There’s plenty to love about this book. It features really strong women, has beautiful love stories and raises some really important questions about how women were treated during and after WWII. It’s also based on a real person, a woman who became a photojournalist during WWII, which was inspiring in itself. It was so refreshing to read such a strong woman in the WWII setting - this woman would have been considered fierce and strong for today’s standards, let along WWII.
The story is told in 2 parts, switching between a modern storyline and then the storyline of Jessica (the photojournalist) during WWII. The modern storyline reads like a contemporary romance with some drama, while the past storyline, set during WWII, was heartbreaking and emotional both because of the war and the epic romance it describes.
However, where the book lost me a little was the last few chapters. It felt like it became this overly complex web of who’s who and became the final page of a mystery book where the entire scheme gets laid out before you and explained. I also was not a fan of the ending, as I don’t think it made a lot of sense. Don’t take that the wrong way because it’s still a brilliant book well worth a read, and I gave it 4 stars, but I think the last few chapters is what made me hold back from a 5 star rating.
Oh my, Natasha Lester knows how to write amazing stories.
Before you start reading, google Lee Miller Hitler bathtub for a bit of an idea of what kind of woman our leading lady, Jess May is inspired by.
I just started singing Pop Musik by M as I was writing this, as our story takes us from New York and all across Europe during the last couple of years of WW2.
I was drawn right into this story, and swept away with Jess and the other female war correspondents, who tackled not only war, but misogyny and sexism every day.
She caught the beauty of war, along with the pain and suffering and horrors - I found myself googling people and places as I was reading, as I needed to get more of a visual of the places she was writing about.
Told both in the 2000s and during the war, it was wonderful to see the links form and get uncovered between The Photographer of today and of the amazing people surviving the atrocities.
I couldn't help but turn each page to find out where she was next, what she was capturing, what emotion I was going to feel next.
This story has also made me interested about reading more of the ladies like Martha Gellhorn, Lee Miller and their ilk.
I cannot believe that Natasha Lester could write a book to top all her other books but The French Photographer just blew me away! The meticulous research to bring this stunning story to life and the description of the surroundings so beautifully depicted. You really felt like you were there with each character . The story shows how far we have come with women in the workforce compared to 1942 which this novel is set in. We meet Jessica May, a feisty, well-known Vogue model who becomes a photojournalist. This is where her heart has always been with photography and not with modelling. Being a female this only allowed her to go in the camp hospitals due to women not being permitted to go anywhere near the frontline. During one of her assignments, Jessica meets Dan Hallworth, a well-respected paratrooper in charge. They become very good friends which changes Jessica’s life in many ways. He assists with her photojournalism and supports Jessica in the stories she wants to report about even though other journalists are too scared to go there.
This book is told in dual timeline which is where we move forward to 2005 and meet D’Arcy Hallworth. She is an Art Curator which has been assigned to a French chateau to gather and pack some photographs by a mysterious photographer in which she is not told of any details. It doesn't take D'Arcy very long to work it out who the famous photographer is after she arranges to pack and ship the photos for an exhibition which will be held in Australia. D’Arcy’s discovers a lot of secrets which are linked to her which she must work through.
There is so much more to this story which I could not even cover in my review. This is a must read for all historical fiction readers. I loved the Author’s Note at the back of the book which gives the reader an insight into how much research was done whilst writing this book and how the story came together. This was a very emotional read which broke my heart but a beautiful read which I will always treasure and recommend to all. Thank you Natasha Lester and I cannot wait for your next book.
Wow Natasha what can I say. You have done it again, a fantastic read. You have successfully woven your story around three generations, drawing on people and events that really happened but adding your own fictional stories as well. I could really see, hear and feel the events during WW11 that you were describing and telling us about. The ending took me by surprise but it concluded the story in a fantastic way. Have the tissues ready. I purchased this novel from a book retailer so it could join Natasha’s other novels in my collection