It's 1944 and Elise Chevalier is trying to go about her life in Paris during the Nazi occupation. It is painful to see her Jewish neighbors disappearing and she is cautiously trying to help behind the scenes. Sebastian Kleinhaus is a young German soldier serving as a translator. He detests the leadership he is forced to serve. He'd much prefer to read books and poetry and has found refuge in a local Paris bookstore. When Elise meets Sebastian, she is filled with hatred but comes to understand the true man behind the uniform. In Brittany, 1963, eighteen-year-old Josephine Chevalier had been raised by single-mother Elise. Her deceased father was a French war hero. While looking through papers of her mother's, she comes across a book of poetry that appears to be from someone other than her father. A man whose name begins with "S". Josephine realizes that her mother has been keeping parts of her past hidden from her.
Having been moved by Ruth Druart's previous World War II-era novel While Paris Slept, I was anxious to read The Last Hours in Paris and it did not disappoint. I was pleased to find that this book offers a unique and moving perspective from this period in history. The complex character of Sebastian, inspired by a relative of the author, was an ordinary man who was required to join the Hitler Youth and yearned to have a choice in what he could believe in. His love of Elise became everything to him but a relationship between the two was a forbidden one. This is a very emotional story about the many victims of war, the cost of following your heart and the bond between a mother and a daughter. Druart raises many questions and there are no easy answers. In a large field of World War II themed novels, this is one to check out.
Rated 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: July 19, 2022.
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