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Monday, May 22, 2023

Review: The Paris Maid

Title: The Paris Maid
Author: Ella Carey

Publisher: 6th April 2023 by Bookouture

Pages: 270 pages

Genre: historical fiction, women’s fiction 

My Rating: 4 crowns


London, present day. I open my phone to find a message from my aunt: a black-and-white photograph with the caption “Paris, 1944”. A young woman stares up at me, her head shaved and a swastika painted onto her forehead. As I try to take in what I’m seeing, my heart begins to race. Could this be my beloved grandmother, branded a traitor?

Devastated Nicole Beaumont, a devoted schoolteacher, questions why her adored grandmother never spoke about her life during the war. Her unwavering love and protection taught Nicole lifelong lessons about loyalty and family, so this revelation rocks her very core. About to start a family of her own, Nicole sets out for Paris in search of answers.

But in war, nothing is simple and what Nicole discovers will alter the course of her life forever…

Paris, 1944. When Louise started working as a housemaid at The Ritz Hotel, she never imagined that the most powerful Nazis in France would make it their home. As she changes silk sheets and scrubs sumptuous marble bathtubs, she listens and watches, reporting all she can to the Resistance.

But when a stranger appears in the hotel’s ornate glass doorway, she has never been so scared—the secret she’s been keeping is suddenly in danger of breaking free.

Can Louise fight for freedom whilst keeping those she loves safe? Or will she be cast aside as a traitor by the very same people she is risking her life to protect?

Inspired by true events, fans of Fiona Valpy, The Nightingale and Rhys Bowen will love this heart-shattering historical novel. From top-ten bestseller Ella Carey, The Paris Maid is a totally gripping story about love, betrayal and a shocking family secret hidden for a generation.

My Thoughts

‘Who could be more invisible than a maid?’

I love Ella Carey books. She is one of those authors who you don’t even have to read details about the book because you know you will read anything of hers whatever the topic. The Paris Maid centers on The Ritz hotel in Paris during WWII with a group of resistance fighters operating right under the Nazis who are guests of the hotel.

It is a dual time narrative. Firstly, the past returns to the summer of 1944 with a number of characters: Louise, a maid at The Ritz who assists with The French Resistance, her family and some Allied fighter pilots shot down and forced into hiding. The contemporary timeline tells the tale of Louise’s granddaughter who is trying to research her grandmother's hidden past.

‘… the Ritz is not just any magnificent hotel. The Swiss-owned hotel is officially neutral, but the reality is everyone is tied to one side or the other, sometimes both.’

This was not one of my favourite books from Ella. To my mind, there were too many characters which did not allow me to bond satisfactorily with any one individual or couple. It also meant you had to pay attention to exactly whose point of view was taking place. I also feel that the contemporary timeline fell somewhat flat and was only there to serve the purpose of historical discovery. Whilst there was a great twist and the epilogue filled in all the gaps, I just somehow wished to have dived deeper with some characters and events earlier in the read. 

The Paris Maid is the latest novel from historical fiction author Ella Carey. It’s an emotional exploration of themes such as love, courage, betrayal, family and provides a unique insight into those who worked at the Ritz Hotel in Paris during the Nazi occupation of France.

‘This was a time of history that seems incredible to us now, and yet that is only a whisper of a generation away … the best thing we can do is to understand, and to honor the members of our family who fought so hard for our freedom.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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