Sneak Preview: Paris Never Leaves You

Publication Info: Expected publication date: August 4, 2020.

I’m delighted to take part in my first blog tour for a book, thanks to St. Martin’s Press! My review will post on the publication date, August, 4, 2020. In the meantime, here is some promotional material provided by the publisher. Click HERE for an excerpt from the first chapter.

Praise for Paris Never Leaves You

“A memorable, thought-provoking moral conflict, and dialogue [that] crackles like a duel… Paris Never Leaves You succeeds as a meaty moral tale.” —Historical Novel Society

“Fans of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale may want to pick this up.” —Booklist

“Nothing is quite what it seems… Wartime Paris is described in vivid, sometimes harrowing, detail… [An] engrossing page-turner.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The best works of historical fiction have a way of illuminating the present, allowing readers to better understand themselves through well-defined characters reflected in the prism of time…. Feldman does this beautifully in a multi-layered, tender story that explores the emotionally charged, often parallel terrains of truth, deception, love and heartbreak.” —Shelf Awareness

“A nuanced WWII story of love and survival in Occupied Paris… With its appealing heroine and historically detailed settings… a dangerous secret gives Feldman’s story a gasp-worthy spin.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Things are seldom as they seem in this engrossing tale of identity, survival, loyalty, and love…Recommend with enthusiasm.” —Library Journal

“Ellen Feldman’s writing is riveting in this beautiful novel that tells the bittersweet story of a young mother’s strength and survival during WWII. From a tiny bookstore in Nazi-occupied Paris to a post-war New York publishing house, Feldman effortlessly captures the terror, immediacy, and inextinguishable human spirit.” —Noelle Salazar, author of The Flight Girls

“Completely compelling. I tore through it. This novel pivots on how we manage to survive surviving… Charlotte’s visceral story will stay with me.” —Naomi Wood, New York Times best-selling author of Mrs. Hemingway and The Hiding Game

“Feldman’s powerful exploration of some of the most profound questions about love and loyalty resonates strongly today: What would you do to save your child? What is morality in wartime? How do we make peace with the past?” —Christina Lynch, author of The Italian Party

“This is an exquisite novel – one that gives us what we’re hungry for: an intelligent, complex female character who challenges our ideas of right and wrong, morality and immorality. We’re reminded, too, of the dangers of drawing easy, swift conclusions. Feldman achieves all of this with wholly admirable precision and wit; she takes aim and does not miss.” —Elizabeth J. Church, author of The Atomic Weight of Love and All the Beautiful Girls

“A fluid, rich, and nuanced novel, expertly crafted, guaranteed to follow you around long after you’ve turned the last page. I gulped it down.” —Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra, Vera, The Witches, and A Great Improvisation

“Feldman’s characters—in the Paris bookstore that harbors many secrets or the Manhattan publishing house with its marvelous cast of misfits—are both terrifying and utterly engaging. With more twists and turns than the back streets of Paris, the story is as propulsively readable as a spy novel, and as rich and psychologically rewarding as only the finest literature can be.” —Liza Gyllenhaal, author of Local Knowledge and Bleeding Heart

“…a vivid and precise portrait of that city under German occupation during the Second World War, but it is also an exploration of the courage and cowardice of those bitter years, as well as offering a slyly persuasive love story. The swift, engrossing narrative conceals, in the best way, the fact that Feldman is also giving us a wise and troubling lesson about the great moral crisis of the last century.” —Richard Snow, author of Iron Dawn

“A thrilling achievement…I was thoroughly drawn into a deep, rich, vivid world of engrossing characters and emotional and moral crises…a great piece of writing in every way.” —Fred Allen, Leadership Editor, Forbes

Excerpt from Paris Never Leaves You

One

New York, 1954

Charlotte spotted the letter as soon as she stepped into

her office. There was no reason it should have caught her

eye. The desk was littered with papers and envelopes.

Stacks of manuscripts and books filled the shelves of

the small cubicle and spilled over onto the two chairs.

Certainly the airmail envelope didn’t make it stand out.

Most of the books she published were American editions

of European works, and a good deal of her mail arrived

in those tissue-thin blue envelopes. The only explanation

for its attracting her attention was that she’d already gone

through her morning mail and the afternoon delivery

hadn’t yet arrived. Perhaps the letter had gone to another

editor by mistake, and he or she had left it on Charlotte’s

desk while she was upstairs in the art department. Or

perhaps the mailroom had overlooked it in the morning

sorting.

Gibbon & Field was a prestigious publishing house,

but a certain loucheness lurked behind the scenes. That

was the fault of Horace Field, the publisher. He was too

forgiving, or perhaps only cannily manipulative. She’d had

her earliest inkling of the trait the first Christmas after she’d

come to work at the house. Leaving the office one evening

at the same time, she and Horace had entered the elevator

together to find a young man from the production depart-

ment struggling to balance two or three oversize art books

and several of a more conventional trim size. When he saw

Horace, he colored an unhappy Christmas red.

