This novel travels between two different but intersecting timelines. The first is 20 year old Odile living in Paris in 1939. Odile is fiercely independent and gets a job at the library despite her fathers wishes. Her father is a higher up in the police department and regularly brings hone young men in the hopes of finding a beau for Odile. Meanwhile Odile’s twin brother, Remy, is able to live a freer life and take part in the burgeoning resistance to Hitler and eventually joins the army against his parent’s wishes.
The second storyline involves young Lily living in a small town in Montana. She becomes interested in the life of her older French neighbor and when her own mother becomes ill, spends increasing time with Mrs. Odile Gustafson where she learns to see the world beyond her small town. Odile, widowed and only child has died, has become a bit of a quiet recluse. Odile is pulled back into life and the world through her interactions with Lily and Lily’s family.
While I greatly enjoyed this story, I did feel that it left me with several unanswered questions about the characters and what happened in the time between the war and 1983 Montana.
Novels like this one really affirm my love if historical fiction and learning more about other people snd cultures. While World War II is a familiar backdrop, Paris and the library are a different view of this time period and the effects of war.