REVIEWS

I adore books with a dual time-frame – a modern story, a well researched historical one, with links between the two. The historical thread to this book was enthralling, a slice of hidden social history I’d never come across before, the story of the wartime “horizontal collaborators”. But it’s far more than just a slice of history well told – there’s a strong heroine at its centre in Claudette, working as a maid in a brothel to help the Resistance, a moving and engrossing love story and one of exceptional bravery. Every character in this story is magnificently drawn, vividly described, their back stories richly detailed, and in many cases those background stories are emotional and harrowing. There are moments throughout this excellent book that will long remain with me, searing and stark images that are indelibly etched in my memory.

 

The research is exceptional, the detail included but the narrative wears it lightly, and the writing has an ease and flow that makes it easy to become totally immersed in the story.

The modern story is equally strong – the shocking scene at its start, Connie’s sad history, her quest to discover playwright Freddy’s history, alongside a developing love story running far from smoothly. I liked the way the stories converged – and, although I’m not always a fan of stories told in alternating chapters, both stories were strong enough to support the structure and keep my attention and interest.

My instinct was right – this was a book I really enjoyed, a page-turner with real originality, the strongest of story-telling, and a historical background that was just fascinating. A book I’d highly recommend.

Anne Williams

Being Anne Book Blogger

When Jan Harvey asked me if I wanted to read and review her debut novel, The Seven Letters, I read a sample on Amazon, just like I would for any book I am approached about. As soon as I started reading it, I was hooked. The emotion in that very first page was raw and it was a real hard hitting introduction. I didn’t need to read much further to know that I really wanted to read the rest of the book.

 

Set between WWII Paris and modern day Cotswolds, The Seven Letters is a powerful story of love, war, bravery, survival and the effect actions taken during the war can have on future generations.

 

The emotion and, sometimes, stark images created by Jan Harvey’s descriptive story telling is most prominent through the historical chapters telling the story of Claudette Bourvil’s hard and courageous life. Recruited by the French Resistance, Claudette is sent to work undercover as a maid in a Bordello (brothel) in Paris. She quickly realises that this is not the Gentleman’s Club the exterior conveys but it is, in fact, owned by the German Army, making the prostitutes and Madame Odile, working there, Horizontal Collaborators.  Jan Harvey creates vivid and often harrowing images of how these women were treated by both the soldiers and the French citizens, some of which will stay with for me a long time.

 

The modern day story is just as powerful but eases on its intensity – which is probably just as well as I would have been a wreck by the end! From the very sad scene at the beginning of Connie Webber’s story, to the uncovering of Freddy’s family’s past, I was just as curious to find out how this part of the story panned out.

 

Jan Harvey has a way of writing with deep emotion and rich description whilst still allowing for the story to flow well and with ease. I really enjoyed this story and will definitely look out for future books from this author.

Sarah Swan

Sarah’s Vignettes Book Blogger

This book, discovered by chance, has become my favourite read of the year!  The characters  quickly became real, as did the stories of War-time Paris. On many levels, it is a book to surprise, enthral and to grip the reader, particularly if that reader is interested in social or family history. Avidly awaiting the next Jan 
Harvey book, which no doubt will continue the standard of highly-original fiction.  

Carol Richmond

I have a book hangover. I didn't want it to end! When I finished it I was bereft for a couple of days and couldn't entertain starting a new book - I had to process what I'd just read.

Amazon Customer 

The Seven Letters is amazing. A really compelling and thought provoking read - I could hardly put it down. It is such a polished read I’m surprised it’s a first novel. It is so cleverly well-written, researched and quite literary, but also a really good story with a fabulous cast of characters! I’m genuine when I say it’s the best thing I’ve read for a long time. It is the first time this year I have not been able to put something down yet was actually sad when I’d reached the end!

R.E. Hodges 

What an extremely enthralling book. The subject matter was not the run of the mill second world war story and covered an aspect that was unknown to me. I found the story very emotional and I felt that the way the author interwove the plot from present to past was inspired. I understand this is a first novel - can't wait for the next - what a very perceptive writer Jan Harvey is, well done and congratulations to her for tackling this subject matter.

