THE POSTMISTRESS OF PARIS BY MEG WAITE CLAYTON

 

Chosen by Publishers Weekly for their list of notable fall literary books, THE POSTMISTRESS OF PARIS (Harper/November 30, 2021) by Meg Waite Clayton sweeps readers into the lives of writers and artists, ex-pats, and ordinary citizens caught up in the dark early days of the German occupation of France. This novel—inspired by the courageous efforts of real-life Chicago heiress Mary Jayne Gold and fellow American Varian Fry in smuggling artists and intellectuals out of war-torn Europe—brings vividly to life a historical moment that has new relevance in today’s world of closing borders.

Nanée is a young heiress who fled a restricted life in the Midwest for the freedom of Paris a decade before the story opens. She soars into view in the pilot seat of her Vega Gull, in a daring, near-fatal flight around the Eiffel Tower and Bois de Boulogne. With her aviator scarf and flight jacket over a simple Chanel dress, she mingles at a Surrealist art exhibition, charmed by grieving photographer Edouard Moss and his toddler daughter. Edouard has just escaped Germany and will soon find himself interned in a French labor camp while Luki is hidden by friends.

The suspense of Nanée’s swooping flight is a harbinger of her transformation from an idle adventurer into a heroine. Under the code name “The Postmistress,” she is soon passing along news of forged exit visas and clandestine escape routes. She rents a villa in Marseille where she, Fry, and their circle of friends host salons at which they hang art from trees and play the music of their easier pasts while harboring artists hunted by the Reich.

Tested and doubted at first, Nanée proves her mettle by moving through occupied and “free” France by train, on foot, and hidden in a hay cart, a near-invisible presence slipping around Germans and Vichy officials to help others escape. Drawn to Edouard and Luki from that first night in Paris, she risks her safety, her virtue, and her life to try to save them, as they too save her in this novel that is a haunting love story and a tale of high-stakes danger and incomparable courage.

Meg Waite Clayton is a New York Times bestselling author of seven prior novels, including the international bestseller and National Jewish Book Award Finalist The Last Train to London (published or forthcoming in twenty languages); the Langum Prize–honored The Race for Paris; The Language of Light, a finalist for what is now the PEN/Bellwether Prize; and The Wednesday Sisters, one of Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Essential Best Friend Novels of all time. She has written for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, and public radio, often on the subject of the particular challenges women face. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

New York Jewish Guide

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