XOXperts Review: The Room on Rue Amélie by Kristin Harmel
Title: The Room on Rue Amélie
Author: Kristin Harmel
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: Paperback ARC
Source: XOXO After Dark
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This book was dropped into my hands at the perfect time. I had been craving a historical read, and this was an exceptional choice. I was enraptured by Harmel’s last historical novel, and while this one didn’t beat out When We Meet Again for the top spot, it certainly holds a special place in my heart.
The author’s note reveals that this book was inspired by the story of a real-life woman, a true heroine. Knowing that makes Ruby’s story and this novel that much more special. Paris is where Ruby is meant to be, and the events that follow and her impact on other people’s lives shows just that. Her struggles and optimistic soul gives her character such emotional poignancy. The character of young Charlotte is just as impactful. Her harrowing story produces so much sympathy and can resonate with readers.
This story has a heartbreaking tone, of course, but at the same time it is extremely hopeful. There are a few different stories being told here and it works so well. I don’t know what it is about this genre, but it works perfectly. Ruby and Charlotte, especially, are two of the strongest and bravest characters in this novel. I loved their relationship, and it’s a fine example of when something beautiful can blossom from a devastating moment in history.
There’s a bond that is slowly created the deeper into the story you get. This book begins pre-war which allows the time to get to know the characters on a pretty blank slate. As the story becomes more intense and the situations get more dire, which gives it a fast-paced feel, you begin to care for them. They must endure heartache, tragedy, and distress in the time of war. Somehow in the middle of all that, love and hope shines through to keep them going.
You can’t help but be drawn to these characters and the magical writing. There is a lot of historical knowledge that lends weight to the story and is interesting to learn. I highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and Kristin Harmel. March is ways away, but get this pre-ordered now and be ready to dive in.
Kristin graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications. She has lived in Paris, Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Miami and now resides in Orlando, Fla., with her husband, Jason.