Hilary Joneson

Amazon

The Seven Letters by Jan Harvey is a book with a double storyline, one set in Paris during the war and the other story set in modern times. The modern storyline uncovers the background of a famous playwright, which the storyline set during the war reveals. It is beautifully written and captivating from the opening lines. I felt the author used the duel storyline method really well and was able to keep you interested in both parts of the story throughout. You felt a connection with each of the characters in both eras and the mood and difficulties of the times were portrayed very well. The French Resistance aspects were well researched and very descriptive and it was refreshing to have the work of women in the French Resistance portrayed. Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable read, it kept me captivated throughout and will look forward to reading more from Jan Harvey.

Jo Kirk

Amazon

I was totally hooked by the second page of this fantastic book Jan Harvey has a way of reeling you in from the beginning with the many twists and turns this story took from the sheer opulence of the life the army officers lived to the gutter level of the ladies of the night try to keep body and soul together. A fascinating history at the same time can highly recommend this book would have given more stars if I could definitely 10/10.

Miss. J. Kinlay

Amazon

 

 

Simply Amazing. Awesome!....You are captivated from the very first chapter!......Beautifully written, I couldn't put it down and read it over just a weekend. This is the first book I've read in a long time where I couldn't wait to get to the next chapter and wanted it to not end. Amazing first book Jan Harvey; I eagerly await your next one!!

Amazon Customer

A brilliant storyline which deals with an aspect of WW2 that most readers would not previously have encountered. It raises an awareness of the unimaginable acts of cruelty and hardships experienced by those living in German occupied France during one of the most dangerous periods in history. Through the author’s portrayal you soon develop an attachment to the characters, willing them to survive. The skilful twists and turns of the narrative make this a book very difficult to put down with an ending which is unpredictable.

Anne Shirley

Amazon

A fascinating insight into Nazi occupied Paris. Thrilling and thoroughly engrossing. I raced through and couldn't stop thinking about Claudette's story until I reached the end! I loved it, I really did.

Amazon Customer

Mystery, history, romance, espionage - I was absorbed and intrigued by The Seven Letters from start to finish. Jan Harvey is a master story teller. The story lines - in war-torn Paris, in the Cotswolds of today - move along at a cracking pace. You're shocked in parts, deeply moved in others; this is a book that really engages your emotions. I felt bereft when I got to the last page.

H.O'Brien

Amazon

This book was outstanding. This was an incredible story of a brave young French woman, who was a part of the underground resistance during WWII. A wonderfully written novel, as well as a beautiful tribute to the ones that sacrificed everything for the greater good.

Reviewer 

Netgalley

Just a few pages into the Prologue and I was hooked! The switching between WW2 France and the 21st Century worked perfectly. Sometimes books with time switches can be confusing, but not so with Jan Harvey's novel. I was gripped by the two emerging love stories, the mystery and suspense and reading about wartime Paris and the 'horizontal collaborators'. I can honestly say every page was a pleasure to read and I'm quite sad that I've finished it!
A cracking read. I am impressed that this is Jan's first novel. I cannot imagine the thought processes and time that go into creating such a complex story creating the elements I mentioned above. I've read thirty something books so far this year and this one is up there in the top two. I'm going to struggle to find one to read next that will match it. It would be an understatement to say that I'm looking forward to hearing that this author has published more novels. Can. Not. Wait!! 10/10. Absolute pleasure to read and review.

Tina Milledge

Amazon

One of the best books I have read in a while! Two stories intertwined in a way that grips you right through to the end. Very well written - you won't want to put it down.

Jo Wilson-Duffy

Amazon

The Seven Letters by Jan Harvey was an incredible story of a brave young French woman, who was a part of the underground resistance during WWII, and placed in a bordello in Paris, gathering Nazi secrets. A parallel story also takes place during current times in England, as a woman and her friends, in order to achieve closure, chase the details and try to piece together this under-appreciated and often misunderstood contribution of woman to the Nazi resistance. A wonderfully written novel, as well as a beautiful tribute to the ones who sacrificed everything for the greater good.

Keren Krinick (Reviewer) 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I finished this book a couple of days ago, and I still feel drawn back to the lives of the characters in this book. What a powerful, gripping story. I was hooked from the first page.
I don't want to give away the storyline by going on about the plot, but seriously, read this, you will not be disappointed. This is a really beautifully written book, even the grittier parts were told with a gentleness that held you captivated by the story
Well done to Jan Harvey on her first novel. Hurry up with the next one.....

