The Paris Orphan

The Paris Orphan

by Natasha Lester

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A "rich and riveting" New York Times bestseller based on the true story of a female journalist who defied all the rules while covering World War II (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
New York City/Paris, 1942: When American model Jessica May arrives in Europe to cover the war as a photojournalist for Vogue, most of the soldiers are determined to make her life as difficult as possible. But three friendships change that. Journalist Martha Gellhorn encourages Jess to bend the rules. Captain Dan Hallworth keeps her safe in dangerous places so she can capture the stories that truly matter. And most important of all, the love of a little orphan named Victorine gives Jess strength to do the impossible. But her success will come at a price...
France, 2005: Decades after World War II, D'Arcy Hallworth arrives at a beautiful chateau to curate a collection of famous wartime photos by a reclusive artist. It's the opportunity of a lifetime, but D'Arcy has no idea that this job will uncover decades of secrets that, once revealed, will change everything she thought she knew about her mother, Victorine, and alter D'Arcy's life forever.
Includes a reading group guide!
"An emotional and sweeping tale set against the backdrop of World War II...Rich detail, compelling characters, and an interwoven dual timeline make this an engrossing read for historical fiction fans." --Chanel Cleeton, USA Today bestselling author of Next Year in Havana
"[A] splendid, breathtaking novel, full of mystery and passion...a must read!" --Jeanne Mackin, author of The Last Collection

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781538764909
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 09/03/2019
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 697
File size: 951 KB

About the Author

Natasha Lester worked as a marketing executive for L'Oreal before penning the New York Times and internationally bestselling novel The Paris Orphan. She is also the author of the USA Today bestseller The Paris Seamstress. When she's not writing, she loves collecting vintage fashion, traveling, reading, practicing yoga and playing with her three children. Natasha lives in Perth, Western Australia.

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The Paris Orphan 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Wonderful Book
cloggiedownunder 7 months ago
The French Photographer is the fifth novel by best-selling Australian author, Natasha Lester. Art handler and aspiring documentary maker, D’Arcy Hallworth has travelled to France in June 2004 to pack a collection of photographs for exhibition in Australia. D’Arcy has long admired The (anonymous) Photographer’s work, and D’Arcy is sure work of such compassion could only have been done by a woman. At the chateau, Lieu de Réves, D’Arcy encounters The Photographer’s agent, Josh Vaughn, an attractive but very reserved American lawyer. After some days of writing condition reports and crating, D’Arcy is invited to the attic to examine some boxes of unframed work with Josh, and discovers a photograph dated 1944, with her mother’s name on the back: a man with a young girl. Victorine Hallworth was born and schooled in France before giving birth to D’Arcy in Australia, and has never been very forthcoming about her youth. D’Arcy is understandably intrigued: is this child really her mother? And is Dan Hallworth, Editor in Chief of World Media Group, not just her mother’s boss, but something more? Jessica May is famous as a model for Vogue, but her ambitions lie with photojournalism. In 1942 Vogue agrees to send her to Europe as their war correspondent, and she is thrilled. She jumps through multiple hoops to finally be approved and is sent to Italy, a field hospital, where she will record the experiences of the war nurses. But she accidentally ends up at the front, in a trench, her report drawing the ire of her London Public Relations Officer. Captain Dan Hallworth sees her to safety and later backs her up, but from then on PRO Warren Stone seems to have Jess in his sights. Along with the other female correspondents, she’s frustrated by bureaucrats intent on thwarting their attempts to get a story under the guise of “protecting the weaker sex”. They are forbidden to go to the front, they are denied their own transport, they are excluded from Press camps and the work of male correspondents always takes precedence over theirs at the censor. On top of this, Jess is burdened with Warren Stone’s dirty tricks campaign. But at the field hospital she meets little Victorine, Dan Hallworth’s “niece”, and soon there’s a bond of friendship between the three. The narrative alternates between two time periods and is carried by two main narrators (Jess and D’Arcy) with two minor narrators filling the necessary facts towards the end. Two romantic love stories are told, the first against the background of World War Two, the second involving an intriguing mystery, while a third gets a passing