The Paris Maid by Ella Carey
Paris, 1944. “Traitor!” yells the crowd as they push me down onto a stool. “Nazi collaborator.” Tears blur my vision as the razor grazes my scalp, waves of blonde hair falling to the ground. As men paint a swastika across my face, I hold onto one small glimmer of hope. They have no idea who I am.
Louise Basset works as a housemaid at The Ritz Hotel, home to the most powerful Nazis in France. As she changes silk sheets and scrubs sumptuous marble bathtubs, she listens and watches, reporting all she can to the Resistance. The only secret she never tells is her own.
Everything changes for Louise on the day a young Allied pilot, hunted by the Nazis, is smuggled into the hotel. As he and Louise share a small carafe of red wine hidden amongst her cleaning bottles, she feels her heart begin to open. But if Louise trusts someone with the truth, what will happen?
Years later, her granddaughter Nicole looks up at the ornate façade of the infamous Paris hotel. She is reeling from her recent discovery: a black-and-white photograph of her grandmother as a young woman, head shaved, branded a traitor. Devastated by her new legacy and about to start a family of her own, Nicole searches for answers.
When a French historian calls Louise by a different name, Nicole realizes there must be more to her grandmother’s story. Was the woman who taught Nicole so much about family and loyalty a resistance fighter, or will her granddaughter have to live with the knowledge that she is descended from a traitor? And will Nicole be able to finally move forward with her life if she can uncover the truth?
An utterly heart-shattering and gripping novel about love, betrayal and how one courageous young woman paid a terrible price to save those she loved. From top-ten bestseller Ella Carey, fans of Fiona Valpy, The Nightingale and Rhys Bowen will never forget The Paris Maid.
I’ve been a fan of Ella Carey’s writing since reading Paris Time Capsule, and never fail to get excited when she releases a new book. I wasn’t disappointed with The Paris Maid, which is another immersive read with characters who drew me in to their stories.
Paris is coming to the end of its Occupation, and I loved the sense of nervousness Ella created amid the excitement. The Resistance is active, many Germans have left Paris, but the Nazi’s have not given up. There are still arrests, French citizens are still hiding the allies, danger is all around. In the midst of this, the mysterious Louise keeps cleaning the rooms at the Ritz, rooms occupied by Nazi’s, by French long-term residents and others, hidden in plain sight.
Many years later, for a family fractured by hidden truths, the question that needs to be answered is who was Louise? The maid who worked at the Ritz. The mother who hid her history from her daughters. The loving granny who Nicole misses now she is expecting her first child. As Nicole puts all her energies into reconnecting her family ties and untangling the lies, it was the dramatic twists in the plot that I really enjoyed. The surprise directions Louise’s story took kept me guessing, and discovering the truth as the emotional story revealed itself was a treat to look forward to at the end of the day.
If you enjoy the suspense of historical fiction set during The Occupation, I’m sure you will feel at home in the pages of The Paris Maid.
You can read my reviews of some of Ella’s previous novels here:
Listen to a sample here
Ella Carey is the international bestselling author of The Things We Don’t Say, Secret Shores, From a Paris Balcony, The House by the Lake, and Paris Time Capsule. Her books have been published in over fourteen languages, in twelve countries, and have been shortlisted for ARRA awards. A Francophile who has long been fascinated by secret histories set in Europe’s entrancing past, Ella has degrees in music, nineteenth-century women’s fiction, and modern European history. She lives in Melbourne with her two children and two Italian greyhounds who are constantly mistaken for whippets.
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