While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart
A young woman’s future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope.
Santa Cruz 1953
Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi Occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door.
On a darkened platform, two destinies become entangled. Their choice will change the future in ways neither could have imagined…
A powerful and emotional debut novel set in Paris during 1944 at the height of the occupation by the Nazis and Santa Cruz in 1953. While Paris Slept (Headline) by Ruth Druart is strong on characters and time. It will tug at your heart and leave you breathless.
It has taken me a few weeks to try and find the right words to describe Ruth Druart’s breathtaking debut novel but here goes! Drancy which is a few miles from the centre of Paris was synonymous with the holding and transportation of Jews during the Nazi occupation of France. A railway station was close by and trains would be packed with Jews heading for the concentration camps such as Auschwitz would set off from here as the trains left, the platforms would go eerily quiet just leaving the belongings of those to be transported to the death camps and it is here at this station were the novel really begins.
A young Jewish couple are desperately trying to evade the Nazis by escaping but are discovered and arrested and sent to the transit camp in Drancy along with many other Jewish men, women, and children here they will await transportation to Auschwitz.
It is 1944 and Jean-Luc is working on the railways and with the transport trains leaving in the dead of night so there no witnesses to what is going on. When Jean-Luc is woken and taken to the station. From this moment on his life will never be the same ever again. When the wagons holding those to be transported are taken off a young woman thrusts a bundle into Jean-Lucs arms begging him to look after it and keep it safe.
Jean-Luc met Charlotte by chance that same year and now they are both entrusted with a possession that they must keep safe but means they now face real danger and must escape France if discovered they face certain death.
It is now 1953 and Jean-Luc and Charlotte are now living in Santa Cruz in California and they kept their promise to look after that bundle and he is named Sam. But now yet again they face real uncertainty when there is a knock on the door and their lives are torn apart.
While Paris Slept is a novel packed full of emotion, at times it is raw, but also there is incredible love and courage. Jean-Luc and Charlotte are two incredible brave young people filled with love for each other but also desperate to keep the promise and faced danger at every moment.
Ruth Druart takes the reader back to the dreadful events of occupied Paris in 1944 and then to Santa Cruz in 1953 and is beautifully written and crafted. A novel that will make you hold your breath as you turn every page. In the face of unbelievable terror there is hope for the future. Highly Recommended.
My thanks to Headline for the review copy of While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart
While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart was published by Headline Review on 4 March 2021 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org