QLD, 5 Stars
The opening sentences of the prologue had me catching my breath and drew me into the story right away. The fear, anxiety and desperation Charlotte is going through has my heart racing and sparks a fight-or-flight feeling in my chest while I am reading. I should have started reading this during the day, rather than just before bed. Paris Never Leaves You is a book I did not want to put down. I’d hurry back to it every moment I could until it was finished. There are many puzzles to be solved in this book such as what is this letter that has Charlotte so spooked? How is she connected to Horace? How did Charlotte and her daughter reach New York? So many pieces to put together, I couldn’t afford to leave the book for too long before continuing lest I forget what I had learned. The parts of WW2 I had never considered, the decisions some people made in order to survive, justifying actions that seem to be impossible to understand, this story gives a lot for the reader to think about. – Rebekah, NSW, 5 Stars
Paris Never Leaves You is a wartime novel that focuses on the feelings of guilt, desperation and the hard choices made by the main characters. The plot goes from WW2 in France to New York in the 1950’s. There are no heroes in this book, just people trying to live with survival guilt. I did find Charlotte’s indecision and wariness annoying, until I realised her flaws were at the heart of this story. Through her portrayal of Charlotte and the other main characters, Ellen Feldman reflects the ongoing tragedies and psychological effects of war. I found this novel to be a powerful read. – Kerrie, NSW, 5 Stars
Paris Never Leaves You is an apt title for a powerful story which begins in Paris under Nazi Occupation. Evocatively drawn images of a beautiful city under siege, and the strength of the main character Charlotte, quickly draw the reader into a captivating tale of survival. Even in the safety of post WW11 New York, and with the opportunity to forge a new life for herself and her daughter, Charlotte cannot leave her past behind. As she faces new choices and moral dilemmas, a mother’s instinct to survive and to protect her child never leave her. The book is about boundaries; cultural and moral boundaries, those of love and behaviour, and conscience. It offers new perspectives of life during the Nazi Occupation, and raises rather than settles more questions of Jewishness, collaboration and the judgements made of other’s behaviour. As Charlotte struggles with the choices she must make both during and after the war, she emerges as an admirable and strong character. It is through Vivi’s search for identity in New York that Charlotte is finally able to confront the guilt she feels as a survivor. This is a well-researched and satisfying novel which never falls into sentimentality. – Diane, NSW, 5 Stars
Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman puts a spin on typical WWII novels set in Europe. Charlotte and her daughter Vivi are endearing characters and their struggle to survive Nazi occupied Paris is both engaging and horrific. Feldman captures the struggle of surviving day to day with limited rations and a newborn baby in addition to the suffocating presence of Nazi soldiers. This story is told concurrently with their new life in America as a now teenage Vivi struggles to come to terms with being Jewish in a still antisemitic world. The story is told beautifully with meaningful flashbacks to wartime Paris in which the reader is able to understand Charlotte’s reluctance to fully explain her experiences to her daughter. The ending of the story has excellent shock value which tugs at the heart strings, however I didn’t buy Charlotte’s eventual romantic interest which seemed forced and unnecessary. Overall, I found the book to be engaging with Feldman painting a terrific picture of war-torn Paris and its occupants. – Julia, WA, 4 Stars
This is one of those books you just can’t put down. It has it all – love, war, sex, trauma, death and survival. Spanning two continents during and after the Second World War it brings to the fore “abundance vs. a world stalked by hunger, stunted by shortages and mired in misery”. Charlotte, the main character, is strong and a true survivor but also questions the morality of her actions. The author delves into religion, self worth and one’s identity in a way the reader can relate to. The characters almost jump out of each page as if they are real and the emotions are so raw you can almost feel them. An easy read that is well worth the effort that will linger long after you finish the last page. – Angela, QLD, 4 Stars
A captivating novel that had me hooked from beginning to end. Reading about what Charlotte had to endure and overcome in Paris had me both captivated and anxious. The choices she had to make to ensure her and Vivi’s survival is testament to the strong and courageous nature of a mother. – Madelaine, NSW, 4 Stars
It doesn’t seem to matter how many books I read set in this era I always find them compelling. There’s always another story, a different perspective, some other point of view to this remarkable time in history. Paris Never Leaves You is a bittersweet story of one woman’s courage amidst the chaos of this era. It weaves together a story of hope and horror, of love and loss and impossible choices that are forced upon one woman to protect her daughter. It’s a story that will keep you turning the pages as yet another twist arises in the plot. It’s a great read! – Belinda, VIC, 4 Stars