Thursday, August 15, 2019

Spending time in France with Kristin and a book giveaway

This is not the first time we've featured books by Kristin Harmel and Sarah Jio together. Melissa A reviewed both of their books in a post back in 2015. This is the first time they're doing an interview together, as their latest novels, which published on Tuesday, have some similar characteristics:
  • Both take place in France
  • Both take place during WWII/Holocaust
  • Both have characters named Céline who are Jewish to some extent
  • Both switch between the past and the present
Melissa A has read The Winemaker's Wife (Kristin; see review) and is excited to read All the Flowers in Paris (Sarah) soon. Thanks to Gallery and Random House, THREE lucky readers can win copies of both novels!

Kristin Harmel is an international bestselling novelist whose books have been translated into numerous languages and are sold all over the world. A former reporter for People magazine, Kristin has also freelanced for many other publications, including American Baby, Men’s Health, Glamour, Woman’s Day, Travel + Leisure, and more. Her latest novels — The Room on Rue Amélie, The Sweetness of Forgetting, The Life Intended, How to Save a Life, and When We Meet Again — were published by Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster. Kristin grew up in Peabody, Mass.; Worthington, Ohio; and St. Petersburg, Fla., and she graduated with a degree in journalism (with a minor in Spanish) from the University of Florida. After spending time living in Paris, she now lives in Orlando, Fla., with her husband and young son. Visit Kristin at her websiteFacebookTwitter, and Instagram. (Bio adapted from Kristin's website.)

Photo by Brandon Ebel
A #1 international, USA Today and New York Times bestselling author, Sarah Jio has written nine novels with Penguin Books (Plume) and Random House (Ballantine). Her novels include THE VIOLETS OF MARCH (a Library Journal Best Book of 2011 and a USA Today bestseller), THE BUNGALOW, BLACKBERRY WINTER (an instant New York Times and USA Today bestseller, as well as an international bestseller), THE LAST CAMELLIA (a Kirkus Books Most Anticipated Book of 2012), MORNING GLORY, GOODNIGHT JUNE, THE LOOK OF LOVE (an iTunes Best Book of November 2014), ALWAYS, which debuted in hardcover from Random House (Ballantine) on February 7, 2017 and in paperback a year later. To date, Sarah’s novels are published in more than 25 countries, including Italy, France, Brazil, Turkey, Slovenia, Russia, China, Norway, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, and many others. A magazine writer and former columnist for Glamour magazine, Sarah has written thousands of articles and blog posts for national magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, Redbook, O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, SELF, Real Simple, Marie Claire, The Nest, The Seattle Times, Parents, Woman’s Day, Parenting, and many others. She has also appeared as a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition. Sarah lives in Seattle with her husband and three young sons. Visit Sarah at her website, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. (Bio adapted from Sarah's website.)

Synopses (both courtesy of Amazon):

The Winemaker's Wife:
Champagne, 1940: Inès has just married Michel, the owner of storied champagne house Maison Chauveau, when the Germans invade. As the danger mounts, Michel turns his back on his marriage to begin hiding munitions for the Résistance. Inès fears they’ll be exposed, but for Céline, half-Jewish wife of Chauveau’s chef de cave, the risk is even greater—rumors abound of Jews being shipped east to an unspeakable fate.

When Céline recklessly follows her heart in one desperate bid for happiness, and Inès makes a dangerous mistake with a Nazi collaborator, they risk the lives of those they love—and the champagne house that ties them together.

New York, 2019: Liv Kent has just lost everything when her eccentric French grandmother shows up unannounced, insisting on a trip to France. But the older woman has an ulterior motive—and a tragic, decades-old story to share. When past and present finally collide, Liv finds herself on a road to salvation that leads right to the caves of the Maison Chauveau.

All the Flowers in Paris:
When Caroline wakes up in a Paris hospital with no memory of her past, she’s confused to learn that for years she’s lived a sad, reclusive life in a sprawling apartment on the rue Cler. Slowly regaining vague memories of a man and a young child, she vows to piece her life back together—though she can’t help but feel she may be in danger. A budding friendship with the chef of a charming nearby restaurant takes her mind off her foggy past, as does a startling mystery from decades prior.

In Nazi-occupied Paris, a young widow named Céline is trying to build a new life for her daughter while working in her father’s flower shop and hoping to find love again. Then a ruthless German officer discovers her Jewish ancestry and Céline is forced to play a dangerous game to secure the safety of her loved ones. When her worst fears come true, she must fight back in order to save the person she loves most: her daughter.

When Caroline discovers Céline’s letters tucked away in a closet, she realizes that her apartment harbors dark secrets—and that she may have more in common with Céline than she could have ever imagined.

All the Flowers in Paris is an emotionally captivating novel rooted in the resiliency and strength of the human spirit, the steadfastness of a mother’s love, and the many complex layers of the heart—especially its capacity to forgive.

