A Week in Paris

Written by Rachel Hore
Review by Maggi di Rozario

Kitty Travers arrives in Paris in 1937 to fulfil her dream of becoming a concert pianist. Her life is happy; she makes friends and falls in love with a charming American doctor. The idyll is overshadowed by the threat of war, then Paris is occupied, and life will never be the same again.

Fay Knox, a young violinist, lives with her widowed mother and has little recollection of her early childhood during the war years. As a schoolgirl in 1956 she visits Paris and has a terrifying moment of déjà vu, which she dismisses. In 1961, just as Faye is about to embark on a tour to Paris with her orchestra, her mother is hospitalised after a failed suicide attempt. Her mother’s doctor urges Fay to continue with the tour, and her mother suddenly gives her clues to a past fraught with secrets.

This novel is written in the popular dual-time frame style, narrating both Fay and Kitty’s stories. Whilst Fay’s story is her own, her mother’s is told by Natalie Ramond, a friend from Kitty’s past, which lets the reader serve as a spectator in the ensuing drama. At the beginning the narrative is a little slow, but as Kitty’s story unfolds, it quickly gathers pace to become a riveting page-turner. Rachel Hore’s descriptions of Paris are so true to life, well researched and historically accurate. She paints a vivid picture both of an occupied city where people try to go about their daily lives whilst gripped with fear and suspicion and also happier times in the 1960s when, nevertheless, the shadow of the Algerian conflict tinges the atmosphere. The story poses many questions about friendship, loyalty, love, and whether secrets are sometimes best left untold. Some might find the style a little restrained, but this seems appropriate for the time in which the book is set. All in all, an engaging book.