Book Reviews · Historical Fiction · Romance

The Room on Rue Amélie by Kristin Harmel – Book Review

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For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls, this powerful novel of fate, resistance, and family—by the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and When We Meet Again—tells the tale of an American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in occupied Paris during the tumultuous days of World War II.
When newlywed Ruby Henderson Benoit arrives in Paris in 1939 with her French husband Marcel, she imagines strolling arm in arm along the grand boulevards, awash in the golden afternoon light. But war is looming on the horizon, and as France falls to the Nazis, her marriage begins to splinter, too.
Charlotte Dacher is eleven when the Germans roll into the French capital, their sinister swastika flags snapping in the breeze. After the Jewish restrictions take effect and Jews are ordered to wear the yellow star, Charlotte can’t imagine things getting much worse. But then the mass deportations begin, and her life is ripped forever apart.
Thomas Clarke joins the British Royal Air Force to protect his country, but when his beloved mother dies in a German bombing during the waning days of the Blitz, he wonders if he’s really making a difference. Then he finds himself in Paris, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and he discovers a new reason to keep fighting—and an unexpected road home.
When fate brings them together, Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas must summon the courage to defy the Nazis—and to open their own broken hearts—as they fight to survive. Rich with historical drama and emotional depth, this is an unforgettable story that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.

I said it from the very first chapter that I was going to be ugly crying as a result of The Room on Rue Amelie (no, seriously, look at my Goodreads review on March 17), and I was completely right. I guess that comes with the territory when reading a historical romance/fiction novel that takes place during WWII.  While that’s always a sensitive topic for me, this story escalated to a new level.  You see, in this first chapter, a nameless narrator is sharing the thoughts and emotions of their soulmate approaching the end of their life and admitting that they aren’t sure how they will survive without her.  I’m tearing up just thinking about it!

I fell in love with Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas (and Lucian once he comes to be). Their characters inspired me, made me question what I could personally do to make a difference in the world. Even though they are all seemingly disadvantaged (an American wife in France who is treated as though she is clueless, an eleven-year-old Jewish girl as the Nazis are overtaking her country, and a British pilot who was shot down in enemy territory), they truly dedicate their lives to the betterment of others. Ruby’s story was particularly inspiring because the author mentioned in a note that Ruby was based on a woman named Virginia who assisted the Allies during WWII in real life. I can’t even being to say how powerful and humbling that is.  Plus, (and I can’t elaborate too much as I’m trying to avoid spoilers), her character was so compassionate, intelligent, and fearless, aiming to make a difference in the world even if it placed her own life at risk.

While I will say that the ending was implausible, it was reminiscent of Nicholas Sparks–truly romantic to the very last page.  I adored this story, and would highly recommend it to everyone…especially those in need of a good cry! Thank you so much to Kristin Harmel and the publisher for providing me with a copy. It was a privilege to provide my thoughts and opinions. Get your own copy here!

Xx,

Kaylie

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