Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Review: The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel

The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel
Release date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 400

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Goodreads Giveaway
Links: Author • Goodreads • Amazon 

Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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.

THE ROOM ON RUE AMELIE was a beautiful story of three inspiring individuals during World War II in Paris. I had recently read Kristin Hannah's THE NIGHTINGALE and had seen some critiques that they were extremely similar (in plot, not to mention author's name!). I will admit there were several similarities to aspects of the story, but these were only in the historical sense, not in the characters or writing style. I have always been interested in historical fiction that brings to life a place and period that I am not all that familiar with. While I have read a multitude of books on World War II, I have not come across many stories of Paris and the experiences of people there. 

I don't want to get into the intricacies of the plot of THE ROOM ON RUE AMELIE, because I think it is worthwhile to go into this book not knowing much about the characters. I will say that this novel focused on three people: Charlotte, Ruby, and Thomas. Charlotte and Ruby are living in Paris at the start of the war and Thomas is training as a fighter pilot. Their stories were told in alternating chapters, which is something I am not always a fan of, but each of these characters was extremely developed and I didn't have any trouble fully immersing myself in each individual's narrative. Their experiences are fairly interconnected and we are able to see the characters from various perspectives. 

It is always difficult to read a book with characters going through particularly tough and tragic situations, and Harmel did an excellent job of bringing the reader into the setting right alongside the characters. She has a unique and vivid method of writing and I was able to finish this book in just one day. Some might go into this story expecting it to be only focused on history and the struggles of the characters, but romance was also a key aspect of THE ROOM ON RUE AMELIE. I think the beautiful relationships formed in this novel made it even more enjoyable for me. Not only romantic relationships, but friendships as well were beautifully crafted. 

I highly recommend THE ROOM ON RUE AMELIE for anyone interested in historical fiction and I am eager to read what Kristin Harmel writes next. 

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