Published by Hachette Australia on March 26, 2019
Genres: Historical, Romance
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Inspired by the incredible true story of Lee Miller, Vogue model turned one of the first female war photojournalists, the new novel by the bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress
Manhattan, Paris, 1942: When Jessica May's successful modelling career is abruptly cut short, she is assigned to the war in Europe as a photojournalist for Vogue. But when she arrives the army men make her life as difficult as possible. Three friendships change that: journalist Martha Gellhorn encourages Jess to bend the rules, paratrooper Dan Hallworth takes her to places to shoot pictures and write stories that matter, and a little girl, Victorine, who has grown up in a field hospital, shows her love. But success comes at a price.
France, 2005: Australian curator D'Arcy Hallworth arrives at a beautiful chateau to manage a famous collection of photographs. What begins as just another job becomes far more disquieting as D'Arcy uncovers the true identity of the mysterious photographer -- and realises that she is connected to D'Arcy's own mother, Victorine.
Crossing a war-torn Europe from Italy to France, The French Photographer is a story of courage, family and forgiveness, by the bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress and A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald.
I love historical fiction, particularly WWII historical fiction, so I couldn’t pass up on The French Photographer. I’ve seen Natasha Lester’s books around but this is the first one I’ve ever read. And I have to say that it was absolutely amazing.
The French Photographer is written from dual timelines that alternate throughout the book. It follows Jessica May, a model-turned-photographer who becomes a war correspondent in Europe during WWII. Her story is based on the true story of Lee Miller. While in Europe, she meets a dashing soldier who she forms as friendship and later romance with. However, with a war raging in the background and chauvinistic men making women’s lives difficult, things don’t go as planned. Fast forward 60 years, D’Arcy arrives in France to manage a collection of photographs that will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. She is mesmerised by the photos until she comes across some never-before-seen photos that make her question her entire life and existence.
I absolutely loved this story. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first and it wasn’t until the second half of the book when I started to put together the pieces and found myself very invested in what was happening. The book is a mystery of sorts as we try to figure out the relationships between the characters and how D’Arcy’s story is connected to Jessica’s. I particularly enjoyed the way the dual timelines was executed because, as questions were raised in one section, they were immediately answered in the next, which didn’t leave me feeling frustrated like dual timelines/perspectives sometimes makes me feel. The story is heartbreaking, but also heartwarming and uplifting. I enjoyed the little glimpses into the war and the depiction of the issues and dangers that soldiers and correspondents faced. There were things that I wish had happened differently in the book, but I thought it was a great representation of WWII and the way that it impacted the world for generations.
I have to say that it took me a little while to warm up to the characters in this book. I found Jess to be overbearing and difficult to tolerate at the start of the book but she made me fall in love with her and appreciate what a strong female character she was. I had similar feelings about D’Arcy and never really fell in love with her, but I appreciated her character and what she brought to the story. I liked the main male characters in the novel, but didn’t appreciate them until about halfway through because the romances were slightly insta-lusty. Despite my feelings about the characters individually, I highly enjoyed the relationships between them and found that these were really the crux of the story and made me love it.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a WWII historical fiction novel and The French Photographer definitely reminded me of why I love them so much. It’s a heartfelt story about how the war affected the relationships and lives of those involved. The character relationships were beautiful and I am definitely going to pick up another Natasha Lester book.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thank you to Hachette Australia for providing a review copy of the book and inviting us on this blog tour.
The French Photographer is now available at all Australian retailers for $29.99 RRP.
About the Author
Natasha Lester worked as a marketing executive before returning to university to study creative writing. She completed a Master of Creative Arts as well as her first novel, What Is Left Over, After, which won the T.A.G. Hungerford Award for Fiction. Her second novel, If I Should Lose You, was published in 2012, followed by A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald in 2016, Her Mother’s Secret in 2017 and the Top 10 Australian bestseller The Paris Seamstress in 2018. The Agedescribed Natasha as ‘a remarkable Australian talent’ and her work has been published in numerous anthologies and journals.
In her spare time Natasha loves to teach writing, is a sought after public speaker and can often be found playing dress-ups with her three children. She lives in Perth.
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