The Paris Daughter revolves around two women, both experiencing casualties of the war. The two women have in common the love of their daughters and that they are both American women married to French men. However, the similarities stop there. Their lives are very different from each other. Juliette owns a bookshop, is expecting a child, and has a loving family. Elise is married to an artist dangerously involved in the French Resistance and feels invisible in her marriage. She is overjoyed to meet a fellow American when she visits Juliette’s bookshop. The daughters are born at the same time and the mothers and daughters become fast friends for a while until circumstances of the war cause their lives to become enmeshed. Soon, tragic events occur for both simultaneously, described in a way only Kristin Harmel can do. The series of horrific events as the war got closer caused the women to experience the unimaginable. Both have to leave; but one mother has to make the worst decision you can imagine.
The writing here is classic Kristin Harmel, easy to follow, and beautifully written. Kristin knows every square inch of Paris and could undoubtedly be a historian for Paris and France in the late 1930s and throughout the war, as she describes the horror of the war in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The story is written in two parts, the first is the beginning of the war and the second is later in 1960, when Juliette’s and Elise’s lives collide again in America. The suspense lies in what is in the minds of these women and their love and commitment to their children—even if those children didn’t survive the war.