The Woman From Saint Germain by J. R. Lonie Preview Reviews

The Woman From Saint Germain by J. R. Lonie Preview Reviews

Our latest Preview title is The Woman From Saint Germain by J. R, Lonie. Two strangers from vastly different worlds – one a celebrated writer, the other an enigmatic foreigner – are forced to become allies to survive the Nazi occupation of their country in this spellbinding historical novel. But when an unlikely attraction blossoms, the two will learn the difficulty falling in love in a time of upheaval and despair…

Take a look at what our Preview reviewers thought about the book:

‘As a male reader I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Eleanor an American author is in Paris and the Germans have invaded so now she is unable to leave safely. Drastic measures are taken – Eleanor joins a group of refugees fleeing her beloved France. Trying to get to Spain she is helped by a stranger – it is a strange love/hate relationship but they both need each other (no spoilers). Readers will enjoy this book from the very first page till the last.’ – Gavin, NSW

‘An amazing story – In wartime France, Eleanor, an American writer, has made the decision to leave France. Unfortunately now all the borders are closed so Eleanor has to bribe, barter and lie in order to get to the Spanish border. I was swept away with this incredible story which I am sure all readers will enjoy.’ – Deborah, NSW

‘‘The Woman from Saint Germain’ follows Eleanor, a successful and independent American in Paris in 1941. After the Pearl Harbour attack, she finds her situation perilous – America’s involvement in the war means her return to the Home Country will be difficult. Through a few twists, she finds herself escaping with Henk, a mysterious younger man hiding his heritage and his past. There’s a James Joyce book in the fray, which Eleanor continues to protect despite thinking it is full of gibberish. Clearly the author marinated in historical documents, particularly with regard to European refugees, in preparation for writing this book. The story is rich with descriptions. The author attempts to portray the many faces of humanity in this dark time but his attachment to historical truth slows the momentum of the story. Although the majority of the story is from Eleanor’s perspective, it feels as if the author is more drawn to Henk and is more persuasive in representing his journey. The result is a slow soak in the wartime upper class refugee struggle, with a sprinkling of an escape plot.’ – Amy, NSW

‘The Woman from Saint Germain tells the story of Eleanor, an American in Paris when World War II begins. It is an enthralling story of her journey out of France, with many gripping plot twists and turns and narrow escapes from authorities. With vivid scenery and location descriptions, I was absorbed in the story and what would happen to Eleanor and her, at first unwilling, travel companion Henk. A story of extreme violence and passion, with vivid scenery and location descriptions, the only let down was that the complex web of German and French authorities could have used more explanation, as could the character development – Eleanor felt like a female character written by a man. Unsurprisingly, the book reads like a screenplay and I could definitely visualise it on the big screen.’ – Leanne, QLD

‘Thank you Better Reading for my ARC. This book is interesting in that the story is told from several view points, Eleanor, an American stranded in Paris when Germany invades, a young German soldier on the run, and the German policeman trying to track the pair down as they try to escape France. I’m not sure if the author wanted to show what Eleanor, as an ordinary person, would do in an extraordinary situation, or whether I just didn’t warm to her, but I found her vain and unconvincing as she falls in love with her fellow escapee, and makes the most ridiculous decisions given that she is on the run. I did, however, enjoy the historical aspects of the book.’ – Pamela, QLD

‘The Woman from Saint Germain was just fabulous – from page one you are hooked. I loved going on this journey with Eleanor and Henk and the cat. You also have Bauer who is trying to catch them and tries to get ahead of what they are doing and how they keep evading him is just such a great story line. I really enjoyed this book, it has the most surprising ending. Please read this book, you will not regret it at all.’ – Elizabeth, NSW

‘I was very excited to read this book but found it hard going. It lacked atmosphere and depth, and I never connected to any of the characters as to me they had no personality and I couldn’t think of why, as the story itself was intriguing and told from another perspective I had not read before.’ – Jennifer, NSW

