The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel
Gallery Books, 2018. Hardcover, 400 pages.
Reminiscent of both historical fiction successes The Nightingale and Lilac Girls, The Room on Rue Amelie is both a coming of age and romance novel set in World War II Paris. It follows the lives of three people: Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas. Ruby left the United States for Paris after marrying a Frenchman. Charlotte was Ruby’s young neighbor and a Jew. Thomas was an RAF pilot. Their paths intersect one night in a way that chances each person’s life.
In the early years of the war, the Nazi’s are tightening their grip on Paris. Ruby’s husband is killed working on an escape line for downed pilots and Ruby finds herself taking his place. Charlotte is just ten when the novel opens and finds her life upended when the Nazi-imposed anti-Semitic rules are enforced. Then one day, Thomas finds his way to Ruby’s doorstep looking for help and the two women band together to do so. That night changes the life of each forever. Ruby’s role in the resistance grows, eventually taking Charlotte with her down that path after she takes the girl in to raise as her own. Thomas returns to the skies only to wish himself back with Ruby. Lucien is introduced as another freedom fighter and befriends Charlotte. How will the war end for each of them? Who will be captured?
This novel was bittersweet. In the introduction, it is inferred that someone does not live past the war and the ending that reveals who is a tearjerker. Harmel’s writing flowed easily and drew readers in, however there were some historical inaccuracies I hope are corrected between the advanced reader copy I read and the final version. In terms of depth, in this novel, that is mostly in the relationships formed throughout and less with the historic details. In the two books I (and others) compared this to have a greater balance of both. That said, that depth between the characters ran deep, so those enjoying those types of novels will enjoy this one.
Do you think you will read this novel? Have you read anything else that may be similar to recommend?
This review is based on an advanced reader’s copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley. It will be released on March 27, 2018.