Novels about France – my summer reading

I love to read, and I especially love to read novels about France. I wrote about some of the recent books that I had read a while back, but I’ve got a few more to share! If you’re a reader and you love France, you might find these novels interesting and enjoyable.

The Paris Library

A novel set during World War II and based on a true story – the story of the librarians at the American library in Paris. It’s a romance novel, but there is plenty of non-kissy stuff as well. It tells the story of Odile, who has some difficult choices to make while trying to protect the library from the Nazis. The story of Odile’s neighbor Lily in the current day is interwoven with the narrative of 1939. If you don’t like novels that move back and forth in time this won’t be a good one for you, but it’s not at all difficult to follow along. While there are some sad events, it’s not a tearjerker like many of the current crop of WW2 novels.

All the Lights Above Us

Another WW2 novel – it seems that this is a VERY popular period for fiction right now! This one tells the story of 5 different women dealing with the pending D-Day invasion. Each woman has a different situation in life and will experience the invasion differently. One of the women is working for the Nazis willingly, while another is doing her best to sabotage the Nazi war effort. The women are of different ages and social classes, so it really is a nice variety of stories. We look back at D-Day and it feels like a monolithic event – but this book really made me think about how many different effects the invasion had on people.

The School of Mirrors

This book was quite different from the previous two! First, it deals with life during the time of Louis XV rather than WW2. Secondly, the story is told only from the point of view of one character – Veronique. She arrives at a building called the “school of mirrors” and is trained to behave in a certain way. She is to be introduced to a wealthy Polish nobleman, to become his lover. If she behaves properly and keeps the nobleman happy, she will have a life of luxury. Otherwise, she will be sent back home to live in poverty. There is a secret: the Polish nobleman is actually the King of France!

The Stolen Lady

Back to WW2! Actually, this book is another one that goes back and forth between time periods. It tells the story of the efforts to hide the Mona Lisa during the Nazi invasion of France, but it also tells the story of da Vinci’s painting of the portrait in 1479 Florence. Neither time period is safe or calm. 1479 Florence is full of people who want to rise up against riches and excess, and Leonardo isn’t exactly excited about his latest commission. 1939 is the beginning of the Nazi march across Europe, and moving France’s treasures into hidden places for safekeeping is a dangerous task.

The Room on Rue Amélie

A love story that takes place in 1939 France. There are a variety of characters – an American woman who moves to Paris with her French husband, unaware that Paris is about to be invaded; a Jewish girl who is left alone in Paris when her parents are deported; a British pilot who doubts that he’s making a difference. This novel goes back and forth between the different characters and was pretty fast-paced and interesting. I really enjoyed the variety!

The Keeper of Happy Endings

This was probably my favorite novel of the 6. Some of the novel does take place during World War 2, but most of it is in the present day. Soline Roussel is a mysterious French woman who is very reclusive. When artist Rory Grant leases a property that belongs to Soline, they become friends. Rory and Soline have quite a few parallels in their lives, and they unexpectedly become friends. I enjoyed this novel from beginning to end!

If you’re an avid reader and a francophile, these novels about France will be right up your alley! I enjoyed all of them and I’m getting ready to start reading a new one about Eleanor of Aquitaine! I hope to find a few non-WW2 novels, but this seems to be a very trendy thing to write about right now. How about you? Do you have any novel recommendations? If so, leave a comment and I will check them out!

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