mention. Lester gives the reader many characters who are appealing and easy to care about, to shed tears for, but also some truly selfish characters who are coldly and calculating and behave shockingly, taking advantage of the goodness and integrity of others. Guilt and shame, but also the wish to save others from heartbreak, mean that secrets are kept and potential happy-ever-afters not realised. And unknowing children are lovingly raised by parents not actually their own. In her Author Notes, Lester states that this novel was inspired by the true story of American war correspondent for Vogue, Lee Miller. She details her extensive research, noting the many actual events that occur in the narrative, and the story highlights the misogyny and sexual harassment prevalent during the war, as well as the atrocities committed against women, by men on all sides of the conflict. In
gaele 7 months ago
Intensely personal and extrapolated from the real-life women and men who served as photojournalists during World War II, Lester has given us Jessica May, a well-regarded model in 1940’s New York, one who takes photos and writes articles in hopes of something more. When her ex decided to scuttle her modeling career in hopes of ‘putting her in her place’ she is determined to go to Europe and write of the events of the war. With help from her editor and friend at Vogue, she obtains the credentials and is soon on her way to Italy, expecting to be embedded with the nursing corp. But, the hospital is on disputed territory, and the CO of the outfit, one Dan Hallworth not only keeps her safe, but the two are entangled in an attraction that neither will admit. A solid friendship forms, and the two are inexorably linked, when Jess photographs Dan with four year old Victorine, an orphan that Dan has “inherited’ from his brother and his wife, both killed by Germans. 2008 in a chateau in France, D’Arcy has been hired to package and ship photographs for an exhibit in Sydney. Not knowing the photographer, she is met by the agent, who is also unwilling to share details about his very private client. But, D’Arcy spots a photograph that is attributed to Jessica May, lost to history and her more renown male counterparts, and D’Arcy is determined to get to the bottom of the story. Well versed in Jessica May’s work, known and attributed, she did a thesis on “the Photographer” and her hard work, and some personal connections have brought her to see the archives: thousands of photographs, some known, others not- all by Jessica May. Two stories, intertwined as Lester takes us through the stories of Jessica on the front lines (or desperately trying to get there) with the other female reporters: Margaret Gellhorn, Lee Miller and others – all fighting the inherent sexism, harassment and dangers, yet doing the job, as well, or better than the men. Their eye and perspective is different – the first shots of concentration camps, the bravado of young soldiers not yet battle tested, and the haunted look of those after surviving and seeing things unimaginable. D’Arcy’s growth and revelations, as she finds her own footing – always tentative about putting herself out there – with all she learned, despite her fears, she’s moved forward and onward, hoping to find a new path that will guide her. Utterly gripping and with a full set of notes and information about these women who have been lost to history but provided images that brought the war home to thousands, not as a glorified series of battles from which the allies stood heroes – but as a true human tragedy, one that sent shockwaves throughout the world for years to come. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Phyllis4707 3 months ago
This wonderfully written historical novel is told from two different perspectives in two time periods, Europe in WWII and France in 2005. It's about two independent women, strong and outspoken, passionate and talented. A beautiful Vogue model goes to Europe as a talented photo journalist to document the realities of war in Europe and must deal with the Army's infuriatingly sexist restrictions. Sixty years later a young Australian art handler is commissioned to curate a collection of famous photos, many from WWII. Secrets are revealed, but not in the way you expect. This is a memorable story of women during WWII, inspired by the real life experiences of women correspondents Lee Miller, Martha Gellhorn, and Iris Carpenter, among several others. Thanks to the Book Club Cookbook and publisher Hachette Book Group for an Advanced Reading copy of this book. All comments and opinions are my own.
Anonymous 3 months ago
This was a well written book! Natasha Lester did her research and did a great job. The Paris Orphan centers around Strong, independent women during WW2 and how the women were treated during the war. Written in two different timelines and they come together beautiful. Highly recommend this book to anyone that loves Historical Fiction. Thank you to the author and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) and NetGalley for the review copy.
