While Paris Slept

by Ruth Druart

Relationship Stories Historical fiction Debut Books of the Month Debuts Family Drama Feel-Good Fiction Star Books

LoveReading Expert Review of While Paris Slept

A highly recommended seal of approval for this powerfully beautiful and emotional story set during and after the Second World War.

A truly beautiful and powerful debut, it is haunted with exquisite emotion, but that emotion comes with an uplifting feeling of hope. Towards the end of the Second World War two people meet on a platform next to a train bound for Auschwitz, the exchange that takes place between them will have a bearing on their lives forever more. I entered this novel thinking I knew what to expect, I left having experienced an entirely unexpected read. Set in several time frames, While Paris Slept opens a sequence of doors as new aspects of the story emerge and converge. Each chapter is headed by one of the characters. Ruth Druart uses different points of view to great effect, ensuring each chapter took hold of my thoughts and retained my focus. I invested in each of the characters, the empathy on display here left the page and entered my heart. I would describe this as a positively emotional read, yes it features man’s inhumanity to man, but the intimacy of this particular story lies in a different direction. While Paris Slept is an intriguing, compelling story full of love and hope. It enters our LoveReading Star Books and comes with a highly recommended seal of approval. 

Liz Robinson

While Paris Slept Synopsis

On a platform in occupied Paris, a mother whispers goodbye.

It is the end.

But also the beginning.

Beautiful. Powerful. Unforgettable. A stunning portrait of the brutality of war and the tenacity of love. In the tradition of Virginia Baily's Early One Morning and M. L. Stedman's The Light Between Oceans.

Santa Cruz 1953. Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door.

Paris 1944. A young woman's future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope.

On a darkened platform two destinies become entangled. Their choice will change the future in ways neither could have imagined.

Beginning on an ordinary day and ending on an extraordinary one, WHILE PARIS SLEPT is an unforgettable read.

What To Read After While Paris Slept

Small Pleasures
An American Decade
In A Town Called Paradox
A Single Thread

While Paris Slept Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

A story exploring how brutality cannot crush courage, love and humanity. A real page turner that will pull at your heart strings.

This book was exceptional from start to finish. It mainly follows Jean-Luc, a French railroad worker and Charlotte, a French girl who ends up helping in a German hospital during the war. Their paths cross and they fall in love but this is very different to your typical love story. The two overcome huge barriers and show such strength, determination and courage that you are left willing them to achieve their goal. Without spoilers, their journey leads to a life being saved and their bond strengthened but their future is uncertain as the past threatens to catch up with them.

Alongside their story is another of love, a French Jewish couple who are captured and taken to Auschwitz. A decision made means they have a passion to survive but is that enough? Are they able to forgive their decisions and look forward?

All characters within this book were beautifully rounded and your heart went out to each of them during their journey. I cannot rate this book highly enough as it was a real page turner. For those that also liked The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Read this book, you won't be disappointed.

Cat Hogwood

While Paris Slept originates in Paris during the Second World War, moving on to both Paris and California in the 1950s. It is a harrowing and extremely moving tale of the horrors of war and the strength of parental love.

While Paris Slept is the debut novel by Ruth Druart. The story originates in Paris during the Second World War, moving on to both Paris and California in the 1950s. It is a harrowing and extremely moving tale of the horrors of war and the strength of parental love.

In 1944, facing immediate deportation from Paris, Sarah is forced to make a heartbreaking, split second, decision, which will have lasting repercussions for her family and another young Parisian couple. A railway worker has only a moment to take an action which will change the course of his life.

In 1953, an unexpected knock on the door early one morning is a cause for alarm for Jean-Luc and Charlotte in California. Their lives are about to be ripped apart.

As these two stories develop the link between them is revealed, the horrors of Auschwitz are clearly drawn, and we learn the lengths parents will go to for the love of their child.

The characters are well developed and sympathetically drawn. The short chapters are told in the voices of four of the main characters and I became engrossed, reading on chapter after chapter, to hear the next voice telling the next part of the story. Once I reached the end, I had a “book hangover”, wanting to know more details of their lives after the story came to an end, which is something that doesn’t happen very often.

Alison Burns

Wow, a gripping debut novel set during the Nazi occupation of France and its aftermath which explores the sacrifices people are prepared to make for love. Outstanding, read it!

I found it genuinely impossible to put this book down - it builds suspense and tension from the first page!

It's really two stories in one. The first part of the story begins in 1944 with Jean Luc and Charlotte living their separate lives in Paris both trying to make a difference as they grapple with the Nazi Occupation of France; Jean Luc working on the railway next to a transit camp and Charlotte as a nurse. The couple begin a romantic relationship but their lives become deeply intertwined. Showing outstanding courage, the couple take some enormous risks as they navigate the dangers ahead knowing that they can trust nobody.

The story then jumps to 1953 with the couple trying to start a new life in America after the end of the war. Sadly, their new life does not bring the peace that they crave as a new ordeal faces the family in an unexpected and emotionally harrowing way with the price of love being tested to the limit. The plot twists and turns in unexpected directions as each character tries to 'do the right thing' in impossible circumstances.

Susan Coleman

An incredible story about love, kindness, hope, fear and disappointment.

While Paris Slept was a very thought provoking book and it will be difficult to write a review without giving away too many plot spoilers.

We all know about the atrocities of WWII and the dreadful conditions endured at Auschwitz with all the horrifying things that went on there. This book is mainly based in Nazi occupied France and we follow the story of ordinary people there. People who are just trying to get on with their lives while wrestling with their feelings about the things they are witnessing yet have no control over.

It is a story that will pull at your heart strings about a situation that was beyond anyone's imagination. It is written with empathy and the reader will feel sympathy for all the characters and what they have to go through to get to the end of the story.

