Escape from Paris
by Carolyn Hart
Cover Artist: Ocean Photography / Veer
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Seventh Street Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616147938
Date: 11 June 2013 List Price $13.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
The novel opens with an American woman living in Paris shortly after the German Army invaded in 1940 and two British soldiers that are attempting to escape German-Occupied France. One soldier escapes from a hospital and the other is downed RAF pilot that makes his way through the French countryside with the aid of local farmers. The lead German in charge of catching and prosecuting the soldiers and their helpers is a classic, almost stereotypical, Nazi.
Linda, an American lives with her sister Eleanor, who is married to a Frenchman. Linda and Eleanor work for the International Red Cross and visit hospitals around Paris and deliver care packages to soldiers, predominantly French, during their recovery before they are transferred to prison as POWs. On one visit, Linda meets a British soldier who is almost recovered from his wounds. He knows he will soon be transferred to prison and asks Linda to help him escape. Linda decides to help and her family hides him at their apartment in Paris.
At first, Linda is afraid that her sister will disapprove, but Eleanor welcomes the soldier and is glad to help the war effort. They realize that by helping British soldiers, they are indirectly fighting against the Germans. To help the first soldier, they become part of the network that moves the soldiers out of Paris. The second soldier is injured when he arrives in Paris. During his recovery he is a great assistant to help counsel the other soldiers as they pass through since they are often shocked, bitter and angry.
The meat of the story is the network. I was fascinated and on the edge of my seat as the soldiers and Frenchmen work together for the rescue. The Frenchman helping the soldiers are under penalty of death if they are caught by the Germans, and they work out excellent signals to go undetected. They are careful to avoid names, so that if one is caught, he/she cannot give up the others even under coercion. Discovering their methods and their narrow escapes is incredibly suspenseful and makes Escape From Paris fun to read.
I have read lots of WWII fiction and recently I started reading books that take place in parts other than Germany just to gain perspective. Escape From Paris does not disappoint. Call me uninformed if you wish, but I did not realize that the Third Reich only controlled part of France. The book describes how some Frenchmen are still loyal to the old government that still controls Southern France, while others are pro-German.
The most interesting thing I learned is the term phony war. Between the time that Europe declared war against Germany in 1939 and the invasion of France, not much really happened and many Europeans thought the war was phony. Of course they learned differently when the German Army invaded France in 1940, and shortly after the invasion is the time period of Escape From Paris.
I am a little disappointed in the lead Nazi character, Major Eric Krause. He is stereotypically evil. He looks evil, acts evil, and has no empathy for anyone and the characters keep talking about his evil green eyes. In the books I have read, there seem to be two types of Nazi officers. Either they are absolute evil, like Major Krause, or they are the ambivalent Nazis. The second type has either lost faith in the party and the war effort, or only joined the effort because they thought their lives would be safer in the party than on the outside.
Suspense is the best word to describe Escape From Paris and I loved the novel. I highly recommend it.