What inspired you to write a novel about WWII/Holocaust that takes place in France?

Kristin Harmel: This is actually my third WWII novel set in France (and my fourth overall novel set in France), so you could definitely say I've found something I'm very passionate about! I actually lived in Paris in my early twenties, and it was while living there that I made my first real attempt at writing a novel. (Several re-starts and revisions later, I finished HOW TO SLEEP WITH A MOVIE STAR, a chick lit novel, which was published by Warner Books (now called Hachette Book Group) in 2006.) Since that time, Paris--and France as a whole--have always meant a great deal to me; it's my favorite place in the world, the place where I feel most creative, and even the place where my now-husband proposed (back in 2013). I set my 2008 chick lit novel, THE ART OF FRENCH KISSING in Paris, and in 2010, when I knew I wanted to be writing books that were a bit more serious, I came up with the idea for THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING (which was published in 2012), which centered around a real-life escape line that operated through the Grand Mosque of Paris and ultimately saved around a thousand Jewish refugees. It was an extraordinary story that I knew about because I had spent so much time in Paris and fallen in love with the city and its history. Paris will always hold a special place in my heart, and because of that, I find myself coming back to it--and to the stories of WWII heroism among its ordinary citizens--again and again. It was while researching that novel that I had the idea for my 2018 novel, THE ROOM ON RUE AMELIE, and in turn, it was while researching RUE that I began to look into what had happened in the Champagne region of France (which I had fallen in love with on my honeymoon in 2014) during World War II. When I discovered that the French Resistance had been very active there, I knew it would be the perfect place to set a novel, and voila! THE WINEMAKER'S WIFE was born!

Sarah Jio: This book was born out of both my longstanding love of Paris and fascination with the ins and outs of the World War II era. First, Paris: I’ve visited many times, and especially loved the two trips I made researching this book. (Funny confessions: I once tried to devise a (totally impractical) plan where I lived in Paris every other weekend.) I always wanted to set a book in my second favorite city (next to my hometown of Seattle, of course) and this story provided the perfect opportunity. As for the 1940’s setting, all I can say is that I am endlessly smitten with this decade—the fashion, music, lifestyle, and also the strength and resilience of the people, most especially those who encountered Nazi terrorism as my characters in ALL THE FLOWERS IN PARIS did.

What do you feel the symbolism is in using wine/flowers throughout your novel?

KH: I'm not sure that wine is symbolic in the book, exactly; the novel centers around a champagne house (and the wine making that takes place there), so the wine is really quite literally at the center of nearly everything the characters do. For me, though, it's fascinating to now know the history of what happened in Champagne during World War II (which you'll learn about in THE WINEMAKER'S WIFE). That knowledge adds a great deal of symbolism and meaning to every glass of champagne I have today. There's extraordinary bravery, heroism, and love behind those bubbles, and that makes every sip special in a way I never understood before.

SJ: As you might have guessed, I love turning to nature for symbolism and layers of meaning in my novels. In this new novel, my character and her father own a flowers shop on the rue Cler. Flowers are so delicate, just as humans are, and yet I loved writing about the lotus flower, in particular, and its shocking bold journey to survive. For me, that became an important metaphor for my characters.

If you could cast three of the lead characters from your novel in a movie version, who would you choose for those roles?

KH: I am TERRIBLE at this; I never visualize actors as my characters as I'm writing (they exist entirely independently in my head!), so it's very difficult for me to "cast" actors in roles that still feel to me like real people. It's kind of like asking who should play me in the biopic of my life (which, if you're asking, would be Reese Witherspoon or Kristen Bell, both of whom I adore!). On this one, I'm going to take the easy way out and hand the casting director role over to Melissa Amster, who always has incredible casting ideas: her ideas for Courtney Eaton as Ines, Mathilde Olivier as Celine, Jeremy Irvine as Michel, John Reardon as Julien, and Katherine Waterston as Liv are spot on! (Also, Melissa, why are you NOT working as a casting director? You're amazing at this!)

SJ: Oh goodness, I hate to say this but I’m so out of touch with the latest actresses these days. I read more than I watch (in fact, if you ask my husband, he’ll tell you that movie screens are a sure-fire way to get me to fall asleep, ha. No, really, I’m fun! I promise! Zzzzzzzzzzz.) In that sense, I don’t know that I’d have a good cast in mind. But for some reason, I feel like Reese Witherspoon would make a fabulous lead for Caroline!

Which is your favorite of each other's novels? If you haven't read any yet, which one would you want to start with?

KH: I loved BLACKBERRY WINTER, Sarah's 2012 book (I think), which takes place in two time periods and concerns a missing child cold case. I liked the dual timelines and the way Sarah always writes so beautifully about the Seattle area. I've never visited, but I feel as if I've traveled there through her books. I'm looking forward to seeing her take on my beloved Paris in ALL THE FLOWERS IN PARIS!

