1942, Paris. Clarisse is an American photographer living secretly in France under Nazi occupation. She wants to document the horrors she witnesses but she also wants to leave her toxic husband. Both aims are dangerous…
The Secret Photograph is a dual timeline historical novel set in the 1940s and 1980s.
Clarisse is distraught at the terrible sights of children rounded up and separated from their families, violence against Jews, and the terror on the streets of her beloved Paris. She is living under a false identity so is in constant fear of being discovered with forged papers. A chance encounter with the flamboyant ‘peacock’ Louis shows her that she may be able to put her photography skills to good use for the resistance.
I really liked Clarisse’s character. She is passionate and determined about her photography but is being smothered by the tyranny of her husband and the Nazi occupiers. Her false identity means that she is in danger but her humanity means she cannot stand by when she sees the oppression in the streets. Her skill at photography gives her a unique platform for spreading knowledge and awareness of the Nazi atrocities whilst placing her in even greater danger.
The author has researched the experiences of Paris under occupation and the historical and geographical setting bring the characters to life. Clarisse’s first meeting with Louis is really special and I loved his subversion of the enforced wearing of the yellow star. I hadn’t heard of the Zazou subculture before so I enjoyed the inclusion and sympathetic depiction in this book.
The Secret Photograph is an emotional and inspiring historical novel.
Nazi-occupied Paris, 1942. Clarisse clutches her camera as hundreds of police swarm the streets. Through her lens she spots a terrified brown-eyed little girl being carried screaming into a truck, her yellow star hanging crooked from her threadbare coat. Clarisse rushes forward to help, but the truck pulls away…
With a fake name written on the papers in her pocket, American photographer Clarisse Alarie knows the dangers of Paris better than most. Haunted by the sight of children being dragged away and carrying a photograph of the brown-eyed little girl everywhere she goes, Clarisse is desperate to make a difference. Meeting handsome resistance fighter Louis is her chance…
Louis introduces Clarisse to Café Capoulade and his underground network of brave men and women fighting tirelessly to end the occupation. Soon, Clarisse is risking her life every day. Taking photographs of the terror that has overcome the beautiful city, Clarisse follows members of the Gestapo and hides in plain sight in order to gather evidence of their terrible crimes.
But Clarisse soon learns of the over-crowded cattle cars leaving Paris carrying even the smallest children, bound for an unspeakably terrible place… Is she already too late to rescue the little girl with the brown eyes? And when Louis himself is arrested, will Clarisse risk everything the network has worked so hard for to save them both?
Set around true historical events that shook the world, The Secret Photograph is a sweeping and utterly gripping wartime tale of courage and resilience in the face of unimaginable terror. Fans of The Alice Network, The Nightingale and Soraya M. Lane will be totally hooked.
Siobhan Curham is an award-winning author, ghost writer, editor and writing coach. She has also written for many newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Guardian, Breathe magazine, Cosmopolitan, Writers’ Forum, DatingAdvice.com, and Spirit & Destiny. Siobhan has been a guest on various radio and TV shows, including Woman’s Hour, BBC News, GMTV and BBC Breakfast. And she has spoken at businesses, schools, universities and literary festivals around the world, including the BBC, Hay Festival, Cheltenham Festival, Bath Festival, Ilkley Festival, London Book Fair and Sharjah Reading Festival.