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The room on Rue Amélie
2018
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  Library Journal Review

American Ruby Benoit voluntarily stays in Nazi-occupied Paris to support her French husband but is frustrated by his refusal to confide the details of his wartime activities. Determined to prove that he's wrong to shelter her, Ruby teams up with her Jewish neighbors' precocious young daughter, Charlotte, to defy the Nazis despite the growing risks. The stakes get even higher when Ruby, now a widow, falls for a handsome Allied pilot stranded behind enemy lines. The subject matter of Harmel's (The Life Intended) latest novel overlaps somewhat with recent book club favorites Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly's Lilac Girls but differs in ultimately focusing primarily on the development of a wartime romance rather than on immersive details of life under German occupation or on the tough moral choices required of such a life. She does create likable if somewhat clichéd protagonists. Ruby's journey from sheltered wife to confident heroine is an enjoyable one, even if the book's ending feels more than a little emotionally manipulative. VERDICT Recommended for fans of World War II historical fiction who need a break from some of the grittier titles out there.-Mara Bandy Fass, Champaign P.L., IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Harmel (The Sweetness of Forgetting) injects new life into a well-worn story in this hopeful three-voiced tale about the struggle to find normalcy amid the horrors of WWII. On a damp, blustery afternoon in 1930s New York, Ruby Henderson meets a handsome Frenchman in a cafe. Swept off her feet and into a whirlwind marriage (and relocation to Paris), Ruby quickly learns that her storybook romance may be spoiled by external forces as Europe topples into war. Ruby's story's emotional core is her struggle to establish her own identity and help others who are less fortunate, despite the growing dangers to herself. Harmel treats this subject with great care; although Ruby's story is set in the past, the values by which she lives feel current. Unfortunately, the second narrator, Ruby's young Jewish neighbor Charlotte Dacher, receives wobbly treatment, with a narrative voice that never quite lands. The third major point of view comes from tender-hearted, attractive RAF pilot Thomas Clarke, who helps Ruby's story progress but is insufficiently fleshed out on his own. Harmel's emotionally fraught story hammers home the message that each person has a unique opportunity to stand against injustice. This is a celebration of those, like Ruby, who found the courage to face life head-on. Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
For fans of Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly's Lilac Girls, this powerful novel of fate, resistance, and family--by the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and When We Meet Again --tells the tale of an American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in occupied Paris during the tumultuous days of World War II.<br> <br> When newlywed Ruby Henderson Benoit arrives in Paris in 1939 with her French husband Marcel, she imagines strolling arm in arm along the grand boulevards, awash in the golden afternoon light. But war is looming on the horizon, and as France falls to the Nazis, her marriage begins to splinter, too.<br> <br> Charlotte Dacher is eleven when the Germans roll into the French capital, their sinister swastika flags snapping in the breeze. After the Jewish restrictions take effect and Jews are ordered to wear the yellow star, Charlotte can't imagine things getting much worse. But then the mass deportations begin, and her life is ripped forever apart.<br> <br> Thomas Clarke joins the British Royal Air Force to protect his country, but when his beloved mother dies in a German bombing during the waning days of the Blitz, he wonders if he's really making a difference. Then he finds himself in Paris, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and he discovers a new reason to keep fighting--and an unexpected road home.<br> <br> When fate brings them together, Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas must summon the courage to defy the Nazis--and to open their own broken hearts--as they fight to survive. Rich with historical drama and emotional depth, this is an unforgettable story that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.
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