‘Thank you Better Reading for this ARC. Refugees trying to escape from occupied France into Spain during WWII is an interesting topic, and it’s obvious Lonie has done his research in regards to this aspect of the story. Unfortunately, the potential for an outstanding story is somewhat lost because of the book’s protagonist. I understand that Lonie wanted to make Eleanor an over-confident American with a temper, used to getting her own way, but I found no depth of character there, no nuance, so that Eleanor is instead a *caricature* of the Ugly American, with unbelievable dialogue and behaviour that would have gotten her shot in no time. This is not the case with other characters – I found Bauer, for example, particularly well-drawn. Interestingly, once the characters reach Pau, I noticed a marked difference in the way Eleanor is portrayed, so that Lonie is able to successfully build up the tension to a satisfying ending. Three stars because of those last chapters.’ – Dominique, SA

‘The Woman from Saint Germain is a tautly paced cat-and-mouse chase, with the main protagonists, Eleanor Gorton Clarke and her enigmatic rescuer, fleeing across France to Spain in a bid to escape the Nazi occupation. Eleanor and her mysterious companion are hunted down by a dogged detective from the Wehrmacht – the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany. Touching on themes of relationships, family, religion, politics, society, bigotry, love and sacrifice, the book reaches a revelatory and satisfying conclusion. I found The Woman From Saint Germain to be a slow burn and it took me several starts to get into the story – mainly because I found it hard to connect with Eleanor, finding her vain, insensitive, frivolous and entitled. I had to mull over this review for a couple of days because I didn’t love the book, mainly because I didn’t like the characters and was undecided on how to rate it. However upon reflection, ultimately I did enjoy the book as I found myself rooting for these unlikable escapees, becoming invested in how their story would end – which is a testament to J.R. Lonnie’s writing. I enjoyed the use of alternating perspectives of the hunted and the hunter and the changes in chapter lengths that added to the tension of the chase. There were some unexpected twists which I thought played out well and I enjoyed how the enigmatic rescuer’s background was slowly revealed layer-by-layer, which helped to reel me in and keep me intrigued until the very end. The author captured vivid details of the landscape and various stopping points allowing the reader to be swept up on the treacherous journey, sympathising with how rough people were living and eating as a result of the perilous times and appreciating how danger lurked at every corner and down every path and how people were more than eager to take advantage of other people’s misery and misfortune, while the good in others was also brought to light. I found myself throwing my hands up in the air in protest and frustration at how baffling Eleanor and her fellow escapee behaved at times and some of the crazy choices they made, but they were ordinary people and ordinary people make mistakes – especially under pressure. Having to leave their old lives behind and experiencing what they have already survived through, you could probably forgive them for trying to retain some of their old comforts and habits. Parts of the book I found initially unconvincing, in particular the unlikely relationship that struck up between Eleanor and her fellow escapee, but by the end of the book it made a bit more sense. The character development made the book a lot more enjoyable. I thought the transformation that the three main characters – Eleanor, Henk and Bauer underwent was quite interesting. Whereas Eleanor redeemed herself in some ways and Henk became more relatable, Bauer started to unravel. Despite not warming to any of the characters and starting off slow, I found The Woman From Saint Germain a good read in the end and appreciated the historical references.’ – Maridel, NSW

‘I received my copy of The Woman from Saint Germain two days ago. I read it without pause, as it was deftly and engagingly written. J R Lonie explores issues of love, identity, assumptions we make as we live and who we are, intrinsically, when we are in a life or death situation. The reader experiences the evolving situations experienced by Eleanor, a wealthy American who finds herself trapped as a result of her decision to refuse to give up a copy of a first edition, then after she is implicated in the Murder of a Nazi. She reluctantly discards make up, money and personal safety in her search for freedom and love. Henk, a Jew with secrets, is a fellow traveler who seeks safety in Spain. Bauer, a Nazi, is consumed by anxiety for his two sons as he leads the search for Eleanor and Jews and as he deals with the Gestapo and the French. The ending is a delight, with its contrasting American setting and family dynamics. Lonie captures the return home in an entertaining and credible manner. It was a pleasure to read this novel. I recommend it, wholeheartedly.’ – Jenni, WA

