Paris, 1944: the city steams in the summer heat, bristling with anticipation of its impending liberation. It marks the beginning of the end of a devastating war…and the beginning of a year like no other for Marie-Therese Brillard and her children, Colette and Christophe. They first came to Paris from Martinique in 1928, among the immigrants of color who flocked to France in the 1920s and 30s. They settled in Montmartre, a vibrant neighborhood teeming with musicians, writers, and artists, and began the arduous task of building a new life in a new land. The rigors of World War II only added to the adversity beneath which Marie-Therese struggled. Its culmination should offer her relief, and yet…
When Colette and Christophe are swept up in the jubilation following the Nazis’ departure, each embarks upon a passionate love affair that Marie-Therese fears will cost them their dreams—or their lives. Twenty-year-old Colette begins a dalliance with a white Frenchman, a romance forbidden for the quadroon child of an immigrant. Her older brother Christophe becomes the lover of the beautiful wife of a French freedom fighter, a relationship Marie-Therese suspects can only end in heartache and bloodshed. Adding yet another complication is the man she calls Monsieur Lieutenant, the handsome black soldier whose mere presence intrigues Marie-Therese as no man has before.
Set against the turbulent backdrop of wartime France, Paris Noire is a dramatic and engrossing novel that brings to vivid life the remarkable people once relegated to the fringes of history.
Review: A historical romance that uses Paris and the German occupation of it during World War II as a backdrop. The main thrust of the story is from the Black (therefore Noire in the title) point of view both during and after the war. The storyline also shows the importance of the Black Americans role in the war.
The Brillards are the main characters and each of the three, mother Marie-Therese, son Christophe and daughter Colette is involved in a love story. The mother is a very strong person and things from Marie-Therese’s past which define her are alluded to but never fully explained. This is disappointing since her beliefs shape her relationship with both her son and daughter especially when they fall in love with a white French man or woman and her reaction to this. Her motto was “Maman is always right!”
The story was a little confusing because of the French and patois (the language spoken in her childhood in Martinique) thrown in during the writing. Several times I had to reread a passage to get the flow of the storyline again. I didn’t expect the book to end where it did. The storyline of Paris Noire seemed like it could have gone on a little longer for a more satisfactory conclusion. There were several loose ends that easily could have been wrapped up by they end of the book and therefore created a more interesting and less choppy finish.
I have never read anything by Francine Thomas Howard before. I would give another of her books a try to see if I like her writing style any better.
Favorite Quote: “There is a woman out there for your son. A woman who will love him with all her heart. A woman, who like you, will make the worst of his pain go away. A woman, like you, Marie-Therese, who can make him want to live again. If you can, find your boy such a woman.”