I keep telling myself that stretching my mind is good for me. Which explains why I read Until Leaves Fall in Paris when it was offered to me for review.
I’m not the target audience for romance novels. I think it has something to do with my gender.
It isn’t that I am not a romantic and don’t appreciate a love story. I do. However, many romance novels seem to me to be a little far-fetched and formulaic. All fiction requires a certain ability to suspend disbelief. Romances usually take me too far.
Still, the idea of Until Leaves Fall in Paris appealed to me. As a Canadian, my view of the Second World War is colored by my country’s history. I remember being surprised the first time I saw a war Memorial in Belgium that gave the dates of the conflict as 1940-45. It seemed wrong – but that was the Belgian experience.
So too, when I think of occupied France, I don’t think of an English-speaking community in Paris after May 1940. But there was, an American one, as the US didn’t enter the war until December 1941. Sarah Sundin has set Until Leaves Fall in Paris in that time period – between the fall of France and America’s entry into the conflict in December 1941.
My knowledge of the period is more about who fought and won battles. I hadn’t thought about what it was like to live in occupied Paris, to face rationing and see the resistance have its beginnings. I think Sundin does it well, though an American perspective would be, I imagine, very different from a French or German one.
I will admit though I found the love story that is the backbone of this novel a little improbable, but it fits the formula. The bad boy isn’t really so bad, he has secrets…, the girl doesn’t want to be attracted to him… you know how it goes.
Yes I know, I’m not giving away much of the plot. But how much more do you need? There’s a motherless child, a bookstore, some RAF air crew shot down and trapped behind enemy lines, an attempt to sabotage the German war effort – and of course that romance.
Improbable love stories though are what romance novels are all about. Where else would you find a ballerina falling in love with a truck manufacturer, as we do in Until Leaves Fall in Paris? That said, I did find there was an internal consistency as the characters developed. They stayed true to themselves and made decisions in accordance with that.
As well as being a romance, this is a war novel, but the action is behind the lines. Which so often in warfare is the case – the battles are decided by what you don’t see that takes place far away from the front. What you see in this book is only a small fraction of what was happening in Paris at that time.
So did I like the book? After reflection, I think so, overall. But I am not sure if I would seek out any of Sundin’s more than a dozen previous novels. When you come right down to it, it just isn’t what I am looking for when I want to escape into fiction.
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”