Goodnight from Paris

Written by Jane Healey
Review by Waheed Rabbani

In 1939 Paris, attractive 36-year-old American actress Drue Leyton bicycles down the boulevards to a café to meet her agent. She had recently married a Frenchman, Jacques, who is away at war. Wanting to remain in France, she’s anxious for a job. She is told of an opening at the French Ministry for a broadcaster to do English-language radio programs aimed at getting attention and help from the U.S. Knowing that the Germans would be listening, Drue is advised not to get too specific in her reports. However, she cannot help but broadcast the truth of Nazi atrocities. She might have been fired, except for the U.S. Ambassador mentioning that President Roosevelt liked what he heard. However, Drue is noted by Hitler and earmarked for execution. When Paris is occupied, Drue hides in the countryside and joins the resistance movement. Using her acting skills and ingenious methods, she continues to support secret agents and downed airmen.

Jane Healey came across actress Drue Leyton’s story while researching another novel and was fascinated by her courage and determination. Although Drue could have escaped to the U.S., she chose to stay in France. Written in Drue’s first-person voice, the intimate narrative makes us feel as if we are alongside the heroine, experiencing her joys, fears, pains, and setbacks. The detailed descriptions of the scenes transport us to WWII-era France: not only Paris, its suburbs, and the countryside, but also Vichy France. The creative means Drue used to evade the Nazis would have seemed far-fetched in a fictional story, but they are true and remarkable. We also meet several notable real characters, such as Sylvia Beach, owner of the famous Parisian bookshop Shakespeare and Company. An inspirational story for those who chose to fight evil rather than flee. Highly recommended.