Betty 

Good Reads

This book turned out to be much more than I first imagined. Not just another tale of bravery during the German occupation of Paris through the eyes of a young Resistance fighter but a gripping story giving an insight into what the women who 'serviced' the Nazi officers went through and how they were treated by the occupying force and their own people who saw them as 'horizontal collaborators.'
This all ties in neatly with a love story which starts in the present day Cotswolds and travels to France on a mission to find out the story of a man whose mother was involved with the Resistance. A really good read which I found hard to put down until I reached the conclusion which right to the end kept me enthralled. For a first novel this is an excellent piece of writing and I look forward to the next story from this talented writer.

Christine H

Amazon

Wow, just wow! My feelings are all over the place. Review to follow after I get myself together.
Days later: I took quite awhile to think about this novel because I wanted to spend some time to rethink some of my preconceptions. I found this book extremely readable and beautifully written, but it opened my eyes to the importance of the French Resistance in France during WWII. I now want to read more about that portion of the war. This book made me curious, which is very important. It made me want to know more about what I was reading, to dig deeper into a subject that I had spend very little time getting to know and that is a good thing!
I will be re-reading this book. I have recommended it to numerous friends (including my husband). Thank you to NetGalley and Troubador Publishing for the opportunity to read this amazing book!

Elizabeth Richards

Net Galley

Could not put it down. Kept me enthralled all night. A must read.

Evelyn Duran (Reviewer)

 

5 out of 5 stars: Loved it!

Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres and was thrilled when I discovered 'The Seven Letters' on Netgalley. 

I am not a great lover of stories with a double storyline, but it worked well in this book. I rarely write what a story is about for fear of spoiling for others, but will say that it is based around Claudette who is a member of the Resistance in Paris, working undercover as a maid in a Nazi household. The ending took me by surprise!

It is the first time that I have read any books by Jan Harvey and hope to read more books by this author. I do highly recommend.

Jeanette Styleson

Amazon

This spellbinding first novel is beautifully written and well researched this novel tells the story of a young girl, Claudette Bourvil, recruited into the French Resistance and sent to Paris to spy on German Officers during WW2. Claudette's story is gradually revealed through the discovery of some letters found by Oxfordshire resident Connie Webber over 70 years later whilst helping to clear out the house of her great friend Freddy March. The chapters of the book alternate between Claudette's story and Connie's piecing together of Freddy's mysterious past and gradually we see how the two are interlinked. The descriptions of life in occupied Paris are exceptionally vivid and the characters with whom Claudette becomes involved and their impossible situation is utterly captivating. This is a gripping page-turner of a novel. A book you want to race through to find out the answers but at the same time do not want to finish and a story which stays with you long after the final page is read. I do hope that Jan Harvey has another novel in the pipeline as I for one cannot wait to read it.

Wizzie Lizzie 

Amazon

Jan Harvey has created a fantastic story of love and betrayal against the backdrop of the French Resistance. The book captures the feelings of fear and uncertainty of living in occupied Paris, interspersed with the story of a woman in modern-day England who delves into and discovered the past. There are definite elements of romance added to the complexity of a historical mystery: who is Freddy March's mother, and how and why did she die?

Jan's characters are compelling and multi-layered, and she has clearly done a lot of research to present a novel that I really struggled to put down. I'd really recommend this to anyone looking for an interesting story!

V. Martin 

Amazon

Great book. I really loved it. Terrific. I highly recommend it.

Lu Dex (Reviewer) 

Netgallery

A wonderfully written book that travels back and forth between the modern day and Paris during the second world war, and has elements of both a mystery to be solved, and the love story that develops as the solution to that mystery is revealed. The prologue immediately grabbed my attention as a reader, and had me hooked. I particularly enjoyed the historical aspects of the story, finding them both interesting and emotionally charged. Overall I would definitely recommend this.

Annette Jordan's review

Good Reads

With a flip back and forth between chapters, the story line moves forward quickly and the reader is drawn into the worlds being revealed. Alternating between the lives of Connie and Claudette, we are thrust into modern day England and WWII Paris. Each one is trying to make their lives, dealing with struggle, love, and mystery. The writing style is lovely and would make for an easy transition to film. The subject matter in the WWII chapters is hard to face, but historically accurate. It is hard to understand how women could have survived in those situations. It leaves the reader with a moral question, wondering if they would have done the same, or if they could have changed things. 