“I see you’ve taken our ads to heart, Seth,” Horace said.

“‘There’s a book for everyone on your Christmas list.’”

The young man turned a deeper red and shot out of

the elevator as soon as the doors opened. That was un-

usual. The staff usually deferred to Horace getting on and

off elevators, and everywhere else.

“Are you going to take the books out of his salary?”

she’d asked as they’d followed him across the lobby.

“Not on your life.”

“It would teach him a lesson.”

“The only lesson I want to teach him, Charlie, is to

work his tail off for the greater glory of G&F.”

“And you think encouraging him to walk out the door

with an armful of purloined books will do that?”

“I think the next time he asks for a raise and doesn’t

get it, he’ll remember all the books he’s filched and feel

guilty, or at least compensated. Same with the expense

accounts the editors and travelers turn in. They think

they’re stealing me blind, but a guilty conscience breeds

contrition. Maybe even loyalty. They feel they owe the

house something in return. That’s why I worry about you.

Those expense accounts you file are a travesty. If the other

editors get wind of them, they’ll never forgive you for

spoiling the game.”

Horace’s philosophy permeated the entire publishing

house from the grand larceny of the production depart-

ment, run by a man rumored to have ties to the Mafia,

to the petty pilfering and general slacking off of the mail-

room. That must be why the letter had been delivered

late. And the timing was the only reason she noticed it. It

had nothing to do with a sixth sense, in which she defi-

nitely did not believe.

She sat behind the desk and picked up the envelope.

Her name and the G&F address were written, not typed.

The handwriting wasn’t familiar. There was no return ad-

dress on the upper left-hand corner. She turned it over.

As soon as she saw the name, she realized why she hadn’t

recognized the handwriting. When had they put anything

in writing? No, that wasn’t true. He’d written her once,

a year or so after the end of the war. The letter had taken

months to wind its way through the Drancy records and

the various agencies to reach her in New York. She’d

taken solace in that. He didn’t know where she was, and

he was still in Germany. She’d never answered that letter.

The return address on this one was Bogotá, Colombia. So

he’d got out after all. She was glad. She was also relieved.

South America was still a long distance away.

What troubled her was not where he was but that

now he knew where she was. She’d thought she’d been

so careful. Neither her address nor her telephone num-

ber was listed in the book. The people who had tried to

help her settle into her new life—social workers and do-

gooders from various refugee organizations; her colleagues

here and at other publishing houses; Horace Field’s wife,

Hannah—had found the omission foolish and antisocial.

“How do you expect to make a life for yourself in a new

country,” Hannah had asked, “if no one can find you?”

Charlotte hadn’t argued with her. She’d merely gone on

paying the small fee to be unlisted. Gradually Hannah

and everyone else had stopped asking and chalked it up

to what she’d been through. No one, including Hannah,

knew what that was, but that didn’t stop them from spec-

ulating.

She wasn’t much easier to find in the office, though

apparently he’d managed. Her name didn’t appear in

the list of editors that ran down the left-hand side of the

company stationery. Most publishing houses didn’t list

editors on the stationery but that was another of Horace

Field’s peculiar indulgences. A year after she’d come to

work at G&F, he’d asked if she wanted to be included.

“Think of it as a sop,” he’d said.

“A sop?” She spoke four languages, could read two

others, and had taken her degree at the Sorbonne in

English literature, but in those days she was still having

trouble with some American slang.

“Compensation for the slave wages we pay you.”

“At least you didn’t suggest I make up the difference by

stealing books,” she’d said, and added that she didn’t want

her name on the stationery but thanked him all the same.

Nonetheless, despite her absence in the phone book

and on the company stationery, her name did occasion-

ally turn up in acknowledgments in the books she worked

on. And my gratitude to Charlotte Foret for steering

my ves- sel safely through the turbulent waters of

American publish- ing. My thanks to Charlotte

Foret, who first saw that a book about the Dutch

Golden Age written by a Dutchman would appeal

to American audiences. The question was how he’d

managed to get his hands on a US edition in Europe, or

now South America. The various consulates had libraries to

spread the American gospel among the local populations,

but the books she published rarely spread the American

gospel. Nonetheless, he must have found one. Or else

he’d tracked her down through a refugee agency. Once

in America, she’d distanced herself from the émigré or

immigrant or refugee—choose your term—groups, but

she’d had to file the usual papers and obtain the

necessary documents to get here. She was traceable.

From Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen

Feldman. Copyright © 2020 by the author and

reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

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