HalKid2 3 months ago
Four stars is a bit of a gift. 3.5 would be more accurate. For me, the best part of reading this book was learning what it was like for a solo woman photojournalist to cover World War II. Jessica May, a former model, must overcome restrictions, discrimination, harassment, and sexism -- yet still manages to provide exceptional photojournalism despite all those odds. But May's difficulties (experienced by other historical women journalists like Martha Gellhorn Margaret Bourke-White, and Lee Miller) provide just one of the book's story lines. This was one captivating story. May witnessed battles, visited field hospitals, was present during the liberation of a concentration camp, and covered the Nuremberg Trials. But, not surprisingly, women journalists covered other important aspects of the war that male journalists generally ignored. Like the war's impact on the psyches of both soldiers and women, widespread rape by soldiers representing all armies, and the devastating effects of shortages, destruction, and violence on children. These women told the story of war from a vantage point far beyond dates, battles, and numbers of dead. The second storyline, set in 2005, focuses on D'Arcy Hallworth, a thirtyish Australian art conservator whose job puts her in contact with the works of Jessica May, a journalism pioneer D'Arcy admires greatly. Natasha Lester alternates between these two stories -- until, not surprisingly, we figure out that there's a hidden and much closer connection between Hallworth and May. My criticism of this novel centers around the last quarter of it. Plots became unbelievably convoluted and the author appeared to be overly determined to include happy endings for nearly EVERY character. For me, that turned this novel from a worthwhile examination of brave women trying to shed light on a brutal episode in history into something much more fluffy, romantic and way too contrived. Strange coincidence, though. When I picked this book up to read I did not realize Lester based the story of Jessica May loosely on the experiences of World War II photojournalist Lee Miller. I had not heard of Miller until VERY recently, when I happened to read another novel based on her life, THE AGE OF LIGHT by Whitney Sharer. Until I figured out the connection in the subject matter, I couldn't understand why THIS book was SO much like another I'd just finished.
blonde_betty 4 months ago
Natasha Lester does not disappoint. This is one of my favorite books of the year. Lester’s voice is realistic and moving. Fans of historical fiction should consider this a must read.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Very complicated and difficult to follow.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Nice work
mamalovestoread22 6 months ago
Inspiring heroines, deeply moving words, vivid imagery, and a captivating story line... The Paris Orphan has it all! This beautiful story alternates between past and present giving you glimpses into the lives of two very strong and independent women whose lives eventually become intertwined. Their journeys are unsettling a times, often bringing anger and heartbreak to the pages, but their indomitable strengths push them to persevere. I absolutely loved every minute of this first time read, it was so addictive! As soon as my eyes hit the first page I couldn't pry them away, the words took hold, the characters drew me in, and I felt right at home with them, as though I was right beside them experiencing everything first hand. This one has bits of everything to speak to the reader, a touch of mystery to keep you intrigued, drama and action bursting from the pages to drum up excitement, and romance to make the heart skip a beat... it's a perfectly blended can't miss read! Highly recommend! I requested an advanced copy of this title from the publisher, and I am voluntarily leaving my honest and unbiased opinion.
Anonymous 7 months ago
This book gives a new perspective of women's roles during WWII and that they were just as much a part of the "greatest generation ". Loved it.
Anonymous 7 months ago
beautifully done!
teachlz 8 months ago
Natasha Lester, author of "The Paris Orphan" has written a captivating, intense, intriguing,dramatic.emotional, and powerful novel. There are two timelines in this novel. One is around 1942, and the other is in France in 2005. Both stories and timelines do connect and like pieces of a puzzle connect. The Genre for this story is Historical Fiction. The themes in this story center around World War Two, and the tragedy and turmoil, dark secrets, discrimination, danger, and betrayals. The author discusses the importance of communication, family, friends, love, hope, peace and equality. Natasha Lester describes her dramatic characters as complex and complicated, possibly due to the circumstances of the times.  The author vividly writes and describes the characters, landscape, locations, and their emotional feelings. American model/photographer Jessica May arrives in Europe around 1942, to take pictures and write about the war in Europe. Many of the soldiers give her a difficult time, and she is lucky to meet a few friends. Jessica does make friends with Captain Dan Hallworth who does try to accommodate her needs. Besides being in charge of a large number of men, Captain Hallworth has rescued and is providing care for an orphan named Victorine. In 2005, D'Arcy Hallworth is offered the opportunity of packing up and assessing the photographs that were done during the war by an artist that prefers to keep their name secretive. These pictures are extremely artistic and show life and death.  Little does D'Arcy know how her life will change forever.   I highly recommend this book for readers who appreciate Historical Fiction. I had trouble putting this book down.
