Paris 1944. To save her people, she served the enemy.
In enemy-occupied Paris, as the locals go to bed starving and defeated by the war, music and laughter spills through the door of a little restaurant, crowded with German soldiers. The owner Marianne moves on weary feet between its packed tables, carrying plates of steaming, wholesome food for the enemy officers. Her smile is bright and sparkling, her welcome cordial. Nobody would guess the hatred she hides in her heart.
That night, the restaurant closes its doors for the final time. In the morning, the windows are scratched with the words ‘traitor and murderer’. And Marianne has disappeared without a trace…
Years later, Marianne’s granddaughter Sabine stands under the faded green awning, a heavy brass key in her hand, staring at the restaurant left to her by the grandmother she never met. Sabine has so many questions about herself. Perhaps here she can find answers, but she knows she isn’t welcome. Marianne was hated by the locals and when Sabine discovers they blamed her for the terrible tragedy that haunts the pretty restaurant, she is ready to abandon her dark legacy.
As she digs into the past, she starts to wonder: was her grandmother a heroine, not a traitor? What happened to her after the tragic night when she fled from her restaurant? And will the answer change her own life forever?
A haunting and compelling story of love, strength, and sacrifice in Nazi-occupied Paris as one brave young woman risks everything to save the lives of those around her. Fans of The Nightingale, The Paris Library and The Alice Network will lose their hearts to The Last Restaurant in Paris.
My thanks to Bookouture for the tour invite and copy to review from Netgalley. This was my first Lily Graham book, although I have bought a few previous ones. The premise was something that so interested me – I love WW2 fiction and the mystery of the story appealed greatly, not least because it looked rather different to the usual stories set during that time.
Told over three timelines, including the early 1940s and 1987, The Last Restaurant in Paris is a tragic and engrossing story with love, revenge and retribution being at its heart. Frenchwoman Marianne Blanchet, the owner of the said restaurant known as ‘Luberon’, was regarded as being a collaborator with the Nazis and also a murderer by her fellow citizens. However had they been in knowledge of all the facts, I wonder whether she would have been judged so harshly.
Sabine, her adult granddaughter and in receipt of an unexpected inheritance, knows nothing of her grandmother’s past but with the help of someone who was closer to Marianne than she, sets out to discover why Marianne’s memory is so reviled and what exactly took place that fateful evening. Because of the passage of time, there was no guarantee she would find all the answers but all the way through I was hoping that somehow she would discover her grandmother’s incredible story.
I really enjoyed this and was completely captivated by the entire story however the part for me that stood out the most was Marianne’s story. This was actually my favourite part because you get a real sense of the person and their motivations. It delves into family relationships, the effects of grief, and includes the horrific consequences of the Nazi occupation and the separation of France between ‘free’ and occupied territories.
There are plenty of family secrets to discover in this story of wartime occupation and whilst it is in some ways a heartrending read because you know almost from the outset the consequences of Marianne’s actions, other aspects are gradually revealed which form an enthralling story of secrets and deceit. There are so many characters to sympathise with and the author has done an excellent job in bringing them to life through the pages. Good and evil is not black and white with this story but has shades of grey.
A fabulous read and definitely recommended for readers of this genre.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lily Graham is the author of the bestselling, The Child of Auschwitz, The Paris Secret and The Island Villa, among others. Her books have been translated into numerous languages, including French, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Turkish.
She grew up in South Africa, and was a journalist for a decade before giving it up to write fiction full time. Her first three novels were lighter, women’s fiction, but when she wrote The Island Villa, a story about a secret Jewish community living on the tiny island of Formentera during the Spanish Inquisition, she switched to historical fiction and hasn’t quite looked back since.
She lives now in the Suffolk coast with her husband and English bulldog, Fudge. Her latest book, The Flight of Swallows, set in Denmark and Sweden, will be out in January 2021.
Follow the author