Cover Image: While Paris Slept: A powerful novel of love, survival and the endurance of hope

While Paris Slept: A powerful novel of love, survival and the endurance of hope

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Member Reviews

Many others have written wonderful resumes of this book so there is no need for more. I just want to add my praise as this will go down as one of my top reads of the year.

The characters were well described and developed. Very emotional and realistic. 

 It kept me gripped and for once the ending was not too rushed or trivial. Recommended!
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I've just finished this wonderful book and I have to admit the last few pages had me in tears. It is a beautifully written story about loss, home, war and both the evil and the goodness of human beings. 
A French Jewish couple David and Sarah try to escape Paris during the occupation but get caught and deported to Auschwitz. Sadly Sarah had given birth only hours before they were forced to flee. At the station she realises the impossibility of keeping her baby alive on the journey and in the unknown future, so she presses him onto the chest of a railway worker - also French - who she trusts because of his face and his deformed hand. Then the story evolves as Jean-Luc and his new girlfriend Charlotte make the brave decision to smuggle the baby out of France and over to the USA.

The story is gut wrenching but never gratuitous and in the end it is life affirming - the beauty that can be found in the worst of circumstances. And the things people to do survive - and to protect those they love. 

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This is the very emotional story of Jean-Luc, Charlotte and Sam.  It is told in two timelines.  First of all is the story of occupied Paris in 1944.  Jean-Luc is a railway worker and is forced to work at Drancy, near to a camp where Jewish people are being held.  The trains leave early in the morning and are never seen, but they leave behind debris on the station including clothes and children's toys.  He comes to believe that many people are passing through and that perhaps something terrible is happening to them, but he doesn't know what.  Of course they are being taken to Auschwitz.  He dreams of joining the resistance and doing something to help.  Meanwhile Charlotte is caring for people in a German hospital.  Her friends criticise her for doing so but her mother thinks nursing is a suitable position for an 18 year old girl.  She also wishes she could do more.

An injury brings Jean-Luc and Charlotte together.  Eventually they escape Paris with Sam and start a new life in America.  But all is not as it seems and the past catches up with them.

This is one of those historical novels that is rooted in fact.  The author did a great job describing occupied Paris and what it might have been like to live in the city at that time.  Although Auschwitz is mentioned, it is never the central focus of the novel.  It is a book of survival and hope.  Sam's story is one of a baby born at war time who survives against the odds.  He faces a perilous journey from France into Spain and then enjoys early childhood as a typical American boy.  But then in 1953, at the age of nine, everything changes.

Part of the publishers blurb states that this novel 'reflects on the power of love, loss and the choices a mother will make to ensure the survival of her child'.  These words are a very accurate synopsis of the book.  They are true, not just once at a very significant moment in Drancy, but can be applied again and again throughout.  The book is very cleverly written!  It is an extraordinary debut novel and one for anyone who has enjoyed Sarah's Key or The Tattooist of Auschwitz.  It is a wartime novel (in part) but with a different perspective to others in the genre.

Thank you to NetGalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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A story that will come back in my memory I'm sure; a snapshot of a nearly forgotten time as our parents and grandparents age and people of the future ask 'did these things really happen?'

Enjoyed it immensely, both heartbreaking and heartwarming.
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Whilst I initially enjoyed this book as it progressed I found it overlong and laboured. In the end I scrolled to the end to see what happened without reading the whole thing. The storyline was compelling and the characters well formed.
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Date reviewed/posted: November 13, 2020

When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is once again closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave is upon us,  superspeed readers like me can read 300+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today.

I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

On a platform in occupied Paris, a mother whispers goodbye.
It is the end.
But also the beginning.

Beautiful. Powerful. Unforgettable. A stunning portrait of the brutality of war and the tenacity of love. In the tradition of Virginia Baily's Early One Morning and M. L. Stedman's The Light Between Oceans.

Santa Cruz 1953. Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door.

Paris 1944. A young woman's future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope.

On a darkened platform two destinies become entangled. Their choice will change the future in ways neither could have imagined. Beginning on an ordinary day and ending on an extraordinary one, WHILE PARIS SLEPT is an unforgettable read.

I have really gotten into historical fiction lately and this book is stellar ... just STELLAR. The characters are well fleshed out and wonderful to read about and the historical research is deep and rewarding. It is one of those stories that suck you in - I read it in one fell satisfying swoop: a perfect book to begin your spring reading list with. Just a lovely book. 

