The Paris Secret – by Natasha Lester – independent book review – Historical Fiction (England)

What you have with THE PARIS SECRET is a compelling, fast-moving, plot-driven historical novel, with lots of twists and turns. The writing is competent, the characters are ALL fabulously attractive, but the character development is limited. Awarded four stars on Goodreads which is a bit of a gift.

Like so many other historical novels these days, the novel presents two stories, unfolding in parallel, where the connection between the two is slowly revealed:
• The first story begins in the late 1920s with two sisters, Skye and Liberty, growing up along the ocean in Cornwall, England and the close friendship Skye makes with a neighbor’s nephew, Nicholas. Nicholas soon returns to the United States for school and he and Skye don’t meet again until World War II, where both are pilots. Limited by her gender, Skye shuttles planes between military bases while male pilots like Nicholas do the actual war work.
• The second story takes place in our current era. It concerns Kat, an Australian, recently divorced fashion conservator and mother of two — and her encounter with an author researching a book on World War II espionage he believes may involve Kat’s grandmother.

For me, the most interesting aspect of this book was learning more about important government work women did during the war, especially the dangerous intelligence work some got involved with. At the same time, men and women were treated SO differently, regardless of the work they were doing or their skill levels. The discrimination against women is consistent and overt and Skye and the women pilots she works with must tolerate all sorts of abuse and testing.

Be prepared however. There are some very difficult passages to read which describe the brutal life of prisoners in the concentration camp of Ravensbrück, a camp which housed only women.

The connection with early fashion designs by Christian Dior is played up in the book’s description. But I did not find it at all necessary to the main plot. Be sure to read the author’s note at the end which explains why Natasha Lester included them. Overall, I’d put this in the category of good beach read.

Natasha Lester

More about Australian author, Natasha Lester.

You may be interested in my reviews of other books by Natasha Lester:

The Three Lives of Alix St. Pierre

The Paris Orphan

The Paris Seamstress