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The French Gift

Author: Kirsty Manning

Started: Oct. 25, 2021

Finished: Oct. 28, 2021

Thanks to William Morrow Paperbacks and Netgalley for the chance to read this advanced copy in return for an honest review.

During World War II, Margot Bisset is a young French maid accused of murder and sent to Fresnes Prison where she befriends Josephine Murant, a journalist and Resistance fighter. The women form an unlikely friendship and are transferred to a work camp in Germany to serve their sentences. They both endure untold horrors and only one of them makes it out.

In present day Paris, Evie Black, niece of Josephine Murant, is contacted by a museum curator who wishes to establish an exhibition on Josephine's life and her work in the French Resistance. There is a rumor of an unpublished manuscript and Evie and the museum curator try to find it. As they search, they uncover what Josephine and Margot's lives were like in the prison camp. They begin to understand how deep into the Resistance Josephine was and why she believed that Margot was innocent.

This was a well-told historical fiction that told the story of the Phrix Rayon factory. The Phrix Rayon factory was where the Germans created artificial rayon using viscose. The women were made to handle this acidic liquid and many ended up with scarred lungs, burns, and even blindness. Others drank the liquid in order to end their suffering. I was unaware that this factory even existed. With every historical fiction I read, I find myself researching places and events I did not know existed. Kirsty Manning is a wonderful author and I look forward to picking up more of her books and seeing what else she has to offer.

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