Book Tour Review: Last Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim

Friday, January 10, 2014
Title: Last Train to Paris
Author: Michele Zackheim
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 320
Published: expected January 7 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours for review
Rating: 3/5

1935.  Rose Manon, an American daughter of the mountains of Nevada, working as a journalist in New York, is awarded her dream job, foreign correspondent.  Posted to Paris, she is soon entangled in romance, an unsolved murder, and the desperation of a looming war.  Assigned to the Berlin desk, Manon is forced to grapple with her hidden identity as a Jew, the mistrust of her lover, and an unwelcome visitor on the eve of Kristallnacht.  And on the day before World War II is declared, she must choose who will join her on the last train to Paris.

This is a carefully researched historical novel that reads like a suspense thriller.  Colette and Janet Flanner are only two of the well-known figures woven into the story. The parts they play will surprise readers. Last Train to Paris will enthrall the same audience that made In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson and Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky bestsellers.

Last Train to Paris, like Gracianna before it, tells the fictionalized version of a family story set in Europe during the years leading up to and including WWII. It's a unique perspective for a story and it allows for a comfortable story that isn't afraid to touch on the horrors that occurred through the `930s and 1940s in Germany and France. With her main character Rose Manon and her cousin Stella Mair, Michele Zackheim takes her readers through pivotal events that any historical reader will recognize.

Rose's story is one of many unlikelihoods -- from a poor girl in Nevada to working in Paris and Berlin, from wannabe journalist to society page writer to investigative reporter, this strong woman was a puzzle for the era she lived in. She is half-Jewish in a dangerous time and place for such heritage, but she steadfastly ignores the danger due to her American birth and her job as a reporter. She can be foolhardy and frustrating, but Rose's POV is distinct and recognizable. As a main character, it's easy to side with her in her fights with her mom and cousin, but it's in her role as journalist that Rose really shines.

I struggled with the non-linear nature of the story at times. For the most part, it is framed as an 85 year old Rose looking back on her life and love before she dies. But the narrative will feature Rose in 1992, then back to 1933 Berlin and then to 1935 and back to 1933. It feels..  and seems scattered and can make it hard to paint a cohesive picture of Rose's timeline in Europe. I wouldn't say that I disliked the way the story was framed, but it could be done in a more clean and obvious manner.

Last Train to Paris can be a sad and moving tale, but it can read more like a string of events than a true story at times. Zackheim's story is an interesting one, but it can read a bit dry on occasion. That isn't to say it doesn't have its splashes of humor (I quite enjoyed the subtle nod to Ian Fleming) but it's not a super-emotional read considering the time shown. I liked the novel and the author's passion for the story is obvious, but it wasn't a favorite. That said, I will keep this book in mind for future bookclub recs. Last Train to Paris is a well balanced mix of history, and strong characters.


  1. Very nice review -- am struggling with mine!

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Copyright © 2015 Ageless Pages Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

Amelia Theme by The Lovely Design CO and These Paper Hearts.