 

I would recommend this book for people who enjoyed Sarah’s Key, The Nightingale, Finding Rebecca, or Paris Time Capsule. The historical side is taken quite seriously yet never turns into a lecture or speech. The mystery wasn’t solvable in the first few chapters as I feared. I was surprised that this was first novel, it was very enjoyable and I am looking forward to reading more from author, Jan Harvey.

Michelle Meador

Net Galley

Oh my goodness Jan Harvey, what a story teller you are. The Seven Letters is amazing the way the parallel situations interweave and continue to draw the reader in to the very end. I loved it and wished it would go on forever.

S. Logan

facebookjanharveyauthor/thesevenletters

I've literally just finished the last page of this amazing book and feel totally emotionally drained. Jan Harvey is an incredible author. This book is truly fantastic. It takes the reader right back there with the girls in war time Paris, to a world that few read about in novels. I loved it. I didn't want to get to the end and I certainly didn't want to put it down. It really should be made into a film. I can not wait to read the next Jan Harvey novel.

Penny Clarke

Amazon

 

Back in the 1940s Claudette an innocent young country girl is sent to Paris by the Resistance to work in a bordello frequented by senior Nazi officers to try and gain any information to pass on - while there she meets a high ranking Nazi officer and against all of her principles falls in love, but what will happen to her when Paris is liberated by the Allies.......not a story for the faint hearted!

 

A great book told in alternating chapters between the forties and present day, moving seamlessly between the two eras - plenty of intrigue, romance and historical information - a book that will stay with me long after reading.

Miss S A Colestop 

Amazon

Amazing, heartbreaking story that gives insight into the lives of some women during WW2. The author did an amazing job connecting the lives of the characters across the decades. I loved this book!!

Andrea Huffstetler

Net Galley

I love books that draw me in and make me feel like I am part of the book. This book did this and I felt like I was truly a character and not the reader of the book. I found myself crying (I didn't even realize it). I didn't want this book to end. I highly recommend this book. I will be following this author and be reading everything she writes.

Anne Gooch 

Net Galley

A wonderfully evocative novel tracing the lives of those fighting in the French Resistance in Paris. Moves seamlessly from the 1940's to present day and back again. Make yourself comfortable for this one; you won't be able to put it down!

Liz Nelson 

Amazon

 

Don't make the mistake of thinking this is just another love story - it isn't. The Seven Letters is actually a thumping good read: part mystery, part historical, and beautifully written. It's been meticulously researched, the picture the writer paints of 1940's Paris is vibrant and colourful, but she doesn't pull any punches - the subject matter isn't an easy one but the story she weaves is fascinating. The work done by the French resistance during WW2 is obviously well documented, but this book delves deeper and uncovers things that I never even knew went on, or even existed. Well worth a read, you won't be disappointed.

By NanaFitz

Amazon

Heather Donovan 

Net Galley

A truly excellent read. I was enthralled for the entire story, and even thought about it when I was going about my day. All in all this was an excellent read, thank you so much for allowing me to read this wonderful book!

 

(Edited to omit spolier)

Heather Donovan 

Net Galley

This is a well-researched, intelligent and above all highly readable novel, with several time frames that the author handles with great deftness within a carefully built structure. It's set in the less romantic side of the French Resistance, largely, and I can guarantee you will never be confused or bored for a second.

Tonstantouida

Amazon

 

Set in the Cotswolds and Paris, ‘The Seven Letters’ is a fusion of life in war torn France and the consequences of how it effected people for the rest of their lives.

The story telling in the book is so gripping it draws the reader in and it becomes very easy to relate to the characters and feel the emotion of their situations. It is a book you are desperate to finish to find out the answers, but at the same time wish it would go on forever. I loved it.

S A Logan

Amazon

Jan Harvey's portrayal of two characters living in the past and present time is what I liked most about this novel. She seamlessly puts the story together all while revealing it between Connie and Claudette. Their determination to finish their mission, unknowingly intertwined, is another element of the story that I liked. World War II novels are among my favourites to read and this one brought a fresh perspective of that time to the forefront and, for that, I applaud Jan Harvey.

