Excerpt: The Room on Rue Amélie - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls, this powerful novel of fate, resistance, and family—by the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and When We Meet Again—tells the tale of an American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in occupied Paris during the tumultuous days of World War II.

When newlywed Ruby Henderson Benoit arrives in Paris in 1939 with her French husband Marcel, she imagines strolling arm in arm along the grand boulevards, awash in the golden afternoon light. But war is looming on the horizon, and as France falls to the Nazis, her marriage begins to splinter, too.

Charlotte Dacher is eleven when the Germans roll into the French capital, their sinister swastika flags snapping in the breeze. After the Jewish restrictions take effect and Jews are ordered to wear the yellow star, Charlotte can’t imagine things getting much worse. But then the mass deportations begin, and her life is ripped forever apart.

Thomas Clarke joins the British Royal Air Force to protect his country, but when his beloved mother dies in a German bombing during the waning days of the Blitz, he wonders if he’s really making a difference. Then he finds himself in Paris, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and he discovers a new reason to keep fighting—and an unexpected road home.

When fate brings them together, Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas must summon the courage to defy the Nazis—and to open their own broken hearts—as they fight to survive. Rich with historical drama and emotional depth, this is an unforgettable story that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.

Book Type:

Historical

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Excerpt: The Room on Rue Amélie
By Kristin Harmel

Excerpt: The Room on Rue Amélie

If you loved THE NIGHTINGALE, you’ll love Kristin Harmel’s newest book, THE ROOM ON RUE AMELIE—a heartfelt historical drama about love and courage in the darkest of times.

October 1941

Three facts were immediately clear to Ruby. First, the man before her was British. Second, he had come in search of Marcel, which probably meant he was a pilot in need of help. Third, she needed to get him out of the hall immediately, before the concierge or someone else saw him. As if to underscore her thoughts, the door to the Dachers’ apartment cracked open, and Charlotte peeked out.

“Ruby?” she whispered.

“Go back inside!” Ruby hissed. “I don’t want you involved in this!”

Charlotte looked as if Ruby had slapped her. “But I can help.” “No. Please. Forget you saw anything.”

Without waiting for a reply, Ruby bent and grabbed the man under his arms, dragging his limp body into her apartment. She locked the door behind her and turned to look at him. He was large and handsome, but in a boyish sort of way. Not like the previous pilot, and not like Marcel. Or was it just that he looked innocent because he was fast asleep? She crouched down beside him, noting his pink cheeks, and placed a hand on his forehead. He was burning up.

He moaned softly, but he didn’t wake, and after a moment, she made a decision. She knew she should hide him in the hall closet as she’d done with Dexter, but he needed her help immediately. She had to get his fever down before she could figure out what to do next. She wanted to put him on the couch so that he’d be more comfortable, but he was too heavy to lift. So she settled for leaving him where he was and bringing in the pillow and blanket from her own bed. She ran cold water into a basin and spent the next two hours beside him, holding a wet cloth to his forehead and frequently dipping it back in the water to keep it cold. He stirred a few times and murmured unintelligibly, but it wasn’t until nearly midnight that his eyes finally opened.

He focused on her with difficulty, his pupils dilating. Then he gasped and tried to sit up. “Where am I?” he asked in English, his voice weak. His eyelids fluttered and he shook his head. “I’m sorry,” he said, switching to French. “I meant to ask where I am.”

“You’re in an apartment in Paris,” she replied in English. “You’re safe for the time being. You have a fever, though, and we need to take care of it.”

“You speak English?” He looked at her in awe.

She nodded. “I’m American. And you are British?”

He hesitated, searching her face. His eyes, she noticed, were an almost translucent blue, like nothing she had ever seen. She knew he was trying to figure out whether he could trust her.

“My husband helped people like you,” she said after the silence had dragged on for more than a minute.

“Your husband?”

“Yes.” Ruby wondered if she was imagining the shadow of disappointment that crossed his face.

“He’s here too?”

“Not right now. But I want to help you. You must tell me who you are, though.”

Again he paused, his eyes locked on hers.

She could read his thoughts. “This isn’t a trap,” she said gently. “You’ve been asleep for more than two hours. If I’d wanted to hurt you—or to call the authorities—I would have done so already.”

His eyes stayed on hers for a moment more, and she found herself once again thinking that they were an extraordinary color. “My name is Thomas, miss,” he said at last. “Thomas Clarke. I’m an RAF pilot. My plane went down near Arras, and I’ve been walking for days. My friend Harry was helped by a man in this building several months ago. It was the only place I knew to go. Did you know Harry?”

Ruby shook her head. “My husband kept his work to himself.” “Your husband, he walks with a limp?”

“Yes.”

“He’s the man Harry told me about.” His eyelids fluttered again, and Ruby could see his head bobbing a bit.

“Stay with me.”

“I think I’m quite ill.”

She smiled. “Yes, that’s a safe guess. I’m just trying to figure out whether you’re sick because you’ve been out in the elements for a few days, or if something more serious is wrong.”

“Something more serious?”

“Like an infection. Were you hurt when your plane went down?

Any wounds?”

He looked at her blankly. “I hurt my ankle, but it’s not bleeding.

And I might have a few scrapes on my chest.” “May I see?”

He paused, then unbuttoned his shirt slowly. His chest was muscular and taut, and just below the left side of his rib cage was an open gash at least two inches wide. It was yellowed and oozing. It didn’t look right at all.

“Is there something there?” he asked weakly, trying to sit up. “There’s just a small cut.” She placed a firm hand on his right

shoulder. “I need to clean and dress it. It may hurt a little. Let’s get you to the bed, shall we?”

He looked uncertain. “The bed? But where will you sleep? And what about your husband?”

“Don’t worry. You need your rest right now more than I do. May I help you up?”

He nodded, leaning into her for support as he pulled himself shakily to his feet. She noted, as she helped him limp toward the bedroom,  that  her  head  didn’t  quite  reach  his  shoulder;  he  was several inches taller than Marcel had been, and he was even more broadly built than she’d first noticed.

“Please, miss,” he said as she settled him on the edge of her bed. “I don’t want to be an inconvenience.”

“You’re not,” she said firmly. “Now lie down, and I’ll get some supplies to dress your wound.”

“Miss?” he asked weakly as she headed for the doorway. She turned. “Yes?”

“You haven’t told me your name.” “It’s Ruby.”

“Ruby,” he repeated, and there was something about the way her name sounded in his mouth that made her heart race. “Thank you, Ruby. Thank you for helping me.”

“You’re welcome, Thomas,” she replied after a moment, but he was already asleep, his chest rising and falling with each shallow, shuddering breath.

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