Friday, January 25, 2019

Excerpt: Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff


I don't post a lot of excerpts, but I love getting the opportunity to share books that I am really excited to read.  Seriously, read this little bit and tell me you aren't intrigued.  I have posted the summary from Goodreads below, then the excerpt.  I hope you guys are as excited about this book as I am.  I will be posting a review in February, so stay tuned.

Goodreads Synopsis

From the author of the runaway bestseller The Orphan’s Tale comes a remarkable story of friendship and courage centered around three women and a ring of female spies during World War II.

1946, Manhattan

Grace Healey is rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war. One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, she finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a ring of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war, and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances

Lost Girls of Paris

“How long would I have to be gone?” Marie asked.

“That depends on the mission and a variety of other circumstances. You can resign at any time.”

Leave, a voice not her own seemed to say. Marie was into something much bigger and deeper than she had imagined. But her feet remained planted, curiosity piqued. “I have a daughter up near Ely with my aunt. She’s five.”

“And your husband?”

“Killed in action,” she lied. In fact, Tess’s father, Richard, had been an unemployed actor who had gotten by on parts as extras in West End shows and disappeared shortly after Tess was born. Marie had come to London when she was eighteen, fleeing her father’s home, and had promptly fallen for the first bad apple that dropped at her feet. “He went missing at Dunkirk.” The explanation, a morbid lie, was preferable to the likely truth: that he was in Buenos Aires, spending what was left of her mother’s inheritance, which Marie had naïvely moved to a joint account to cover their household expenses when they had first married.

“Your daughter is well cared for?” Marie nodded. “Good. You would not be able to concentrate on training if you were worried about that.”

She would never stop worrying about Tess, Marie thought. She knew in that instant that Eleanor did not have children.

Marie thought about Tess up in the countryside, the weekend visits that wouldn’t happen if she accepted Eleanor’s proposal. What kind of mother would do such a thing? The responsible choice would be to stay here in London, to thank Eleanor and go back to whatever ordinary life was left during the war. She was the only parent Tess had. If she failed to come back, Tess would have no one but aging Aunt Hazel, who surely couldn’t look after her much longer.

“The work pays ten pounds per week,” Eleanor added.

That was five times what Marie made typing. She’d found the best work she could in London, but it hadn’t been enough. Even combined with a second job, the kind that would have kept her from getting up to see Tess at the weekends, she would not have made what Eleanor was offering. She did the calculations. She would have enough to keep up the house even after sending money to Hazel each week to cover Tess’s care and expenses, something that simply was not possible now. She imagined a new dress for her daughter, perhaps even a few toys at Christmas. Tess was unspoiled and never complained, but Marie often wished to give her more of the things she had taken for granted in her own childhood. It wasn’t like she could be with Tess now while she was stuck working in London anyway. And, in truth, Marie was curious about the mysterious adventure Eleanor was dangling in front of her. She felt so useless sitting here in London, typing endlessly. Might as well do some good, make a real difference in the war effort—if, as Eleanor had said, she in fact had what it took.

“All right, then. I’m ready. But I have to phone and let my daughter’s caretaker know that I won’t be coming up.”

Eleanor shook her head firmly. “Impossible. No one can know where you are going—or even that you are going. We’ll send a telegram informing your family that you’ve been called away for work.”

“I can’t simply leave without saying anything.”

“That is exactly what you must do.” Eleanor stared at her evenly. Though her expression did not change, Marie saw a flicker of doubt behind her eyes. “If you aren’t prepared to do this, you can just leave.”

“I have to speak to my daughter. I won’t go unless I can hear her voice.”

“Fine,” Eleanor relented finally. “But you cannot tell her that you are going. There’s a phone in the next room you can use. Keep it brief. No more than five minutes.” Eleanor spoke as though she was in charge of Marie now, owned her. Marie wondered if accepting had been a mistake. “Say nothing of your departure,” Eleanor reiterated. Marie sensed it was some sort of test—perhaps the first of many.

Eleanor started for the door, indicating that Marie should follow. “Wait,” Marie said. “There’s one thing.” Eleanor turned back, the start of annoyance creeping onto her face. “I should tell you that my father’s family is German.” Marie watched Eleanor’s face, half hoping the information might cause Eleanor to change her mind about accepting Marie for whatever she was proposing.

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About Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including the international bestseller The Kommandant’s Girl, which also earned her a Quill Award nomination. Pam lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.

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