Erin Leahy 

Net Galley

The Seven Letters is absolutely fantastic. I was on holiday and I literally could not put I down to the point where we found a pub with Wi-Fi so I could selfishly read a few more pages whilst my husband had a pint! My breath was literally taken away and I just couldn't read it fast enough. It was a perfect read to escape from my world into another, I've also learned a lot too. It is heartbreaking how some people suffered so much to fight for freedom.

I can see it becoming a best seller and a film, it has everything there, plus so much soul, its definitely a roller coaster ride read. I read 'til 3am one morning and it was during a storm! I highly recommend this amazing book.

Annette Rainbow

Amazon

The Seven Letters is much more than a reminder of the Second World War horrors and much more than the so-called 'ripping yarn' although it is both of those. It is a very readable story that challenges readers to think more deeply about loyalties and duties, to decide the difference between right and wrong in wartime and to take a broader view of the morality of wartime living. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

L.Forster

Amazon

 

Fascinating read. Amazing the things we still don't know about that period. Evocative. Buying one for my sister too.

Liz Doyle

Amazon

A brilliant read. Thoroughly enjoying this magnificent novel. Part set in my home town in Oxfordshire and part in Paris, the pace and sense of anticipation is delicious!

Amazon Customer

This book is filled with mystery, romance, and intrigue all in one. I loved this book. The plot developed very well and I couldn’t stop reading this book. I couldn’t wait to get to the next chapter after I read one. This book is amazing. I loved it and can’t wait to read more from this author in the future. I think fans of both mystery and history will live this book and devour it, I know I did.

Rose Pettit

Net Galley

I read Jan Harvey's The Seven Letters twice -- and doubled my enjoyment. Old enough to remember a World War Two childhood with clarity, and having retired 16 years ago to a part of France, Northern Provence, where the Resistance was particularly active, the book resonated with me from beginning to end.
 

Take a bunch of sadistic Nazi bullies, a dozen French prostitutes, a fierce Madam, a young, innocent virgin from the countryside, a good dollop of romance (some of it steamy) throw in nasty wartime goings-on...give it all a good stir and you have a good story. Tell it well and end with a totally surprising mystery, as Jan Harvey did, and you get a fine book which deserves all the success a debut novelist dreams of. Can you better The Seven Letters, Jan Harvey? I'm waiting. 

Dr. Bill Larkworthy

Amazon

I received this through Goodreads Giveaways. What a wonderful book, I loved it.!!
Two women, one in the present and one who lived during the Second World War and how their lives became intertwined. I am not going to spoil the book for anyone by writing about the plot. From the shocking prologue, this is a totally gripping book, fantastic plot and characters. The historical content is well researched and the book is beautifully written.You find yourself drawn into the characters lives,I did not want it to end!!
A stunning debut novel. Highly recommended.

Caroline

Good Reads

A book that you can just whiz through but haunts you for a long time after. Full of compassion as well as the horror of historical detail in WW2.

Zoe Millward 

Amazon

Was totally hooked by the second page of this fantastic book Jan has a way of reeling you in from the beginning with the many twists and turns this story took from the sheer opulence of the life the army officers lived to the gutter level of the ladies of the night try to keep body and soul together.fascinating history at the same time can highly recommend this book would have given more stars if i could definitely 10/10.

Miss J McKinlayon

Amazon

A great read.Couldn't put it down. Hope there will be more books by this author.

Maureen Bailey

Amazon

Very much enjoyed the whole concept of the book with the two related narratives in very different eras. The author has a wonderful eye for authenic detail, and also an imagination to produce a real page turner.

Marjorie C

Amazon

A really enjoyable read, making history come alive and linking it to today

Set between WWII Paris and modern day Cotswolds, The Seven Letters is a powerful story of love, war, bravery, survival and the effect actions taken during the war can have on future generations.

Sue

Amazon



The emotion and, sometimes, stark images created by Jan Harvey's descriptive story telling is most prominent through the historical chapters telling the story of Claudette Bourvil's hard and courageous life. Recruited by the French Resistance, Claudette is sent to work undercover as a maid in a Bordello in Paris. She quickly realises that this is not the Gentleman's Club the exterior conveys but it is, in fact, owned by the German Army, making the prostitutes and Madame Odile, working there, Horizontal Collaborators. Jan Harvey creates vivid and often harrowing images of how these women were treated by both the soldiers and the French citizens, some of which will stay with for me a long time.

