World War II Paris serves as the backdrop for a story of compassion, betrayal, and forgiveness from the national bestselling author of The Wedding Tree...
At her assisted living center in Wedding Tree, Louisiana, ninety-three-year-old Amélie O’Connor is in the habit of leaving her door open for friends. One day she receives an unexpected visitor—Kat Thompson, the ex-fiancée of her late husband, Jack.
Kat and Jack were high school sweethearts who planned to marry when Jack returned from France after World War II. But in a cruel twist of fate, their plans were irrevocably derailed when a desperate French girl overheard an American officer’s confession in a Parisian church...
Now, Kat wants to know the truth behind a story that’s haunted her whole life. She thinks finding out how Amélie stole Jack’s heart will finally bring her peace. As Amélie recalls the dark days of the Nazi occupation of Paris, The French War Bride reveals how history shapes the course of our lives...for better or for worse.
READERS GUIDE INSIDE
About the Author
Reading Group Guide
1. Amélie told Jack, “In war, the concept of ‘right’ stands on its head.” Is there a different moral code during times of war? Where does one draw the line?
2. In Chapter 21, Yvette said, “[Guilt] is the price we pay for being alive during this terrible time.” What does she mean? Do you believe in survivor’s guilt?
3. Amélie learned to lie and keep secrets to help free her country. Is lying always wrong, or are there exceptions? Would it be hard to “turn off” such learned behavior?
4. Pierre thought the Nazis would win the war. Is it human nature to want to align with the winners, or to stand with your fellow countrymen? Why or why not?
5. What was behind Yvette’s decision to become the mistress of a high-ranking German? What do you think of her decision?
6. What do you think of the statement, “In war, we must use everything we have at our disposal. Nothing done to save France would be unholy.”
7. Kat said that her father had never talked about his time during the First World War. Why do think that was? Why did many Second World War veterans not talk about the war once they came home?
8. Do you think Jack would have married Kat as planned if he hadn’t met Amélie? Why or why not?
9. How did it affect the characters in the story to learn that the French government had fled Paris, then surrendered? Can you imagine how it would feel to have your own country overtaken and occupied by a foreign army?
10. Why do you think the French treated the collaborators so cruelly after the war?
11. In Chapter 16, when Amélie doubted that she was serving a useful purpose, Joshua told her that this was not for her to know; she must just believe she was and keep going. How did this advice impact her? Was it wise? Is this advice applicable to your life?
12. All of the women on the bride boats were leaving their families behind and traveling to a foreign land, not knowing when or even if they’d ever see them again. Can you imagine doing this? Why or why not?
13. In what ways does the book illustrate the era’s attitudes toward women?
14. Describe Amélie’s faith journey. Did Kat grow and change? What about Jack?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I lived in Paris 1957 and knew folks there that lived thru the war. This novel was like living there again.
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A historical fiction that ups the ante for me and sets the bar high for how a historical fiction book can be presented and packaged in such a great way. Told as a story by one elderly woman to another about her love story with a man that was the other's ex fiancee. Are you confused? I hope not! It works just perfectly as these two women almost rap battle their love stories in this perfectly put historical fiction set in World War II. Amelie was living in France and trying to avoid World War II when it landed on her doorstep! She goes farther back in her story than meeting Jack to tell his ex fiancee how she got to be with Jack and how their romance occurred. I loved that she took her story WAY far back and seeing the war invade Paris through her eyes was just phenomenal. I have read my fair share of World War II books, but I may be pushing this one to the top.
Stayed up till midnight to finish this novel. Excellent!! Loved the way the author told the story in flashbacks. I even loved the way the reader knew the end. It was the journey to the end that was fascinating. Great characters, romance, war and death, sacrifice and selfishness, wonderful historical details, this novel has it all! Don't miss this book if you are a historical fiction fan!!!! This book deserves more than an A+++++
At her retirement home in Wedding Tree, Louisiana, ninety-one-year-old Amelie O’Connor is approached by Kat Morgan, the ex-fiancée of her late husband, Jack. Although her life has been happy, Kat, now in hospice, has questions that only Amelie can answer. High school sweethearts, Jack and Kat were to marry when Jack returned from France after World War II. Instead Jack returns with his French war bride, Amelie and a baby. Amelie insists that understanding only can come by retelling her life story. Interjections by Kat, reveal her character and complete the love triangle. The story is not a "quick read", there is so much to learn of the mettle of this French woman caught in the perils of World War II. Bittersweet and intricate, this is definitely a worthwhile historical fiction read.