‘Reading the first few pages, the female lead character came across as a strong, independent woman living and writing in Paris. As the story progressed, she didn’t seem as strong as first thought. Her escape from Paris was long and somewhat confusing. During these chapters, I became disengaged with the story and wanted to get to the end quickly. It was unclear to me why the book that Eleanor was holding on was so important. Maybe I missed that bit. I continued along, hoping that the story-line would lift again. Thankfully, the last few chapters were more pleasant reading, returning Eleanor to the strong woman as portrayed in the beginning. The book had similar lines to war time stories, a bit of romance but overall it was an average read for me.’ – Charmaine, NSW

‘From the start, I found this story not an exciting page turner. The cover design is great but doesn’t really give much away about what is to come. The synopsis doesn’t give much away either. The setting being during the German Invasion of France is incidental and I feel doesn’t bring anything to the pursuit of Eleanor and Henk by a German policeman who has troubles of his own to contend with. I found nothing endearing about the 2 main characters with Eleanor, a 40 year old author, vain, childish and who doesn’t seem to have any real idea about the desperate situation she finds herself in and Henk, a 20 year old Austrian Jew, who is a deserter from the German Army who has a dreadful sense of direction and who keeps a kitten tucked inside his jacket. It was hard for me to understand why Eleanor goes and has her hair done and buys parfum and other cosmetics with police bearing down on her. The author’s use of French and German words was unnecessary in my opinion. I don’t speak either language and found it annoying to have to trip over those words. Author also used English translation beside some foreign words. If he felt the need to do that, then don’t use foreign words. Towards the end we find Eleanor experiencing a ‘surge of heat in her loins’ for Henk. These words made me cringe. It seemed like the author had to give his readers a taste of everything in the last few pages. This included the very predictable happy ending we received.’ – Andrew, ACT

‘The Woman from Saint Germain by J.R. Lonie is so perfectly written that from start to finish, I felt as though I was living the journey with Eleanor mere steps behind her. It is a perfectly told tale of her survival, relying on complete strangers every step of the way, with compelling twists and turns to keep your heart beating faster than it should. I was a little surprised at one of the ‘twists’, I didn’t expect it at all. Possibly could have been written without it, but all in all, I adored the whole package. Well done!! Brilliant work!’ – Rebecca, TAS

‘Thanks to Better Reading for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Eleanor Clarke an American writer living in Paris tries to escape France when the Americans enter the war. A first edition of James Joyce’s ‘Finnigans Wake’ and a German Major from the security service who wants it. Eleanor with her first edition pays to escape Paris with a group of refugees. She ends up on the run from the Germans after one of the refugees, Henk, kills two German soldiers saving Eleanor’s life. An unlikely chemistry between the two develops as they attempt their escape to Spain. I found Eleanor a hard character to bond with as she is vain, makes rash decisions without thought or consequence to anyone else even in life death situations. I love reading historical fiction and I did enjoy the historical aspects of the book but unfortunately I found it a little fanciful in some of the situations Eleanor gets herself into. Rating of 3/5.’ – Karyn, ACT

‘“The Woman from Saint Germain” is an interesting read with solid detail. It is well researched. An intrepid American woman in German Occupied Paris in the Second World War needs to follow an escape route from Paris through Vichy France into Spain. I found it fascinating to learn about aspects of Occupied France and the path to freedom many had to take to escape internment. Even more interesting were the border towns which were crowded with refugees who did not have sufficient funds to hire a guide to take them across the Pyrenees into Spain. The added element of regular patrols by both German and Vichy French troops and the treacherous weather conditions added considerable danger to the route. The book highlights interactions between the German authorities, French authorities, local people and refugees. There are those who make money out of the desperation of people and then those who help without expectation of anything. This book provides a microscope on human nature. I loved the thrilling chase and was satisfied with the twists at the end of the book.’ – Sandra, ACT

