Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman
St. Martin’s Griffin (August 4, 2020)
WWII Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction
“Masterful. Magnificent. A passionate story of survival and a real page turner. This story will stay with me for a long time.” —Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey
Living through World War II working in a Paris bookstore with her young daughter, Vivi, and fighting for her life, Charlotte is no victim, she is a survivor. But can she survive the next chapter of her life?
Alternating between wartime Paris and 1950s New York publishing, Ellen Feldman’s Paris Never Leaves You is an extraordinary story of resilience, love, and impossible choices, exploring how survival never comes without a cost.
The war is over, but the past is never past.
AUTHOR GUEST POST
Trying to describe my writing process is a little like trying to explain how I breathe. The minute I start to think about it, the mechanics become elusive.
I do know the process begins before I’m consciously aware of it. At some point a character – occasionally a story or situation, but a character is crucial – I’ve been thinking about, often without knowing I’ve been thinking about it, begins to take shape as a book.
For me character is plot, as Henry James and scores of other writers have stated. One person, or two or three of them interacting, is usually the inspiration for a novel. A writer I know says she auditions characters. It’s an apt analogy. Often a character who seemed rich with potential during my musings turns out a dud on the page. In that case, she or he ends up on the cutting room floor. The converse of that is the character who refuses to follow my dictates. Charlotte in Paris Never Leaves You was one of those. I had planned a certain career for her once she got to America. She was having none of it.
Character may be plot, but that is not to say I don’t want to tell a story. I don’t start with a hard and fast outline, but I do have pages of notes about where the characters came from, what they want, how they feel about one another, and the worlds they inhabit. I frequently go off on tangents and pursue stray ideas. When I ran writing workshops, I had a writer’s mantra I announced at the beginning of each semester. Start with an outline. Otherwise you’ll find yourself writing in circles. Be prepared to throw out the outline. Any novel that adheres strictly to the original plan is likely to come out a dead novel.
That was especially true while writing Paris Never Leaves You. Thanks to the open stacks of the New York Society Library, New York City’s oldest library, one day I went looking for one book and stumbled across another volume about an aspect of the world I was exploring that neither I nor most people I spoke to knew existed. As I sat on the floor of the stacks reading – the subject was that compelling – one of the characters in my novel underwent a transformation that deepened not only him but the entire story.
As for the practical mechanics of writing, I am dogged. A writer who waits for the god of inspiration is a writer who is tempting the devil of writer’s block. This is not to suggest that I am productive every day, but I am on the job. I arrive at a writers’ room in the library every morning about nine or ten and leave about six in the evening. I used the term job, and my hours suggest that, but passion would be a more accurate term. I cannot go for too long without writing. According to friends and loved ones, I’m hell on wheels when I try to.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ellen Feldman, a 2009 Guggenheim fellow, is the author of Terrible Virtue, The Unwitting, Next to Love, Scottsboro (shortlisted for the Orange Prize), The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank (translated into nine languages), and Lucy. Her last novel, Terrible Virtue, was optioned by Black Bicycle for a feature film. Her new novel, Paris Never Leaves You, is available August 4, 2020.
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