The Paris Orphan
Book Review - The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester
I almost didn’t agree to read and review this book, and that would have been a mistake. I hesitated because it is 480 pages long and I have anxiety about big commitments to books. This is why I rarely read series of books or books over 400 pages. Does this mean I miss out on a lot of really great books? Absolutely. But there are so many really great books out there that a girl has to filter them somehow…however arbitrary her filter system may be. But the point of all this is, I’m really glad I chose to bite the bullet and read all 480 pages of The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester. To be honest, it didn’t feel like 480 pages. Neither when I held the book in my hand nor the time it took me to read it. The pages were turning so fast that I just didn’t notice the length.
The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester is about Jessica May, based loosely on Lee Miller (who we read about in The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer.) Jessica May is a model turned war photographer during WWII. She makes her way to the front lines to photograph the war not being reported by men. She meets and falls in love with Captain Dan Hallworth who helps her fight for women’s rights to report on the war with the same liberties as male reporters. He gets her access to the front lines and doesn’t discourage her from writing about the darker sides of war. There is a sub plot in the book about D'Arcy Hallworth, a art handler from Austrailia. Her relationship to Jessica May and Captain Dan Hallworth is revealed as we learn more about how Jessica and Dan’s relationship transpired.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Again, there were aspects of WWII included in this novel that we don’t often read about in WWII novels. Namely, the fact that Allied Soldiers raped female civilians. This is a story that Jessica reports on against the wishes of her male superiors. Suicide and PTSD are also discussed in this book, something we acknowledge more today than we had in the past, but this book brings to life how difficult these things were for WWII soldiers. This novel also brings to the forefront how no one believed Hitler’s camps could actually exist until they saw them with their own eyes. The rumors about them were so horrific that most people couldn’t imagine they were real. And then soliders liberated them and saw they were worse than the rumors. Yes, there were a lot of heavy themes, but there is also a great love story to keep you from sinking into despair.