Dawn Vanstone

What a superb story. I couldn't put it down.

What a superby story.

The story of Jean-Luc, Charlotte and Samuel, moving between the present day (1953) and 1944. The story starts with a day like any other for Jean-Luc as he is getting ready to go to work, but his life is about to change completely, all due to something that has happened in his past. This book tells the story of that past, and it felt very real. The fear that must have been felt, the complete trust you had to have in others, the hope for the future ..... It is a story of love and war, of choices made in a split second.

I'd highly recommend this if you enjoy reading about events in the second world war. Even though it is fiction, Ruth Druart did her research well and it felt very real to me.

Alison Bisping

A great read that I would recommend to all lovers of historical fiction.

This is a brilliant historical novel set in two places. War torn France and the United States in 1953. It tells the story of Jean-Luc his wife Charlotte and their new lives in America. It also tells of the events in France that drove them to settle in the USA.

It is a very emotional story that draws the reader in and keeps them turning the pages. It asks questions of the reader, what would you do if you were in that position? A great read that I would recommend to all lovers of historical fiction. It is a solid four stars from me. 

Alfred Nobile

A story about survival, heartbreak, strength and what 'Family' really means.

Set in Paris in 1944, the book takes you on a journey, as told by two families, and how their paths cross - more than once. The book is focused on Jean-Luc and his new girlfriend Charlotte and their short courtship, before being thrust into a journey that neither of them expected nor wanted.

One day, his job as a railway worker means his path crosses with a Jewish POW called Sarah, whilst they are being boarded on a cramped train to an internment camp, and she hands him something which will change his life forever.

This book made me cry, and made me realise that 'family' means so much more than blood, and how one small action, can impact so many people around you.
The book is wonderfully written, and as its told from multiple perspectives, it gives you a depth of character that is often lacking in books.

A great read, that you won't be able to put down.

Amy Wynne

As a debut novel I thought it was great and I would definitely read more from Druart. I loved her writing style as the story flowed effortlessly and it was a pleasure to read.

This was such an easy read and I devoured the book in a matter of days. I immediately felt invested in the characters and story and needed to read it as quick as possible.

The story is about the occupation of Paris during World War 2 and is a story that spans across Paris and California as we discover the story of Samuel. At some points I got mad with certain characters and the decisions they made which indicated to me how much I was absorbed in the plot. The story has so many heartbreaking elements to it that makes you start to understand the myriad of difficult, life changing decisions people had to make during war time and the devastating consequences that were attached. You feel for all the main characters during the book and cannot imagine the pain they all had to go through and how the decisions they made had different impacts on their future.

It was interesting to see two completely different sides to the war. The story is told through the eyes of a French woman working at a German hospital in France, a young Frenchman working on the railway that sends people to concentration camps and a young Jewish couple who were taken to Auschwitz.

Despite the difficult topics covered in this book, throughout the entire novel there was a joyous sense of hope that made it enjoyable to read. From the love of the young couples to the love between a parent and child and also a love for ones country, this story truly highlights how strong these bonds can be and the lengths you will go to protect your child and your family.

As a debut novel I thought it was great and I would definitely read more from Druart. I loved her writing style as the story flowed effortlessly and it was a pleasure to read.

Books Bakes Becky

A stunning debut novel that you will be unable to put down! 'While Paris Slept,' explores the psychological impact of wartime years with a story of human endurance, compassion and love. A must read!

Wow! I absolutely loved this book and couldn't put it down! This is a debut novel from Ruth Druart and what a gem of a book.

The story begins in 1953 and then flashes back to 1944, switching between the two as it unfolds. It centres around difficult choices that are made, relationships and bonds and the strength of the human spirit; it is told from alternating perspectives, which really supports a feeling of empathy for each and every one of the main characters.

We begin with Jean-Luc and Charlotte, two of the main characters who are living in Santa Cruz, and in the first three chapters there is an immediate sense of suspense that makes you want to read on. Without giving too much away, we are taken back to 1944 and Nazi occupied France where Jean-Luc works as a railroad worker at Auschwitz. His path crosses with a French Jew called Sarah, and both their lives change forever in that split second meeting.

This is a historical fictional novel, but it feels so real as it's lived through the eyes of the characters and is grounded in events of wartime years that we are all too fully aware happened. It is perfect for book groups as there are so many themes and complexities within it that can be explored and there are even questions in the back of the book for such groups.

I have already recommended it to all my friends and cannot wait for Ruth Druart's next book!

Catherine Jane Richardson

Ruth Druart Press Reviews

'Both epic and intimate, this unexpected story had me completely and utterly enraptured. You'll have your heart in your mouth and tears on your cheeks as it reaches its rich, life-affirming conclusion' Louise Candlish

'While Paris Slept made me think and cry and rage and smile at mankind's capacity for both beautiful, selfless love and terrible, heartbreaking cruelty. Prepare to be thoroughly engrossed in this compelling book' Natasha Lester

'What a book, I absolutely loved it. An ingenious plot, wonderful believable characters and it moved me to tears. A fabulous read' Lesley Pearse

'A heartbreaking debut. The novel delves into eternal questions: How far will we go to protect our child? Is love holding tightly or letting go?' Janet Skeslien Charles, author of The Paris Library

'A powerful and poignant debut from a brilliant and bold new novelist.' Imogen Kealey, author of Liberation

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781472267979
Publication date: 06/01/2022
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781472267962
Publication date: 04/03/2021
Format: Hardback

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About Ruth Druart

Ruth Druart grew up on the Isle of Wight, moving away at the age of eighteen to study psychology at Leicester University. She has lived in Paris since 1993, where she has followed a career in teaching. She has recently taken a sabbatical, so that she can follow her dream of writing full-time.

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