Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Book Review - A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore

A Week in Paris
A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore
Released: 9th October 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Pages: 480
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
The streets of Paris hide a dark past...September, 1937. Kitty Travers enrols at the Conservatoire on the banks of the Seine to pursue her dream of becoming a concert pianist. But then war breaks out and the city of light falls into shadow. Nearly twenty-five years later, Fay Knox, a talented young violinist, visits Paris on tour with her orchestra. She barely knows the city, so why does it feel so familiar? Soon touches of memory become something stronger, and she realises her connection with these streets runs deeper than she ever expected. As Fay traces the past, with only an address in an old rucksack to help her, she discovers dark secrets hidden years ago, secrets that cause her to question who she is and where she belongs...A compelling story of war, secrets, family and enduring love.
A Week in Paris tells the story of Fay Knox a 21 year old violinist with no recollection of her early childhood.  The story starts when Fay in 1956 when Fay is sixteen and she travels to Paris on a school trip, while she is there everything feels familiar to her although when she returns her mother assures her she has never been. When Fay reaches 21 she is accepted to play in an orchestra on tour in Paris.  Before she goes her mother has a mental breakdown and is admitted to hospital, while Fay visits her she tells her daughter to look in the linen chest before she goes on her trip. Fay finds an old child’s rucksack which feels familiar to her, with just a label saying St Cecile’s, Paris. Confused Fay heads to Paris where she again has feelings of familiarity, after finding a convent named St Cecile’s Fay begins to unravel a past life which makes her question everything she believes to be true.
Although the majority of this story is set in the present day 1961 we also learn about Kitty’s early life through the narrative of Nathalie Raymond a lady who Fay meets after being lead to the convent of St Cecile’s by the luggage ticket.  Kitty’s story takes place during the war years and it was just so haunting and really conveyed the uncertainty and fear people must have had at the time.
I loved the way that Fay’s life in Paris began to reflect that of her mother’s years earlier and like the parallels between Kitty and Eugene and Fay and Adam. In a way I think it helped to tie the two stories together. I also loved the way that both Fay and Kitty rely on their gut instinct when they are unsure about things and when knowing who to trust.  After the story had unfolded it was easier to see why Kitty had had her breakdown and ended up in the hospital, I’m sure many who have kept so much hidden for so long would crumble eventually too.
This was my first time reading a novel by Rachel Hore and I think she has done an incredible job in creating a very realistic feeling historical novel, I actually felt like I was living Kitty’s story and the writing was so gripping that I could just not stop reading.  I loved this book as I really enjoy historical fiction, especially when there is a hidden mystery to unfold which this book did brilliantly. It is a book which will make you question whether the truth is sometimes best left hidden or if it should be told despite the repercussions. 
I’m sure fans of Rachel Hore will adore her new book and I highly recommend it to those of you who are fans of historical fiction, it’s a book that will totally absorb you.
Rating 5/5

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