SJ: I’m certain that Kristin Harmel and I would be great friends. She writes about the same kinds of topics that I do with a special interest in topics of love, which I’ve always been drawn to in my stories. I have a copy of THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING on my bookshelf the is beckoning me to be read! I plan to pack it along on my next beach vacation, along with her latest.

What is your favorite WWII/Holocaust novel that you did not write?

KH: Of course THE NIGHTINGALE and SARAH'S KEY are both brilliant, as are Kate Quinn's THE HUNTRESS, Ann Mah's THE LOST VINTAGE, and Pam Jenoff's LOST GIRLS OF PARIS. I also loved the YA novel CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein, as well as Irene Nemirovsky's SUITE FRANCAISE, written during the early years of the war; the real story behind it is tragic, as author Nemirovsky, who was Jewish, was arrested in 1942 and deported to Auschwitz, where she died.

SJ: There are so many good ones, but one that has stayed with me all these years later is SARAH’S KEY. It was so touching and emotional, I even had to set it down for a few days to recover before reading further. When a book makes you feel that deeply, you know it’s excellent.

What is the strangest thing currently residing in your purse/handbag?
KH: Oh my goodness, everything in there is strange; I have a three-year-old! But at this moment, it would have to be the pirate-themed rubber duck that is squished between my wallet and hairbrush, courtesy of our trip this morning to an indoor bounce house park!

SJ: I love this hilarious question! I have three boys (ages 12, 10 and 8) so you know that on any given day, I have the most bizarre things in my bag (a giant Louis Vuitton Neverful bag, which my boys call “Louie.”) Presently, I’ve been carting around two lemon cucumbers a friend gave me from her garden, which I’m just now realizing I forgot to put in the fridge! I’m also pretty sure I have nine pairs of sunglasses, four dozen Band Aids and at least enough snacks to feed a small army. Mom life!

Thanks to Kristin and Sarah for chatting with us and to Gallery and Random House for sharing their books with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends August 20th at midnight EST.


JeanneK said...

I have been dying to read both of these books! Two incredible authors and two great books...thank you so much for the chance.

Anonymous said...

My daughter and her family lived in Paris for 3 years. I was able to visit them several times. Paris is magnificant. The food is beyond description. The countryside and chateaus are beautiful. Yes, I love France. I would love to read these books and share them with my daughter and my reading friends.

Donna Shaw

Carla S. said...

My favorite is a tie between Paris and the Champagne region.

Michelle L said...

I've never been to France, but would like to visit Provence.

traveler said...

Visiting France would be wonderful. I would explore Le Marais in Paris and then travel to Provence.

Lara said...

I’d like to see lavender fields in Provence and bookshops in Paris.

Mary C said...

I'd like to visit Paris.

Nancy P said...

Would love to visit, as I have French heritage. My go-to place is the Musée d’Art Moderne.

holdenj said...

I was fortunate to visit a few cnateaux in the Loire Valley--Chenonceau being one.

Nancy said...

Paris was an amazing city to visit. It was such a treat to see a number of museums and famous places.

allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Angie said...

Chinon in the Loire Valley is my favorite so far.

Mary Preston said...

I'd like to go to Champagne to drink Champagne.

diannekc said...

I've never been to France. I would love to visit Paris.

Stacie said...

I love historical fiction and since they both loved SARAH'S KEY, I know I will love these books too.

Bonnie K. said...

I've never been to France. I love reading about it though. I have no idea where I'd want to go. Both the cities and countryside has something to offer, but I generally prefer the less crowded areas. I love food; so, I'd like to go where the rustic meals are offered.

bn100 said...


Emily Catan said...

Love to visit Eiffel Tower, Paris as it is one of the world's seven wonders.

jpetroroy said...

The cafes and streets and countryside.

Summer said...

I've never been there, but in books there's always some quaint little bookshop in Paris, I'd love to visit one of those.

Letty Blanchard said...

I’ve been to the Loire Valley and to Paris and loved both. Want to go back and see more of France. Would love to go to Provence but I’ll go anywhere there! ☺️

Rita Wray said...

I would visit the Eiffel Tower.

Lelandlee said...

Loire Valley

Xia Lee said...

love to visit Paris

Amy C said...

I have not been to France, but I would love to visit Provence.

Tatum Rangel said...

I would love to visit France. When/if I go, I want to see Paris. :)

rubynreba said...

I have not been there but would like to visit Paris.

rbooth43 said...

Both of my brothers fought in World War II, one in the Navy, on a ship protecting the coastal waters of France, and one a Marine, who fought at Iwo Jimi! Sure would love to read both books!

LoriF said...

Would love to read these!