The Last Time I Saw Paris was not what I expected it to be, in the very best sense. Lynn Sheene tells the incredible story of Claire, a woman who flees from New York to Paris after her past catches up with her. She arrives with the sole intention of meeting up with her lover and living the glamorous life, but walks into a country on the brink of war instead. In exchange for identity papers, Claire reluctantly begins working for the Resistance. As she sees the effects of the Nazi occupation on her now beloved city, she becomes more involved in Resistance activities and falls in love with her contact, a British spy. When he is captured, she risks everything to make sure he is returned to her.
The most fascinating element of The Last Time I Saw Paris is Claire’s journey from a materialistic, amoral socialite to a woman of bravery, compassion, and heart. She goes from using her survival instinct simply to further herself to using it to save those she holds dear. Best of all, the transformation doesn’t happen overnight, which makes it all the more believable.
Ms. Sheene also brilliantly captures the fear and uncertainty of occupied Paris and the Parisians’ attempts to continue living in the face of such horror. The scenes in the countryside are also well written and more than a little brutal. The moment when Paris is liberated was particularly exhilarating to read; the relief the characters felt rushed through me as well.
The Last Time I Saw Paris is an absorbing World War II novel with a touch of romance and a ton of character development. I congratulate Ms. Sheene on a strong debut, and I look forward to the next!