All The Ways We Said Goodbye centers not on a person, but a place: The Hotel Ritz in Paris. Three women’s lives in three different decades are woven beautifully and tragically together by the hotel, from World War I to World War II to the 1960s.
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IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK, STOP READING! SPOILERS AHEAD
In full disclosure, I read this book for the first time in fall 2020, reread it in summer 2021, and am finally getting around to finishing this post in *nearly* spring 2022.
We first meet Barbara, an English mother desperate for answers who embarks on a journey to the Hotel Ritz in Paris. Barbara’s husband Kit, a WWII vet, has passed away, and an American lawyer appeared on her door with evidence that tied Kit to a mysterious French WWII resistance leader known as La Fleur.
We’re then thrust back in time and meet both Aurelie in WWI and Marguerite in WWII. Both have compelling tales of struggle against the Germans; Aurelie in her castle with her father under German occupation, and Marguerite acting as a spy under her Nazi sympathizer husband’s nose in occupied Paris.
As I was reading this book, I found myself actively nervous for the characters and the situations they were placing themselves in. Of course, when looking back at terrible times in history, we from the safety of the present say we would do “the right thing,” but reading the specifics of our characters *almost* being caught while doing so was extremely scary to me. Lots of conversations and journaling with myself about how acting on your morality and spreading light and love into the world is hard, and how that means it’s the right thing to do! (Speaking of which, you should read Me and White Supremacy so we can start our work toward the “right thing” in the present, and be on the right side of history when future generations look back on us.)
I could glaze over the plot, but what is the point when I could instead talk about *~*THE BIG REVEAL*~*! Daisy is Aurelie’s daughter with Max, her lover from WWI, who’s now a Nazi officer in Paris! AND… Daisy’s pregnant with Kit’s child! Max sacrifices himself after a Resistance meeting was discovered by the Nazis so that Daisy and her kids can get out of Paris and live. You get that Daisy is Aurelie’s daughter way before this point, IMO, but all of it falling together right before this big supposed deal that’s a ploy by the Nazis to capture spies?? WOW.
And then we are back to 1960s, Barbara finds out the woman she saw her American friend with is Daisy, La Fleur, the true love of Kit’s life. *TikTok audio*: Don’t you feel dumb? But seriously, I was v mad with Barbara re: hiding the letter. Kit could have gotten back with Daisy, they could have raised their family together, and Barbara could have found someone else!
It ends on a somewhat resolved note, with Barbara being into the American lawyer, but then poor Daisy, after losing her mother AND her father AND surviving an abusive relationship AND being a Resistance spy AND having a grumpy English woman hide her love letter from Kit, DIES. But we get to see Kit’s kid, at least. Blah. Stupid Barbara.
- I loved the storytelling of the three different timelines…
- and the OMG moment when they converge!
- glad everyone made up in the end, and I hope the Canadian sister meets up with her British siblings someday
- this is my big one! not very cool of Barbara to hide the letter. it really irks me. I know we are all human and fallible but my heart breaks!
- I know logically that there have to be some historical inaccuracies so adding this, but as a reader, it didn’t bother me
- the whole ~*~some Nazis were good~*~ trope – yeah, of course, statistically some were but I think it’s romanticized a lot in books, movies, TV
4/5. I loved this book. It’s rare that I reread things, but this was 100% worth it. Also makes me want to check out the Hotel Ritz next time I’m in Paris!