Talking Location With author Charlotte Rixon – Newcastle
Reflective novel set in Paris (a story of the city)
3rd August 2017
A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore, a reflective novel set in Paris.
A Week in Paris is a book that transports the reader from Paris, during the terrifying years of the German invasion of the Second World War, through to a time, twenty-five years later, when Parisians were again enjoying the beauty of the City of Light.
Fay Knox, a young girl, goes on a school trip to Paris, a city she was sure she had never travelled to before. While with her friends in Notre Dame cathedral, she suddenly has a strange experience, but is quick to shake it off as tiredness from all the excitement.
Fay was always lead to believe that her father, Eugene Knox, had died during an air raid on their home in London during the war. This devastation had also destroyed all their possessions, leaving Fay and her mother, Kitty, with only the clothes on their back. They then moved to Primrose cottage in a small Norfolk village. There are times that Fay notices something is amiss with her mother, but Kitty is always quick to dismiss it and reassures Fay that all is well. But as the years go by, Kitty’s mental health suffers more noticeably and she has to be hospitalised for periods of time.
It is during one of these episodes that Fay, now in her early twenties, informs her mother of her impending trip to Paris with her orchestra. Kitty, on hearing this news, gets quite flustered and passes on a piece of information that changes everything for Fay.
As readers, we are swept back in time to the pre-war years of Paris. It’s 1937 and a young woman, Kitty Travers, arrives fresh faced, with ambition, to study as a concert pianist and to make her mark as a musician. But for Kitty, she soon finds herself caught up in a very different world than she expected….
Kitty boards with a convent in the vicinity of Notre Dame. She walks on the banks of the Seine, absorbing the Parisian way. She admires the women, the fashion, the boulevards, the way of life….the Joie de Vivre… but unbeknownst to Kitty, she too is being admired. Eugene Knox is an American doctor working and living in Paris. He immediately is entranced by Kitty and it is not long before the magic of Paris seeps into their very souls. Kitty and Eugene fall in love, get married and start a new life for themselves, happy to be living in such a vibrant and passionate city.
Rachel Hore exposes both the beauty and horrors of Paris through the years in A Week in Paris.
We are immersed in the elegance and allure of this famed city for lovers. We long to be sitting in a cafe overlooking Notre Dame or strolling along the Champs-Élysées, passing enviable glances at the fashionable women adorned in the Haute Couture of the time. Like Kitty and Fay, we imagine Paris through the glow of rose-tinted glasses.
But as the war machine trundled on, Paris was soon a city under siege. Buildings were boarded up. Inhabitants were forced to wear the yellow star denoting their Jewish faith. Gunshots and the distant patter of rushing steps soon replaced the music in the bars.
The story of Kitty Travers unravels as you turn the pages. As Fay delves deeper into her mother’s past, secrets long hidden are exposed.
Kitty and Eugene’s story is one of heartbreak and of bravery. Paris and the fear of its citizens, is conveyed with such vividness, that as a reader you are transported to a very different time, to a city where darkness followed light and where fear replaced joy.
A Week in Paris is more that just a story of one family. It is a story of lost innocence, a story of suffering and despair, a story of love and hope but ultimately a story of Paris.
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