‘Thank you #BRPreview for this advanced copy to review. It has taken me some time to be able to find the right words to honestly review The Woman from Saint Germain. I was so excited to grip my teeth into this book and unfortunately, I started to lack enthusiasm quite early. The Woman from Saint Germain follows Eleanor and Henk trying to escape Paris whilst on the run from police after the death of two Germain Soldiers. In my opinion Lonie has cleverly written on this time from a new angle, focusing on different relationships and characters but unfortunately it was a slow burn for me. I recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction. I just hope they warm to the character of Eleanor better than I did. 2.5 stars.’ – Hannah, NT

‘A compelling read that built in drama coming to an unpredictable end. A different perspective on the plight of those fleeing Nazi dominated France. Eleanor – rich, Christian American. Henk – part Jew, petulant with justified hatred of Nazis. Thrown together in the attempt to escape. To Eleanor at first it is an adventure; to Henk it’s always survival. So different but the attraction smolders. They have a predator – the German, Bauer, determined to eradicate them. The story builds in suspense, the journey is wonderful. The description of the hardships, the countryside, the people are enthralling. J.R.Lonie, thank you for the journey.’ – Annie, NSW

‘I really enjoyed the story-line of this book – it was exciting to follow the dual narratives and hope that Eleanor could escape capture! Eleanor was a slightly vain character at times, which was a bit frustrating, however she made up for this in her resourcefulness and determination. Henk was an extremely likable character with a fascinating past – more of which was revealed as the novel progressed. Overall as really enjoyable novel that I would recommend for historical fiction fans.’ – Meg, VIC

‘I feel I need to preface this review by stating I read my advanced copy of The Woman from Saint Germain from #BRPreview immediately after finishing The Book Thief, which I loved. Unfortunately, I was immediately challenged by my immense dislike of J.R. Lonie’s main character Eleanor and feeling a strong lack of engagement with the story. Eleanor’s brash, vain and egotistical Americanisms were intensely irritating and Lonie gave her very few redeeming characters until almost the end of the book. He did redeem himself however with his other main characters, Henk, Eleanor’s travelling companion and fellow fugitive, and Detective Bauer, who is driven to track down the killers of the 2 German soldiers. Both characters were likable and believable, and I weirdly wanted both to succeed in their respective goal to outwit each other. I’m glad I persevered with the book despite the number of times it felt more like an advertisement for Chesterfield cigarettes and Lancôme perfumes than a historical novel based in my favourite time and place for reading. The last few twists and turns were intriguing and I felt slightly more at ease with the book in the concluding chapters.’ – Amanda, SA

‘I genuinely loved this book! To be honest it wasn’t the type of book I’d normally pick up but it surprised me – it was a mix of romance, history, murder mystery and thriller. It kept me on my toes and staying up to red “just one more chapter” while at the same time transporting me to Paris during the war with both the romance and despair that comes with it.’ – Rebecca, QLD

‘When we meet Eleanor, she is an American novelist who has chosen to stay in German-occupied Paris, trying to write her next novel. However before long it is made clear to her that she would be wise to leave France and return home, something which she soon finds is easier said than done, in spite of having an American passport, American dollars and boxes of Chesterfield cigarettes to barter with. On a train packed with other refugees she crosses swords with a young man also seeking to escape the Germans, and they become unwilling partners as they try to find their way across France and into Spain. I thought the book took a while to gain momentum, but once Eleanor and the young man start moving, so does the book. The author has obviously done his research and I found the information brought to light about Vichy France, where the Germans left France nominally in full sovereignty, fascinating. The German captain Bauer, chasing our refuge-seekers, is an interesting and complex character, especially in contrast to his corporal, your standard Nazi villain. Thank you #BRPreview for this advanced copy to review. I recommend this book.’ – Kim, VIC

