Review: The Socialite

by Becky
Cover of The Socialite novel

Story: Katherine has always been the sister to obey the rules while her younger sister Eleanor has lived to disobey. After Ellie runs away from home and into the arms of the Nazi party in occupied France in the midst of WWII, Kat finds herself cleaning up another of her sister’s messes as she makes her way to Paris to bring her Ellie back home to England – by any means necessary. What Kat doesn’t know is that her father has hired a local resistance fighter named Barrett to get both of the women home safely.

As Barrett and Kat learn to trust each other, they must also navigate the innermost Nazi circles – passing along vital information for the resistance. Fighting each other, their growing feelings for one another, and the pressing need to extricate themselves from France, the duo must somehow work together to accomplish their shared mission. With so many explosive situations looming, their future is anything but certain.

Light, laughter, and music spilled out of the open windows on the top floor, chilling her to the bone despite the late-July air.

Why: If you didn’t catch our group post on reading for comfort, I mentioned that a good romantic mystery is one of my favorites to lose myself in. Make it historical fiction set during WWII and I pretty much can’t resist! Given the extra time at home, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to dive into what the book jacket described as “glamour, treachery and romance.” Who isn’t looking for a little adventure right now while we can’t leave the house?!

Without prompting, she followed his lead as if each step were a continuation of his own. As if an invisible string tied them together, they each shifted to follow the slightest vibration of the other.

Opinion: I read The Socialite in two sittings. The first – I got a few chapters in. The second – I could not put it down and finished a little after midnight on a weeknight. The plot is fast-paced and even when I thought I had a good bead on what was going to happen in the next chapter, I had to find out. I also enjoyed the perspective of seeing occupied Paris from the German side. Being “behind enemy lines” added that element of suspense that kept me intrigued and made this a less common read.

As with any romance, there are some extra-convenient moments in The Socialite that are a tad irksome, but J’nell Ciesielski‘s writing style is a great blend of fact and fiction, plot development and character development. There are well-researched details that create a sense of authenticity, while her dialogue is believable and enhances the reader’s understanding of the characters. What I think I’d say I enjoyed most were the more subtle, nuanced moments that Ciesielski creates that let the reader feel a situation or interpret things as he/she would – as opposed to force feeding detailed descriptions.

She’d had a lifetime of learning the social ambiguities of what a person might say versus what they actually meant. A simple miscalculation earned one embarrassment or, at the very worst, a cut from the social group. Here it meant death.

Recommendation: This title will probably skew more toward our romance readers. My fellow WWII era fans may enjoy it as well, but the romantic angle may distract from Ciesielski’s take on the war if that’s why you pick it up. Also, I appreciated that the overtly romantic scenes were suggestive without being risque, though I may still recommend a slightly more mature audience. In general however, The Socialite hits so many of the qualities that I’ve been looking for in a book during this time of quarantine and social distancing, I think it’s a great choice to put on your TBR list!

Trapped in a wooden box, he opened his mouth to scream and choked on the ashes smoldering his tongue. The heat shot out of his mouth to set the box ablaze.

Discussion Questions: I enjoy thinking of questions regarding the books I read, and sometimes, the books provide some as well!

  1. Who is the bravest character in the book and why? Did you consider anyone other than Barrett, Kat and Ellie?
  2. Describe Kat’s first act of rebellion at the art gallery. How does she feel?
  3. Kat uses her high society skills of reading between what people say and what they mean while undercover in Paris. How does her “acting” in Britain compare to her “acting” in France? Would you say she has been living a double life all along?
  4. What is the turning point for Ellie? When does she let go of Eric’s hold on her?
  5. Both Barrett and Kat have troubled relationships with their fathers. How does this affect their relationship? Their ability to trust themselves? Do either of them break free of that in the course of the novel?

Special thanks to TLC Book Tours for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

Tour schedule:

Monday, April 13th: @mixed_matched_socks
Wednesday, April 15th: Literary Quicksand
Friday, April 17th: Austen Prose
Monday, April 20th: Books and Cats and Coffee
Monday, April 20th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Wednesday, April 22nd: Christian Chick’s Thoughts
Thursday, April 23rd: Living My Best Book Life and @livingmybestbooklife
Friday, April 24th: 100 Pages a Day
Monday, April 27th: @babygotbooks13
Tuesday, April 28th: Jathan & Heather
Wednesday, April 29th: Blunt Scissors Book Reviews and @bluntscissorsbookreviews
Thursday, April 30th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, May 4th: Orange County Readers and @orangecountyreads
Tuesday, May 5th: Read Eat Repeat
Wednesday, May 6th: @rendezvous_with_reading
Friday, May 8th: The Reading Corner for All and @thereadingcornerforall
Monday, May 11th: Into the Hall of Books
Wednesday, May 13th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Thursday, May 14th: Openly Bookish
Friday, May 15th: Girl Who Reads

About J’nell Ciesielski

With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the INSPY and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle.

Find out more about J’nell at her website, and connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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1 comment

Sara Strand April 16, 2020 - 7:32 pm

You sold me on the romance angle! Thank you for being on this tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours

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