What would you do if the man you were engaged to marry went to serve overseas and came home with a war bride and a baby? Would you freak out, be bitter, and refuse to hear anyone’s side of what happened? Probably all of the above. This is exactly what Kat Thompson did. In the midst of wedding planning, her soon-to-be husband, Dr. Jack O’Connor, met a woman named Amélie in France during World War II and brought her home to Wedding Tree, Louisiana - already married and with a baby. As is the case in small towns, this was a huge scandal which embarrassed Kat and left her bitter and resentful, mostly at Amélie. Without finding out what had really gone on, Kat left Wedding Tree and ended up marrying and living a happy life, as much as she could without her high-school-sweetheart ex-fiance, Jack. Years later, after a cancer diagnosis and not long left to live, it is time for Kat to find the truth of what really happened all of those years ago. Are things always what they had seemed to be? Are they ever? The French War Bride is a novel that will make you realize that things are not always what you think they are and that things are not always what they seem to be. It will make you question what is right, what is wrong, and make you think about the gray area in-between. What would you do in times of war that you would not otherwise do and is it right to act based on the circumstances and the cards you're dealt? It is time for Kat to find out if she can truly forgive and let go of the past bitterness and hatred so that her eternal soul can rest in peace. The French War Bride is not only historically enticing, but wildly addicting. The story of Kat and Amélie’s past and how they are intertwined will add an element of mystery to this historical romance. I found the way that the story began was effective and allowed the actual plot to thicken right from the beginning. Instead of being a drawn out and hard-to-get-into book, the way in which it is written makes it read as though you are actually having a conversation. In an historical novel like this, I feel as though it is important to convey history in a way that makes readers feel as though they are being spoken to, not at. The fact that The French War Bride had an element of story and history that were expertly intertwined allowed the reader to feel like they were learning without being taught, which is probably most of the reason that I could not put it down. That, and the fact that the characters were so relatable and easy to like, once you really got to know them. Upon hearing both of Kat and Amélie’s points of view, I could not help but wonder what I would have done in both of their situations and just how much what was going on in the world would have affected my decisions. I do hope that there will be many more books by Robin Wells in the near future. One thing is for certain, I must have them all. Quill says: The French War Bride is a thought-provoking and historically accurate novel that will leave readers unable to put the book down.
Amelie O’Connor is 93 years old, not given to thinking much about her past, that is until a bold, angry woman, Kat Thompson struts into Amelie’s assisted living home. It seems that Kat was engaged to Amelie’s husband, Jack and she’s here to find out how that happened because she is dying of cancer and trying to resolve past wrongs and issues. So begins a phenomenal, yet real story of living through WWII in mainly Paris, France. Amelie and Yvette have been best friends from the time they were children. Now the Germans have taken over France and every day is harrowing, a matter of survival or death. Both women watch their parents die directly from the Germans or disease following the starvation conditions imposed by the enemy. However, out of the bitterness and sorrow of those losses arose the feisty French Spirit expressed through the Resistance. No, it’s not melodramatic stuff of the movies but is day-by-day ferocious passing of information to thwart if not destroy German progress in the war. During that time, Amelie’s brother works for the French police who obey the German directives and seeing some of his action changes Amelie forever. At the same time Yvette dumps Amelie’s brother as a boyfriend, she begins to cooperate with the Germans in order to get fragile and important information. The lack of food and clothing are so tangible that the reader can feel their starvation and see their weight rapidly falling along with other horrors. Neighbors sometimes help each other and sometimes selfishly deny each other since one mouthful of food can often mean surviving alive another day. In between the two narrative voices presenting their story or point of view, we see the reactions of both women and the gradual revelation of secrets that forces each woman to face her own lies and truth. This calls for forgiveness! The pace of this novel is evenly presented with ever-present rules changing, bringing new crises and ways of coping that are intriguing and keep the reader flipping rapidly through the pages. The romance is sweet while the cost paid is cruel and yet no less passionate for hard times call for all or nothing investment. The French War Bride isn’t hopeless at all – it’s invigorating prose that celebrates survival after loss, strength during and after weakness, loyalty despite ever-present traitors, and enduring love that calls forth the best humans can give in the face of the worst others can inflict. Dramatic and highly recommended historical fiction!
My Thoughts… WW II is my favorite. I love to read the history of the war, the history of the people in Europe and how the war affected them, the history of the people in the US left behind by the soldiers fighting the war in the but mostly I love to read about women in the war. I love to know how women coped with their men leaving, what those who were living with the fighting going all around them, and how life can go on with all the horrors they are witnessing. The French War Bride has everything I love within its pages. This story was uniquely written. There are two points of views. Both women had a love in common, Jack. I was enthralled with Amelie’s story of war, Joshua, being a spy, and being a woman in Nazi occupied Paris. Her story was heart breaking, eye opening, and truly remarkable. She lost her entire family in WWII yet she never gave up on life. The friendship with Yvette, her best friend, was amazing. From childhood neighbors and best friends to both working against the Nazi’s during the war their friendship never wavered. The way the two of them worked together and trusted each other is amazing. Kat, the one Jack left behind, is jilted. With her death, due to cancer, looming in the near future she is looking for closure. She wants to know why she was jilted. I felt like Kat was extremely selfish. She listened to Amelie tell the story and jumped on anything that was said in a positive way about her. I didn’t dislike her; I just didn’t really like her. I felt like she was the prom queen, mean girl who just assumed everything revolved around her. The war affected both women in different ways and caused changes to their lives that were not expected. The French War Bride is fiction yet there was so much history in it. Robin Wells did her homework. The descriptions of the war planes in the sky, the treatment of Jews, and so many other happenings were true to life. There was so much description in the paragraphs that I could picture the life that those in France were living with the Germans in charge. This is an incredible WWII story. I recommend everyone who loves this era as much as I do to pick up a copy today.