RobinLovesReading 8 months ago
Female photojournalists during World War II were treated unfairly, and that is an understatement. Jessica May has just lost a contract with Vogue magazine. Jess may have lost her livelihood, but not her drive. Actually, she has had another desire all along. Having spent years learning about photography while her parents were alive, along with a yearning to write, she strives to become a woman taken seriously in the world of photojournalism. First Italy. Then Paris, with many places in between. Jess not only sees the very worst war has become, she must fight another battle. This is one of becoming worthy of being taken seriously, despite the fact that she is a woman. Jess, along with a few other women, fight tooth and nail to get access to the important stories. They want to report on the travesties of war, just like their male counterparts. Not only does Jess have to fight to be in a place that counts, she fights one man in particular, Warren Stone. Stone would rather Jess fail on many levels. However, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Hallworth opens many doors for Jess, keeping her as safe as possible so that she can prove her incredible value. Meanwhile, Dan casts a protective net around a little girl named Victorine, keeping her as safe from the horrors of war as possible. The story begins a back-and-forth shift from the war to 2005. We then meet D'Arcy Hallworth, an art handler and curator hired to protectively package countless photos from an unnamed artists. The scope of the job is a bit out of the ordinary for her, but it is a once and a lifetime opportunity for her, so she travels to Paris. When D'Arcy arrives, she meets people who will change her life forever. This will also affect the relationship she has with her mother, Victorine. What an emotionally charged story! Having read dozens of historical fiction novels still left me woefully unprepared for what I was about to read in The Paris Orphan. The realities of war, dark, brutal and devastating, left me in tears more than once. I was drawn into the characters as much as I was drawn into the effects of the war. Those named, and those unnamed. For starters, There are Jess, Dan, Victorine, Martha Gellhorn, Lee Miller, D'Arcy, Josh and Jennings. Then there were the victims of the war. Although fiction, Natasha Lester did a tremendous amount of research (as revealed in the words at the end of the book), that allowed her to include historical facts, characters and places in the affecting story. This book gets the highest rating I can give. Can I say I loved it? In some ways, no. I was heartbroken. However, it is history that contained an incredible amount of realism and that allows me to highly respect it and find the tremendous value it offers tor lovers of anything historical related to war. I usually read my books straight through, but this book took a few sessions. I had to think about it, dry more than a few tears, and realize how thankful I am to live in a land unaffected by war. It saddens me, however, that there are yet entire populations still suffering the unimaginable in today's times. Thank you, Ms. Lester, for writing such an impressive book. I also want to thank the author for writing Jessica May's story that was actually based on the life of Lee Miller. I encourage readers to discover for themselves why this book wasn't about Lee (although she was a secondary character) and why Ms. Lester chose to create the character of Jess. hanks to Forever and to NetGall
whatsbetterthanbooks 8 months ago
Poignant, heartbreaking, and enthralling! The Paris Orphan is an absorbing, emotive tale predominantly set in France during 1942, as well as 2005, that is told primarily from two different perspectives; Jessica May, a young model turned photojournalist who journeys to Europe to document the real dangers, consequences, and atrocities of war; and Darcy Hallworth, a young art handler who inadvertently stumbles upon a family history littered with secrets and sacrifices while preparing a collection of photographs for an Australian exhibit. The prose is eloquent and expressive. The characters are brave, resilient, and determined. And the plot, along with all the seamlessly intertwined subplots, is an impressive blend of drama, mystique, emotion, secrets, love, loss, courage, passion, heartbreak, as well as an insightful look at the struggles faced by female correspondents during WWII, and the importance of friendships. Overall, The Paris Orphan is a wonderful blend of historical facts and alluring fiction that transports you to another time and place and immerses you so thoroughly into the personalities, feelings, and lives of the characters you never want it to end. It is without a doubt one of my favourite novels of the year and is another fine example of Lester’s extraordinary talent as a remarkable researcher and memorable storyteller.