The modern day story is just as powerful but eases on its intensity - which is probably just as well as I would have been a wreck by the end! From the very sad scene at the beginning of Connie Webber's story, to the uncovering of Freddy's family's past, I was just as curious to find out how this part of the story panned out.

Jan Harvey has a way of writing with deep emotion and rich description whilst still allowing for the story to flow well and with ease. I really enjoyed this story and will definitely look out for future books from this author.

CupCake

Amazon

An excellent read. Really intriguing and captivating. I couldn't put it down once started and I loved the linked scenarios from the present day to the past.
Highly recommend.

Helen Slater

Amazon

This book was amazing from start to finish, I loved it, the story line was brilliant it keeps you wanting to get to the next chapter to find out what is going to happen next, I found that I rushed to the end and then was sorry I had finished this amazing book, I brought this book because I enjoyed the slow death of Maxwell Carrick another book by this author, I didn’t think that she could have written another book as good, but she really has, just amazing. I would highly recommend the seven letters to anyone who wants to read a truly brilliant book.

One person found this helpful

Julie M

Amazon

This was a great debut novel. The characters were so real and beautifully created. Kept me up late and I'd finished it within the week which is unusual for me. I couldn't quite reconcile the two time zones though. The present one seemed a bit disjointed but the past truly came alive, I could have almost been there to experience the pain and sadness this side of the story was superb. Well done Jan, will be starting on The Slow Death of Matthew Carrick very soon.

Helpful

Tessa

Amazon

Jan Harvey has a captivating way of enticing one to turn the page. Good story line and an interesting presentation. Definitely one to be recommended.

Janet Warwick

Amazon

Brilliant novel. After a few lacklustre reads, this book was a breath of fresh air that kept me riveted throughout. I couldn’t read it quick enough, I was that desperate to unravel the many threads of the complex storyline.

I’ve always found wartime Paris to have an essence of romance within the fiction world - this was just that but a whole lot grittier and showed a side of the heavily occupied city rarely discussed in history. The story is told both in modern and historical chapters and the stories weave together as the plot develops - something I have found can only be achieved well within this genre by a gifted writer.

Part of the modern day setting is based on the very village I live in in the Cotswolds, so that was a pleasant surprise and made me feel closer to the protagonists.

The writing here is incredibly vivid and I was able to paint scenes in my mind as I read. It’s a dramatic, romantic and features everything I enjoy about historical fiction, albeit based on actual events. I would recommend this to just about anyone.

Laura Ellison

Amazon

This is certainly one of the best books I have read in a long time. A time-hop between modern day England and World War 2 occupied France , the shocking opener gripped and fascinated me from the start. 'The Horizontal Collaborators' , working in the high class Bordellos of Paris, were a group of people of whom I knew little. Jan Harvey tells her well researched novel with great sensitivity and skill. Through the eyes of a brave but naive undercover Resistance fighter, the sights, sounds and smells of this world are brought vividly life. Twists and turns in this skilfully drawn plot keep the reader guessing until the end of a novel that will not disappoint.

ALC

Amazon

I enjoyed this book so much. You can tell that the author has gone to a lot of trouble to really research this part of history. I couldn't wait to finish it to see what happened to the characters. I thought I'd guessed a lot of the plot but then it took me in a different direction so it really kept me interested all the way. I don't get a lot of time to read but I made time to finish this book as I was so intrigued as to what would/did happen to the characters. Well done. I would highly recommend this book

Vikki Thomas

The Seven Letters is a fascinating read and impossible to put down.
It is heartbreaking at times and the characters, and what happens to them, will stay with you after you've finished. It would make a superb film, you can see all the scenes in your head because they are so vividly described.

J Kempe

The descriptive language used in the shaping of the characters, coupled with the picture of the physical environment of the Cotswolds and Paris in which they found themselves really brought this story to life for me. Jan Harvey's debut novel is well worth a read for those who enjoy a book in which you cannot wait to find out what will happen to the protagonists but do not want it to end. The Seven Letters is such a book. I look forward to her next book.

Amazon Review