‘It was very slow going for me to start with. It took me 3-4 days just to really get into the book. But once I started to get into it I found it a lot easier to read. For me the biggest thing was not understanding German or French and the parts written in different languages made it harder for me to read and every now and then I had to look up their meanings. This book follows the main Character Eleanor Gorton Clarke, an author who lives in Paris at the time of WWII, on her journey to flee Paris when she feels it is no longer safe for her to stay there. Eleanor is a middle aged upper class women with auburn hair, and is quite vain about her appearances even in the middle of a war. She finds passage from Paris and across the border where things go wrong for her and she loses site of the guide. When this happens she is met with some German soldiers – she was rescued by none other than Henk – the German pretending to be french. Through the rest of the journey we are following Henk and Eleanor make it to Spain. Eleanor originally wanted to make it back to America to her family but due to circumstances I do not want to reveal, she was unable to. But throughout this Journey Eleanor slowly realises she loves Henk – a man half her age. However he breaks her trust. But by the end of the book I was happy – I loved the ending – it actually makes me want to know what became of Henk and Eleanor post their trek across the country. This book touches on themes of relationships, romance, family, religion, politics, heartbreak, betrayal and trust. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read fictional stories about WWII.’ – Amy, ACT

‘Eleanor, a spirited, entitled and stubborn American author living in Paris during WWII decides to flee toward the Spanish border. That’s when she meets Henk. The friction between them started from the moment they met; it was constant, at times, dangerous and out of place. The desire and need for survival made them unlikely allies. The different P.O.V.s added depth to the story. J.R.Lonie’s skillful control of pace and tension kept me engaged in the book.’ – Aida, NSW

‘I devoured this book. The plot was engaging and interesting. The twists and turns kept me thinking about this book even after I had read the last page. And whilst I found the central character to be vain and frustrating, I grew to love her. I wanted to know how her story ended. I wanted her to have a happy ending (even if sometimes I didn’t think she deserved it). Some of the situations the central characters find themselves in are fantastical, however I enjoyed the journey. The book was well written, and the historical aspects made me respect all the characters points of view. I would recommend this book.’ – Laura, SA

‘The Woman from St Germain is about World War 2 but tells a story that is not so well known. It is a story about the occupation of France by the Nazis, people desperate to escape to another country, the vilification of not just Jewish people but also communists and homosexual people. It also reveals that not all Germans were completely committed to the Nazi ideology. The main character is a feisty American who has long called America home. It starts with her dropping into one of the most famous bookshops in the world – Shakespeare and Co. As life gets harder she plans her escape and meets a young foreigner. They don’t see eye to eye on anything and the only thing he seems to care about is a tiny abandoned kitten. The detail around the escape routes between France and Spain were amazing. And to make things worse, they are being chased by a German police detective, a German version of Sherlock Holmes. He was one of the most interesting characters of all as he was far more nuanced than your average archetypal Nazi. It does take a little while to get into but if you’re interested in World War 2, the fate of ordinary people deemed enemies by the Nazis and the lengths people were forced to go to in order to be safe, then you will definitely enjoy this novel.’ – Kecia, NSW

‘The story follows an American author, Eleanor who lives in German occupied Paris during WW2. When Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese, Eleanor decides that it is time leave as Paris no longer seems safe for an American. Pursued by the Gestapo and armed with her Chesterfield cigarettes and a copy of Finnegans Wake, Eleanor joins other refugees fleeing Paris towards the Spanish border. Along the way to the Spanish border, Eleanor and another of the refugees, Henk get separated from their group. After the separation Henk ends up saving Eleanor’s life and they continue on their journey together. The character development is done well and the setting was very detailed. I found that the period of time the story was set in was well researched. All of these points made this historical narrative very enjoyable to become lost in.’ – Jessie, VIC

‘This book explores the situation in occupied WW2 France and effectively conveys the dangers that those trying to flee faced. Unfortunately, I didn’t particularly care whether the main character made it. Eleanor Gorton Clarke, a successful American author, becomes involved with a mysterious man who is also trying to reach Spain, and they are pursued by a German police officer. Eleanor is not a likable  woman – she has a strong sense of entitlement and her obsession with her appearance leads her to take foolish risks. Her companion is a more sympathetic character but the person I really cared about was the German policeman. He came across as acting as decently as he could in the situation in which he found himself. Overall I found the book to be interesting but not super engaging.’ – Penny, VIC