As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube  Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🗼🗼🗼🗼🗼 (the closest I could find to La Tour Eiffel)
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I have been reading a lot of World War II books recently. Stories of real heroism and the struggles faced by the survivors of the concentration camps and those that escaped the war.  This book was very thoughtfully written from many perspectives and it was a really good read that was thought provoking yet enjoyable.  Highly recommend.
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What a lovely, but also heartbreaking story.  This is about a couple escaping occupied Paris and starts with their life in America and goes back to the time during the war.
I felt engaged throughout this book, and so torn over who you should side with as you could see both sides of the story.  It was difficult reading about their son and the struggles he was overcoming, but it felt realistic and how parental sacrifice is so heartbreaking.

I would recommend this book, and it definitely showed a different side to the war and how people were perceived trying to survive in an occupied country.
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3.5 stars.
I had a bit of a problem with how Jean-Luc got possession of the baby in the first place (I'm not sure that it could have happened), how he managed to get to Charlotte with the baby without being stopped and also how there was a convenient relative in the French countryside that could help them escape into Spain!
But if you can let these conveniences wash off over you then it is quite the page turner and really makes you think. I couldn't decide which of the parents I had most sympathy with as they had both sacrificed their lives in one way or another for Sam. The ending is a little rushed and clichéd though!
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While Paris slept is a beautifully written, moving story set in Paris in 1944 and 1950’s America.
Jean-Luc Beauchamp’s is a railway worker and is sent to work in Bobigny, doing maintenance work near the transit camp Drancy. When he meets Sarah, who has been taken by the Nazi and she is on her way to the camp.  She fears for her life not only for herself, but for her baby Samuel. She meets Jean-Luc and decides he is a caring man and persuades him to take her baby. Jean-Luc is apprehensive at first but agrees. This action takes him in all sorts of danger crossing the Pyrenees mountains with Charlotte who decides to go with him.
Nine years later Jean- Luc lives with Charlotte in in Santa Cruz California with now Nine-year-old Sam. He is now typical American boy, unaware of his origin. When there is a knock on the door. It’s the Police and they want to arrest Jean-Luc for the kidnapping of Sam or his real name Samuel. His real parents are alive and have been looking for him for all these years.
Thank you Headline and NetGalley for a copy of While Paris slept by Ruth Druart. Wow what can I say this is book for a debut novel it is an amazing book of love, determination, and self-sacrifice. and how far will we go for our children. This is a very emotional story which I adored. I can’t wait to see what the author has in store next. 5 stars from me.
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A heartbreaking novel about choice - or lack of it - about whether nature or nurture is more important in raising a child and whether true love is putting someone else's happiness before your own. Ruth Druart skilfully takes the reader through the most impossible of situations, taking in some of the most difficult events in history and their far-reaching repercussions. The tension in the mountain scenes was palpable and It's impossible to read this book without your loyalties being pulled first one way and then the other. A story that you will not forget for a very long time.
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If I'm being honest, I'm still at a loss of words. This book was one of the most emotional things I've read this year, I tore through it in one sitting and I'm still processing the raw complexity of what I just read. The pacing of this book is fast, we're thrown head first into the story of the main family that we come to known as Jean-Luc, Charlotte and Sam. Their lives seem like any other American families, until we find out the horrors of their past. Immediately I felt for these characters, they were true reflections of real people and I felt every one of their heartaches, breakdowns and struggles. Sam, especially, was uniquely heartbreaking. The time jumps from Post-War, to Pre-War were done in a way that was easy to follow. Often when Historical Fictions jump around I find the timelines confusing, but this one was plotted and written in a way that kept it simple and understandable. The Post-War scenes added character depth that I needed, it provided me with backgrounds to these characters and a way to get to know them before they evolved into the people we meet at the beginning of the story. There's a tangible tension that runs throughout this novel, I was often at the edge of my seat, desperate to know what would happen next. Druart managed to keep me entertained and intrigued the entire way through this novel, so much so I hadn't looked up from my text once whilst reading this. The last 20% or so of this novel was incredibly impactful and will stay with me for a while. This was truly one of the most beautiful and brilliant Historical Fictions I've read in a while, I hope I'll have more Ruth Druart to read in the future, her voice is a welcoming breath of fresh air in this genre.
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I was captivated by this book from chapter one.  It started during the occupation in Paris in 1944 and it was a story of hardship, sacrifice, love and hope.  I was in tears at some stages knowing that whilst this was a story sacrifices like this were really made during this time.  Stunning book that will tug at your heartstrings.
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Wow!!! This book will send you on a rollercoaster of all your emotions. The resilience of people that survived the atrocities of the war is truly amazing.   For one Jewish father & mother in occupied Paris things start to get really bad. How far would you go to protect your child?  Another couple have to flee from Paris during the occupation. These two couples intertwine throughout  the story. It is set during & after the war in the  50s but is easy to follow. Starts off slowly getting to know the different characters then about third of the way through it really comes alive. You can feel yourself getting to grips with the characters & the tensions are running high. Courage & determination shine through with a selfless love that is in abundance. I went through many different emotions reading this book & I have to say I would thoroughly recommend it. Great debut I would certainly read more from this author.
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Mans inhumanity to man is once again put to the fore in this spellbinding book that will give you a rollercoaster of emotions. Although it touches on the holocaust this is only a small part of the story which starts off in occupied Paris in WW2 and continues in the US. After an arduous journey through the Pyrenees mountains, a young French couple continue their journey to the US  and freedom with a baby that they have saved from certain death as it was destined to go to a notorious work camp with it's Jewish mother. The mother handed the baby over just before she was herded onto the train knowing that she might never see it again. The couple settled down to life in the US but have no idea what's in store for them. One thing that they know for sure is that they love the child as their own. A brilliant book that you won't want to put down
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A young couple flee Paris during the occupation in 1944. Jean-Luc Beauchamps works to fix the railways for the Nazi's. Though he doesn't know for sure where the trains are going, he does know that the aim is to "resettle" the Jewish population in Germany. As the rumours of where exactly they are being taken increases, a young woman hands Jean-Luc a newborn baby. Together with his partner, Charlotte, leave behind everything they've ever known and flee over the border into Spain and eventually settle in America with their son, Sam. Life as they now know it comes crashing down as the police turn up at their door and take Jean-Luc in for questioning.

