“Last Train to Paris” by Michele Zackheim had a profound effect on me. It made me feel, experience, think; it swallowed me, touching every single string of my soul. This book is not on a bestsellers list, and I doubt it would ever be. Too honest, too brutal, too tragic. For men it is too womanly, for women – too harsh.
The desperation and anxiety in pre-war Paris and Berlin, where R.B. Manon (Rose) – the correspondent for Paris Courier worked, was palpable. The lively, dynamic cities became gloomy and dangerous; the people were turning into “ghosts” trying to escape the atrocities that Third Reich was planning for them. Every character had his own story, but all of them had one thing in common – the sense of despair and hopelessness at the sight of the enormous war machine that was about to crash them, to break them and their lives into pieces.
There were also Rose’s estranged childhood and complicated relationship with her mother, her love affair with Jewish swastika engraver Leon, her coming back to her Jewish roots in the middle of “Aryans’ cleansing campaign” , and numerous moral dilemmas she had to face.
“Last Train to Paris” is one of the best works of fiction about the WWII I’ve ever read.