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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-Thérèse 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 ...
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-Thérèse 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-Thérèse 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-Thérèse fears will cost them their dreams — or their lives. Twenty-year-old Colette begins a dalliance with a white Frenchman, a romance discouraged 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-Thérèse 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-Thérèse 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.
Posted October 28, 2011
Review by JoAnne:
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."
Posted October 6, 2011
I was surprised by this book. The plot centers around Colette and Christophe, two siblings who are trying to make their way in the world during the beginning of the end of WWII. They don't have it easy, many people regard them "black" even though they are not described as very dark at all. This book does contain many mentions of racial prejudice. The author is very delicate with the subject, but the reader will be able to tell she did her research.
This novel isn't just about historical events. There is a star crossed love story as well. Christophe meets and falls hard for a woman named Genevieve. Genevieve, however, is not telling the truth about a very pertinent fact from her past. Even so, Christophe does truly appear to love her, that much will be apparent to the reader. Whenever a relationship is based on lies...
I think the author captured the general feeling of the time very well, as well as how people were reacting to the hard times. The characters overall were very dynamic and interesting. The secondary characters played fairly large parts in the plot at times, somewhat unusual, but it worked. The events were fast-paced, sometimes the reader may want to slow down or look back over a chapter. The ending...well, the ending was the only quality I somewhat hated about the novel....but I suppose that might be the mark of a good author. This book is recommended to adult readers.
Posted September 19, 2011
It's the summer of 1944 and Paris is coming out from her dark Nazi occupation into the glorious light of rebirth. The Brillard family has more to celebrate than most, they immigrated from Martinique years before, descendants of both white French and tribal African and have settled in Montartre an eclectic and forward thinking part of Paris, home to artisans from around the globe, even some Black Jazz musicians and singers from America looking for more equality than was offered at home.
The matriarch Marie-Therese's first and most important role is that of seeing to her children's welfare even though they are grown and in doing so may just miss her one and only chance at happiness for herself.
Collette is in love with her banker boyfriend and they want to marry but she knows that her mother will not be happy that the man she loves is true French.
Christophe meets the woman of his dreams as the city welcomes the American liberators. But happiness is fleeting at best and impossible at worst as this family goes through the highs and lows of love.
Francine Thomas Howard brings this multi ethnic and cultural novel to life in a very personal way as she fictionalizes the story of one of her own Grandmother's in Paris Noire and does so in a way that brings a taste of realism to the tale as we follow the suffering and the blessings of this family. She does this with a dialogue of broken English that let's us not only understand the crisis and prejudice but feel it in the tone of her narrative while at the same time giving it a definite French flavor. Her characters will run the full spectrum from the Free French freedom fighters, to the American GI's, to the ordinary everyday citizens of Paris. Her main characters are constantly pulling our heartstrings because we want the best but know in our heart of hearts that it's not always possible. She uses realistic scenes of violence, lust and love so her readers have a bird's eye view of the happenings.
This is a very different look at WWII and the people who fought and lived through that time. It's also a wake up call that diversity is as natural as a turning leaf in fall and should be celebrated for the immense cultural medley it brings. So if you like your novels based on fact, if you like WWII novels, novels with ethnic tastes and characters or if you're just looking for a great read to take you to a different place. This is your next must read.
Ms, Howard thank you for the first class passage to France and for the adventure once I got there, I'm looking forward to another adventure with you soon.
Posted February 23, 2012
No text was provided for this review.