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The Postmistress of Paris by Meg Waite Clayton
Historical fiction

The Postmistress of Paris

by Meg Waite Clayton

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Quick take

Beautiful and wealthy, this heiress could choose any path. Her choice: to help smuggle artists out of Vichy France.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_International


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Real-life-characters

    Real-life characters


Wealthy, beautiful Naneé was born with a spirit of adventure. For her, learning to fly is freedom. When German tanks roll across the border and into Paris, this woman with an adorable dog and a generous heart joins the resistance. Known as the Postmistress because she delivers information to those in hiding, Naneé uses her charms and skill to house the hunted and deliver them to safety.

Photographer Edouard Moss has escaped Germany with his young daughter only to be interned in a French labor camp. His life collides with Nanée’s in this sweeping tale of romance and danger set in a world aflame with personal and political passion.

Inspired by the real life Chicago heiress Mary Jayne Gold, who worked with American journalist Varian Fry to smuggle artists and intellectuals out of France, The Postmistress of Paris is the haunting story of an indomitable woman whose strength, bravery, and love is a beacon of hope in a time of terror.

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The Postmistress of Paris


January 1938

The sky out the glass roof of her Vega Gull was as crimson as the airplane. Beyond the windshield and the gray whirl of propeller, ten thousand tons of iron stood laced against the setting sun. Nanée called over the roar of the Gypsy Six engine, “La Dame de Fer à son Meilleur Niveau—that’s the kind of art I love,” to Dagobert, her sole passenger, who wagged his unkempt poodle tail as they circled the Eiffel Tower. The Iron Lady at Her Best.

She flew on up the looping Seine, headed back to Paris for the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme, three hundred artworks depicting gigantic insects, bizarre floating heads, and dismembered or defiled bodies she knew were meant to be thought-provoking but always left her feeling unsophisticated and far too American. Midwestern. Not even from Chicago but from Evanston. She loosened the white silk scarf at her neck as she initiated a controlled descent from a thousand feet to eight hundred, six hundred, five, to buzz her empty apartment on avenue Foch. She loved Paris, if only its winter nights weren’t so long when you were twenty-eight and living alone.

She throttled back to idle and extended the flaps over the Bois de Boulogne, descending to two hundred feet as she approached the park’s lake, its small cascade and charming little Emperor’s Kiosk. Up here in the air, there was no grumbling about Prime Minister Chautemps excluding socialists from the French government, no brother killing brother in Barcelona, no Hitler claiming to be eager for peace while all of Europe trembled. She dipped a wing for a better view, to see the trickle of water over rocks into frozen lake and—

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Why I love it

Novels set during the Second World War are near and dear to my heart as an author, historian, and former diplomat. And I have always been particularly fascinated by the story of Mary Jayne Gold, the American heiress who helped Varian Fry rescue artists from France in the early days of World War II. Here, in The Postmistress of Paris, Meg Waite Clayton has vividly brought that history to life through her character Naneé, whose heroic exploits amaze and inspire.

This book stands out for its meticulous research, beautiful prose, and captivating story. Meg navigates the terrain between history and fiction with an expert touch. Readers will breathlessly turn the pages and think about the story long after they have finished the book. It is a tale suffused with acts of courage, romantic passions, and many surprises. Fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale should race for this wondrous story of female bravery and strength against overwhelming odds.

This was a book that left me spellbound and I’m so excited that you—lucky Book of the Month readers—will now have a chance to share in its delights too.

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Member ratings (2,972)

  • Dani S.

    Gaithersburg, MD

    This book was beautiful. Also very stressful, but that’s to be expected in a book about WWII. It’s a story of love and resilience and art and standing up for what’s right. And also a stuffed kangaroo

  • Tia H.

    Chicago, IL

    Great read that I needed. We often think of history as being far away, but the events mentioned in this book were experienced by people still living. Acknowledging history. Acknowledging the past.????????

  • Julie T.

    Garner, NC

    A chapter of history that is so storied that I thought I’d read it all - I had not until now. A glorious portrait of a fearless woman in a decade where women were the footnote but Naneé IS the story!

  • Susan P.

    Bloomfield, NY

    Loved this book! Had to do some research on Mary Jayne Gold and her friends after I read it. There’s an oral history interview with Gold via National Holocaust Museum—fascinating to see and hear her!

  • Ashley G.

    Elbow Lake, MN

    I am not normally one for WWII books, they are just too heavy for me. But this was incredible, I felt like I was right there with Naneé through the whole thing. I felt everything she did. Incredible!!

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