TheGenreMinxBookReviews 8 months ago
The Paris Orphan is a poignant story that emphasizes how determination and a strong will can bring about the most amazing changes in one’s life but that sometimes life also comes with a high price. Some costs that can even resonate through time and affect another generation. Current day for this story starts in 2005 with D’Arcy traveling to France with the purpose of curating a collection of wartime photographs, taken by an anonymous photographer, that are going to be exhibited in Australia. While there, D’Arcy comes across a photograph that shocked her to the core. With the discovery of the photograph and who the photographer truly was, D’Arcy finds a link to the past that she cannot ignore. Her determination to explore this connection exposed a myriad of secrets that D’Arcy was in no way ready to accept but had to find the will to understand. Jessica May was a model living in New York City at the peak of her career until one person’s misstep caused her to have to rethink her life’s trajectory. With a keen interest in photography, Jessica finds herself seeking a possible career in photojournalism. In 1942, it was no small feat for a woman to be accepted as a photojournalist, let alone one with their heart set on covering the war that was taking place. Despite the opposition, Jessica was determined to follow her heart’s desire and after jumping through many hoops she was sent to Europe as Vogue’s war correspondent. At the start of her journey, there was a mishap that led to Jessica being sent to the front lines. A woman in the trenches was not even a conceivable event in this time period but Jessica did not falter, she did her job with the help of Captain Dan Hallworth who supported her and protected her. It was this time in the trench that would forever change Jessica’s life because the path it put her on would include deep friendships, love that she never thought truly possible, and enemies that would stop at nothing to bring her low. For fans of historical fiction, The Paris Orphan is truly a masterpiece! It was inspired by the life of American war correspondent, Lee Miller, and there are many points where this story includes actual events that took place. It is a compelling look at life during World War II and it is also a heartbreaking exposure of the treatment of women during the 1940’s. There are many well developed characters that you will truly come to care for but the story also illustrates the crueler side of humanity with characters that you will absolutely despise. With each page that I turned my emotions were strung tight! The Paris Orphan truly opened my eyes to the importance that photojournalism played in World War II. It gave me a much deeper appreciation for the strength of the women correspondents as they fought their way through misogyny and sexual harassment that was widespread during this time. The story also goes on to show that the wickedness of men’s treatment of women was not confined to one side of the war. What these women endured was truly appalling but their strength made way for the opportunity’s women have today and I am grateful. The Paris Orphan was a magnificent story that captivated me from start to finish! This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.
CharJones2525 8 months ago
Natasha Lester’s latest historical novel is a drop-dead gorgeous winner! VOGUEING It features Jessica May, a protagonist inspired by real life Vogue model and WWII correspondent Lee Miller. NIGHTMARE The dual timeline narrative starts in 1942, when Jessica leaves modeling in Manhattan after her boyfriend destroys her career. Vogue sends her to Europe as a photojournalist, but the Army’s sexist restrictions make covering the war a nightmare. SALVATION She finds salvation, however, through journalist Martha Gellhorn, who encourages her; paratrooper Dan Hallworth, who makes possible access to key places and stories; and orphan Victorine, who opens her heart. SHOCK Segue to 2005, when Australian art handler D'Arcy Hallworth comes to France to curate a collection of famous photographs. Through her work, she uncovers the unknown photographer’s identity and is shocked to discover a connection to own mother Victorine. HEART The story seizes the heart, undergirded by Lester’s meticulous historical research, compelling characters, masterful narrative, and writing as lovely as Lee Miller herself. FAN! I grant THE PARIS ORPHAN the highest stars possible and can’t wait for Lester’s next, The Dior Legacy, slated for publication next year. I’m a fan through and through now! STUNNER But please please please replace this cover, pretty as it is, with the stunner that graces the Australian release. It is the most arresting in all of publishing! Pub Date 03 Sep 2019. Thanks to the author, Forever (Grand Central Publishing) and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. #TheParisOrphan #NetGalley #FemaleWWIICorrespondents #NatashaLester