Reviews from Historical Novel Society


 “. . . Art illuminates politics . . .” says Marcelle Lambert, one of the lead characters in Paris 1935. This summarizes Paul Myers’ approach: writing used as a vehicle to understanding period politics. As Marcelle and Dexter Jones meet and fall in love, a world that desperately wants to avoid another world war makes the missteps that will make one inevitable. Upper-level civil servant Marcelle is detailed to the office of the premier and foreign minister of France, Pierre Laval. Dexter, a savvy young diplomat, stands on the sidelines watching senior diplomats from France and England (Laval and his British counterpart, Sir Samuel Hoare) jockey to save Ethiopia from Italy, protect their national interests, and oh, yes, fulfill their League of Nations commitments as well. The result is the Hoare-Laval Agreement, which then (and now) can be alternately viewed as an act of base appeasement or, as Churchill put it, had it been invoked, “a shrewd, farseeing agreement which could have saved . . . Abyssinia (Ethiopia).” 

    Meanwhile, Adolf Hitler watches intently—and re-militarizes the Rhineland. Marcelle and Dexter plan their wedding. But will they marry, for Marcelle vows she will never desert France? 

    Paris 1935 is a complex book that takes us into the back rooms of high-level officials, writers, and media stars in order to understand why events happened as they did. The book's presentation, both cover and printing, is professional, with the artwork consisting of period reproductions. Involved and intriguing, Myers' work definitely is worth reading. 

    --B.N. Peacock HNS Online Review, Feb. 2012.

PARIS 1934: Victory in Retreat

    Sandrine Durand is a budding young journalist and student covering a series of political uprisings in Paris in 1934. Fresh and flirtatious, Sandrine’s presence adds a sense of brightness to any scene during this otherwise troubled period. Serving as a part-time reporter for French and American papers, Sandrine is ready to prove her mettle and takes no nonsense from fellow reporters. Forming an unexpected and advantageous alliance, Sandrine claims her independence and allows her sensuality to reign free, setting her stakes high for the future.
    Richly detailed description brings Sandrine’s Paris to life and illustrates the mounting tension in France as the German threat grows. As Sandrine becomes more involved in journalism, new friendships and a sweet romance take shape and add charm to the story. Though the political atmosphere provides Sandrine and her fellow reporters with plenty of action, the serious business of reporting is counterbalanced by playful banter and jokes at the Oasis, the Americans’ favorite bistro. Myers highlights the easy passions and unselfconscious enjoyment of French society in these lively bistro scenes. These slice-of-life moments add depth to the plot and help the reader traverse the complexities of the political setting and history of the region.
    Readers who are interested in pre-World War II French society will find much to enjoy in Paris 1934. Myers’ descriptive and thoroughly researched narrative feels true to the era; the “City of Light” shines through the page.

    --Gricel Dominguez August 2010 Online Review


Historical Novel Society Online Review August 2010


VIENNA 1934: Betrayal at the Ballplatz


   It is Vienna, 1934. The Austrian government is starting to become a Fascist state as German-supported Nazis decide to overthrow Chancellor Dollfuss’s government. Once Dollfuss’s government is dismantled, then Austria will belong to Hitler. In Myers’ story, Geoffrey Ashbrook is a British journalist who has come to Vienna to write news dispatches for the London papers and to write secret reports for the British cabinet. While in Austria he falls in love with Anna Marie Linden, daughter of an Austrian land owner. The plot thickens as Anna’s stepbrother falls in with the Nazis and both Geoffrey and Anna’s lives are in danger.
    This book will appeal to readers who are interested in Austrian politics in the early 1930s. The story takes place in the early days of World War II—before Mussolini joined Hitler as a member of the Axis. In 1934, the Austrians were counting on Mussolini to keep them safe from Germany. Unfortunately, as Myers relates, there were many people within the higher ranks of police and government officialdom who were pro-Nazi.
    Myers’ characters feel true to the era. He loosely based several characters on real people of the era—such as writers and journalists, socialites and politicians. For example, Ashley’s uncle is based on W. Somerset Maugham. These fabricated characters are woven into the storyline along with real people such as Empress Zita of Austria, Crown Prince Otto von Habsburg, G.E.R. Geyde, Edda Ciano (daughter of Mussolini), and many more. Myers did an excellent job of making the story real due to his good research and fine storytelling. The interweaving of fact, fiction, real, and fictional people makes this book exciting and romantic. -- Naomi Theye May 2009 Online Review