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  • Location: Paris

The Paris Secret

The Paris Secret

Why a Booktrail?

1940s, 1960s, 2000s: During war time, especially in a bookshop,” if you looked hard enough for a story you found one”

  • Genre: Historical

What you need to know before your trail

The last time Valerie was in Paris, she was three years old, running from the Nazis, away from the only home she had ever known.

Now as a young woman all alone in the world, Valerie must return to Paris, to the bookshop and her sole surviving relative, her grandfather Vincent, the only person who knows the truth about what happened to her parents. As she gets to know grumpy, taciturn Vincent again, she hears a tragic story of Nazi-occupied Paris, a doomed love affair and a mother willing to sacrifice everything for her beloved daughter.

Can Valerie and Vincent help each other to mend the wounds of the past? Valerie isn’t after a fairytale ending, she only wants the truth. But what is the one devastating secret that Vincent is determined to keep from his granddaughter?

Travel Guide

Paris through the ages

From the start of the novel, when two women meet on a train, to the final word, this is a novel steeped in wartime, memories both happy and sad, Paris streets, a bookshop and a suitcase full of secrets.

The view from the train:

As she walked out of the station, past the press of people , she caught her first sight of Paris, and she felt a stirring of joy, as if there were an effervescent bubble floating beneath their feet, making her step lighter and bolder, chasing away the fatigue of travel. Despite the cold,there was a golden tinge to the air, like the fizz of champagne, and it painted the buildings in an amber- pink glow.”

These are different to her memories of a three year old child when she was running away from the Nazis with her aunt.

The bookstore

(sadly fictional but you can visit Shakespeare and Company to get a feel for it)

But best not get into an argument as they do in the fictional Grigouiller bookshop even if it is about the fictional characters and wondering what kine of punishment Proust deserved…

The bookshop does have its own resident cat – even though it’s a mangy old thing. Some of the old books are just as beaten by life such as the copy of Balzac which has  a bullet through it.The banter with the customers is legendary and the book advice a charm.

The shop, as the city was once under Nazi rule. A nazi officer one day comes to the shop to hand out stars for the Jews to wear.One even comes into take over the running of the shop which is one of the most heartbreaking moments of the book. The shop back in the 1940s has its own story to tell….

Streetview Maps

B) Paris - Ruse Oiseaux and the bookshop!
B) Paris - Shakespeare and Company - bookshop

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

Oh I wanted to live in that shop, pass through the shelves as the book flits through the timelines and hug almost all of those characters. Well the ones in the shop and lovely mr Dupont! The whole story of war time Paris as seen through the shelves and books of that small, quirky bookshop was the most moving story I’ve read ina long while.

The way the threads wove in and out of the periods was magical, as fluid as turning a page, reading Clotilde’s chapter, Mr Dupont and then the present day. The story is one of Paris, Jewish resistance, perseverance and humanity where you least expect it. It’s a unique way of looking at the war and I’ve not read one about the occupation as seen through the customers and owners of a bookstore.

I loved Mr Dupont, Madame Joubert and those warm characters who had done so much behind the scenes and kept heartbreaking secrets all these years. It did read a little like Suite Francaise in parts and if this is a film I  picture Matthias Schoenaerts in the role of Mattaus.

I bawled at one of the later scenes. But by the end I was smiling and crying. I was an emotional mess all round really. Think I need that mangy old bookshop cat to come alive so I have something to cuddle right now.

Booktrail Boarding Pass:  The Paris Secret

Destination : Paris  Author/Guide: Lily Graham  Departure Time: 1940s, 1962, 2000s

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