While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart is a powerful historical novel that will break your heart.
The action is mainly set in occupied Paris in 1944 and in Santa Cruz in 1953. The voices alternate within the chapters.
This is a novel about the great love for a child. It is a love that is self-sacrificing as needs are put aside to do whatever is best for the child.
Occupied Paris was a terrible place to be. Suspicion lurked around every corner. Trust was in short supply. Terror reigned. “It’s amazing how quickly people learn when taught with fear.”
There were extraordinary acts of great courage performed by ordinary men and women with everything to lose and nothing to personally gain. They acted because it was the right thing to do. In the face of great evil, personal safety was pushed aside.
Part of the story is seen through the eyes of French Jews. Their normal lives exploded when the Nazis marched in. “It [the yellow star of David] immediately changed who she was. People looked at the star, and then at her.” How horrendous to not see the person behind the symbol.
There were some very harrowing scenes set within Auschwitz. There were also tender scenes where people helped others in their fight to survive. Little things could offer great hope. It was to this hope that people clung on to.
America after World War II was seen in complete contrast. It was the land of the free and of opportunity where all men are treated equally – until one day everything changed and suspicion rose its ugly head again.
While Paris Slept consumed me. It was a novel about a deep love – a deep love that would break hearts, including mine. Love is a powerful force, especially when it is self-sacrificing.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.