This book is told from alternate perspectives at different time frames, however it is never difficult to understand or remember who is speaking and where that perspective left off.

While Paris Slept is an emotional read exploring themes of grief, sacrifice, resilience and what it means to be a family. The setting of war-torn Paris makes for a very tense and fast-paced read.
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This novel delivers on all its promises: "love, survival and the endurance of hope".  At the heart of the story is the question of how much a mother will do to save and protect her child.  As a Jewish mother in occupied Paris this is a very real problem.  I would not want to give away the plot of this excellent book so will not say more about what happens.  Suffice to say that the characters are believable, the atmosphere is tense and the ending requires tissues.  Highly recommended.

Thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for the opportunity to read this book.
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A young couple flee Paris in 1944 during the occupation to save a babies life. Nine years later they are found in America and their new life is in jeopardy.
A story of hope, sacrifice, love and survival that tugs at your heartstrings.
Thank you to NetGalley and Headline for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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An impressive and pacy debut set in war torn Paris and 50s America. Druart explores sacrifice, love and resilience by looking at the lives of two couples - Jean-Luc and Charlotte, and Sarah and David. How do ordinary people survive extraordinary situations - and what price do they pay for impossible split-second decisions?

The war scenes crackle with tension and the short chapters fly by. Pregnant Sarah - a talented Jewish violinist, and her scientist husband are hounded from their comfortable bourgeois existence and forced into hiding by the occupying Nazi forces. They face a decision which is every parent's worst nightmare. 

Post-war, Jean-Luc and Charlotte's contented existence chasing the American dream is torn apart when the dreaded knock on the door comes. It's one thing making a new future - but what if the past won't let you forget?

As the lives of the couples intertwine, I found myself uncertain how the story would resolve. There were a couple of loose ends I'm still wondering about - a missing letter, a missed chance for Charlotte to see Jean-Luc. Of all the characters I felt sorriest for him. An act of great bravery and courage, and his love for Charlotte saw him treated as a criminal - as the story began with him, I'd have enjoyed seeing his resolved. The other central characters are distinct and well drawn, and Druart conjures the strength of maternal love particularly well.. 

One for fans of 'Sophie's Choice' and 'Sarah's Key' - 'While Paris Slept' is an atmospheric debut about the cost of war and the consequences of love.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers.
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I love WW2/post WW2 novels, and this one is brilliant. A great cast, and a story full of emotion and hope. Would recommend this to anyone looking to lose themselves in a book.
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