‘What a great read – a love story but so much more. Part detective thriller, part historical social documentary, part romance, but altogether a real page turner. Such believable characters and situations, and excellent dialogue. They were grim times and life was cheap for many but Lonie manages to highlight those moments that shine out. I have to say that I was surprised the author is a man – his female characters are so well constructed. A satisfying ending too, with only one regrettable murder!’ – Victoria, VIC

‘The Woman from Saint Germain by J. R. Lonie is a well-written historical novel that depicts the perilous nature of the wider effects of war. Set in the 1940’s amidst the devastation of World War II, readers follow the story of author Eleanor Gorton Clarke and her desperate attempt to flee a German occupied Paris with the help of a young German soldier. While our main protagonist Eleanor has few redeeming qualities to begin with, as the narrative progresses so too does her character and readers become invested in seeing her find her safety. Lovers of historical fiction will certainly enjoy this tense tale, and will appreciate the detail Lonie has included. Thank you #BRPreview as well as Simon & Schuster Australia for my advanced copy!’ – Sarah, VIC

‘I loved being taken on this journey with Eleanor, I felt as though I was right there with her. The trials and tribulations she endures only see her hold tight to her pride and self worth. All through being forced to fully place her trust into the hands of strangers, to assist her in fleeing Nazi-controlled France.’ – Rebecca, TAS

‘The Woman from Saint Germain by J.R. Lonie is set during the German occupation of France in World War Two, and follows the story of an American writer in Paris. Eleanor is an astute and assertive expatriate writer in the midst of war. This book combines a visceral love of books (James Joyce) and history. I was immersed from the beginning as I traveled the crowded trains, cemetery, bookshop and cafes with Eleanor. Well written and enjoyable. Good for reading on the train!’ – Jenny, SA

‘I have to admit that this book was not for me, I made it to page 311 before skipping to the end to see how it ended. I loved the premise of the story, historical fiction is a favourite, but the main character was beyond naive and completely self absorbed along with doing the most ridiculously stupid things throughout the story. I kept waiting for her to grow up, but it never happened. I’m sure others will enjoy it more.’ – Claire, WA

‘I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I really loved the cover and really wanted to love the book. Unfortunately it didn’t live up to is promise. The story-line was interesting but I didn’t really warm to the characters. I actually found them annoying. What I liked most about the book was its historical aspect, I really enjoy historical fiction, but even this wasn’t enough for me to rate the book higher.’ – Jodie, WA

‘Eleanor, a glamorous romance novelist still living in France after the death of her French lover, finally decides to leave when life under German occupation becomes dangerously difficult. Due to circumstances she finds herself on the run from the Nazis (and a dogged German detective) with an unlikely (and at first unlikable) foreigner, trying to make it across the Spanish border. He has a lot more to his story, and through their journey acrimony turns to attachment. There’s a twist toward the end that I never saw coming, and this intriguing book just leaves me wanting more (I keep wondering – what happened next?). Thanks Better Reading for the chance to experience an amazing book I probably otherwise would never have looked at twice!’ – Ayesha, NSW

‘Lots of research went into this book to create an accurate historical account of this period in history. However, the book got off to a very slow start being overly descriptive and providing not much direction as to where the story was headed. The book describes the journey of author Eleanor Gorton Clarke, who is writing her second novel, and her story of escaping Paris to get to Spain, meeting Henk, her rescuer, on the way. The author has spent a lot of time developing the relationship between the characters but this has meant that the book is longer than it probably should have been. I found that I didn’t connect with Eleanor and her mannerisms but the closing chapters of the book made it a worthwhile read if you are a fan of historical fiction and this time in history.’ – Brenda, NSW

