As anyone in my book club will tell you, I love World War II historical fiction. The Parisians by Marius Gabriel was right up my alley!
The novel follows the life of Olivia Olsen, an American living in Paris, who is literally a starving artist. Her new boyfriend’s mother is able to get Olivia a job as a chambermaid at the Ritz right before the start of World War II. When the war is imminent, Olivia is given a Swedish passport and decides to remain in Paris.
The novel intertwines the fictional Olivia into the lives of real people including Coco Chanel, and the famous french actress Arletty who was bisexual. When the Germans overtake Paris, the elite Gestapo members, including Hermann Göring, move into the Ritz and Olivia becomes his chambermaid. Olivia then connects with the French Resistance and passes on valuable information she gathers from the hotel.
Through Olivia’s eyes, the reader learns how Coco Chanel, Arletty and many wealthy Parisians got in bed (both literally and figuratively) with the Germans during World War II. There is a female Gestapo officer whose character is closely based on the real-life French athlete, Violet Morris.
This is a very believable story about the roles that three strong women (Olivia, Coco, and Arletty) played in World War II. 5-stars. Book Club recommended.
And now for my Recipes For Readers Recommendation:
Julia Child’s Fondue de Poulet à la Crème [Chicken Simmered with Cream and Onions]. This is one of my favorite chicken dishes! I hope you will try it.