All the Flowers in Paris: A Novel

Written by Sarah Jio
Review by J. Lynn Else

It’s 2009, and Caroline has just come face-to-face with a man from her past – a past she’s been running from. In her mad dash to get away, the bicycle she’s riding collides with a truck. The accident causes amnesia, leaving her wondering who she is and why she’s in Paris. Her apartment also has its secrets. In a spare bedroom, Caroline discovers a stack of unsent love letters from the 1940s. Who was this woman who left her dreams and her love behind?

Running parallel to Caroline’s story is a storm brewing in 1943 Paris. Widowed single mother Céline is helping in her father’s flower shop. When a Nazi soldier enters the shop and reveals he’s heard they have a Jewish relative, Céline’s world is quickly turned upside-down. After her father is attacked, Céline will be left with one impossible choice after another to ensure her daughter’s survival.

Jio starts things off in the most compelling of ways. Our main character, Caroline, has just discovered something upsetting and then loses her memory. Every discovery of Caroline’s past is felt both by her and the reader. Intriguing questions are posed regarding the self, and if Caroline is the same person despite not remembering her past. Additionally, does Caroline like the person she’s learning about? As she pieces her life together, Caroline also uncovers clues about a dark moment that occurred during the Nazi occupation. Enter Céline, whose story is filled with mounting danger. Céline watches the city she loves slowly twist with hatred. Jio balances both women’s lives well, teasing out moments at their most emotionally impactful. While Céline is struggling to survive, Caroline is learning how to live again. This book is full of tension, intrigue, and mystery, making it impossible to put down. Recommended!