‘World War 2 novels are my favourite genre so I was quite excited to read this book, but was somewhat disappointed. Starting in Paris with an American novelist, Eleanor as the central character who is surviving German occupied Paris quite well until Pearl Harbor happens. Eleanor decides to flee to Spain and then travel home to the US. Along the way she meets Henk, a half Jewish German also wanting to flee France to Spain. Eleanor and Henk help each other through many dangerous situations that ultimately make them the focus of a German officer who is an ex-policeman and is hunting them down before they escape to Spain. The book is divided between the German officer and Eleanor’s point of views. The chapters are quite short as they cover very short time periods which seem to draw the story out and became a little tedious. I liked Eleanor’s character but found it hard to empathise with her motivations to help Henk who was a continual thorn in her side. Eleanor turned to her religious faith many times when her actions were questionable, making an interesting contrast in her character.’ – Elizabeth, QLD

‘J.R. Lonie is a well regarded Australian script editor, screenwriter and playwright. He also happens to be one of the writers on A Place to Call Home, a favourite television series of my mine. I was excited to receive a copy of The Woman from Saint Germain, based on my interest in the era (1941) and locale (occupied WWII France). The narration is primarily focused on Eleanor Gorton Clarke, an American woman and writer, who has resided in Paris for many years. When Eleanor decides enough is enough, her beloved Paris is becoming overrun by the Germans, she decides to flee the country for the Spanish border. This is a perilous and eventful journey, full of obstacles and interesting figures. Eleanor becomes acquainted with a dangerous stranger and the twosome find themselves pursued by a determined Wehrmacht detective. Eleanor and Henk make an interesting couple and this story is flagged by love, survival, determination, intrigue, espionage, action, adventure and hope. Marked by a clear timeline (date, time and location) heading each chapter opening, I appreciated this historical fiction timepiece. Don’t forget to check out the insightful author’s note at the end of the book.’ – Amanda, WA

‘Readers of historical romance will love “The Woman from Saint Germain”. The main character is Eleanor, a well-known American author of romantic novels who thought she had experienced great love. She discovers though that she has always been the “beloved” and not the “lover” until meeting a younger, enigmatic man as they both try to escape German occupied France in 1941. The cause of Eleanor’s heartbreak is made more plausible by the historic background. Soldiers on both sides are depicted as basically decent people despite the atrocities that are occurring. This is an entertaining, although at times confronting, read which uses romance to humanise the horrific events of war.’ – Fiona, ACT

‘A beautifully written book with a great description of the time and place. Trying to read out of my comfort genres, I found this story lost its way a little in the second half. The characters irked me a little with their decisions and behaviour. There are definitely people I’d recommend it to who would absolutely love it. For me though, it’s just average.’ – Hanadi, NSW

‘The Woman from Saint Germain is a powerful story of a woman fleeing Paris during the Nazi occupation, and the various trials on the journey. With first class researching obvious in the detail woven through the story, this novel will appeal to all historical fiction fans. The thread of the novel she takes with her being woven throughout the story imbues a connection from start to finish.’ – Alanna, QLD

‘Set in December 1941, The Woman from Saint Germain is a novel blending an American woman in Paris, a mysterious younger man with a deadly secret and a cast of interesting and unexpected characters. I didn’t think I’d enjoy this book as much as I did. Eleanor isn’t someone I typically enjoy reading about. She’s a little snobby, slightly naïve and her history as being ‘the other woman’ didn’t sit well with me. At first. It wasn’t long before I was captivated by Eleanor, Henk and the other people we met along the way. This book is written in such a way that it feels like these could be real people. The dangers they face as they try to escape from Nazi occupied Europe felt authentic and I was anxious as I read their story – the way a good book draws you in and leaves you hanging with anticipation. This is one of those books that will keep you guessing but leave you feeling satisfied when you reach the end.’ – Kate, QLD

