The Last Hours In Paris by Ruth Druart is a powerful dual timeline novel that consumed me.
The action is set in Paris in 1944 and in a provincial village in 1963. It alternates between the two time periods and from three different points of view. “The past is part of who we are.” It links to the present as it cannot be severed. A lost life is calling with bittersweet memories.
Paris of 1944 was under Nazi occupation. It was a terrifying time. A period of distrust and distress. Lives could be interrupted at any time.
Against this backdrop, love can still bud and blossom. There were pockets of happiness creating warm memories.
Not all Germans were Nazis. We follow some of the action through the eyes of a broken young man, reluctantly conscripted into the Hitler youth, and then the war. At the eastern front he witnessed scenes that cannot be ‘unseen’ and was forever changed.
It was not only the residents of Paris who were held captive. “He wondered what it would be like to be free. To have choices.” We see the desire to just get dressed in ordinary clothes and not to have to put on a Nazi uniform. A deep longing to be just who he was created to be.
There were scenes of extraordinary bravery as ordinary people go the extra mile to help the vulnerable.
We witness the prejudice, judgement and cruelty of the ordinary residents of Paris. As the Nazis move out, the residents appoint themselves judge, jury and executioner of the innocent.
There is a search for roots. We all long to know where we have come from.
The Last Hours In Paris totally consumed me. It was such a powerful read… and it was all about love in its various forms. Grab yourself a copy today, you’ll be glad you did.
I received a free copy from the publishers via Net Galley. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.