‘It is 1941 and Eleanor Gorton Clark is living a life of relative privilege in Paris. A wealthy American citizen, she has so far escaped the suffering of so many other Parisians. This changes overnight with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the imminent declaration of war on America. Like many of her friends, she realises she needs to get out of France and fast! Entrusted with a valuable copy of Finnegan’s Wake, Eleanor joins a disparate group in order to cross into the unoccupied zone. J R Lonie brilliantly depicts Eleanor’s precarious journey. After a fateful encounter with a Nazi patrol, Eleanor and her mysterious young companion Henk are pursued by the German police across the border. Forced to rely on each other with the risk of betrayal constant; they cannot trust the gangsters they paid to help them escape. Meticulous research and a tightly structured plot underpin this novel. I would have like to have had a map to better understand their flight across France. The Women from Saint Germain presents a vivid picture of life in Nazi-occupied France – the misery, ever present hunger and the fragility of life.’ – Terese, TAS

‘Two of my favourite things: historical fiction about WW2, and written by an Aussie author. I did find the beginning of the book a bit hard to get into and restarted reading but once Major Krolow (a German) wanted to buy the first edition of James Joyce’s ‘Finnegan’s Wake’, and it was not for sale, I got hooked. I was yelling in my head “Give him the book… you’re going to die…what are you thinking woman!”. And so the adventure begins of an arrogant American woman, Eleanor, trying to escape France by heading south into Spain. And along the way she meets Henk with his little kitten and they become a team. All up I enjoyed the book and thought both Henk and Bauer (the German officer chasing the main characters) my favourites. The narrative by Eleanor and Bauer kept the pace of the book flowing. I didn’t think their adventures were believable but I wasn’t there during the war. I enjoyed reading how the locals along the way help Eleanor and Henk escape the Germans through France. All up, it was an easy read that got you thinking about the past and how people survived during a very dangerous time in our past.’ – Maria, SA

‘Thank you to Better Reading Preview and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read “The Woman from Saint Germain”, by J.R. Lonie. Before I begin, I will confess that historical novels are not one of my preferred genres. Thus, I anticipated that reading this novel may be challenging for me, and this proved to be the case. This, however, is not a reflection on the quality of the novel. “The Woman from Saint Germain” follows the plight of Eleanor, an American writer living in Paris in 1941, who embarks on a dangerous quest to escape to the Spanish frontier. When her life is saved by a stranger, Henk, resulting in the death of two German soldiers, the danger intensifies. Eleanor and Henk are pursued relentlessly by Bauer, who sees the faces of his own sons in those of the deceased soldiers. While I initially found the pace of the novel frustratingly slow, the tension built as the plot progressed. I particularly liked the sections that were written from the point of view of Bauer. As I approached the end of the novel, I found myself unable to put it down, needing to know the outcome, which did not disappoint.’ -Alison, QLD

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11 April 2019

Podcast: J.R. Lonie on writing, screenwriting and strong female characters

    Exciting, liberating: J.R. Lonie, author of The Woman from Saint Germain, talks love in a time of war


    2 April 2019

    Exciting, liberating: J.R. Lonie, author of The Woman from Saint Germain, talks love in a time of war

      War, Love and Literature: Q&A with J.R. Lonie about his new novel, The Woman from Saint Germain


      11 March 2019

      War, Love and Literature: Q&A with J.R. Lonie about his new novel, The Woman from Saint Germain

        Perfectly Paced Historical Tale: Read an extract from The Woman from Saint Germain by J. R. Lonie


        8 March 2019

        Perfectly Paced Historical Tale: Read an extract from The Woman from Saint Germain by J. R. Lonie

          Taut, Thrilling War Tale: Review of The Woman from Saint Germain by J.R. Lonie


          5 March 2019

          Taut, Thrilling War Tale: Review of The Woman from Saint Germain by J.R. Lonie

            J.R. Lonie
            About the author

            J.R. Lonie

            J. R. Lonie is otherwise known as John Lonie, a screenwriter, playwright and script editor whose credits include some of Australia’s top TV dramas and films. He was head of screenwriting at the Australian Film Television and Radio School for seven years, during which he also co-wrote the feature film Kokoda. He is one of the writers on the popular television series, A Place to Call Home.  He is presently working on his next novel. He lives in Brisbane.

            Books by J.R. Lonie


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