Get new blog posts sent directly to your email inbox!

Today in World War II History

Read Today's Article

Winter in Wartime Paris

Bonjour! We may not be able to travel to France this year, but we’d like to invite you to journey across France with us through our World War II novels. I’m teaming up with Melanie Dobson and Liz Tolsma (two of my favorite authors!) for the Winter in France Giveaway from January 22-29, 2022!

We’re kicking off today, January 22, with a Facebook Live event on Liz Tolsma’s page at 10 am PST/1 pm EST. We’ll share some of our stories behind our books, answer questions, and give away our novels and a few French treats. The video will be available for viewing afterward, but certain giveaways will be conducted lvie.

During the week of January 22-29, readers can take a tour of our blogs about France (see my article below!) and then sign up to win our grand prize (a basket filled with French goodies) and all three books. Five other winners will be able to choose which historical novel they’d like to receive.

MAKE SURE TO LEAVE A COMMENT ON MY BLOG POST BELOW TO ENTER THE MAIN GIVEAWAY!

Then, on January 29th at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET, we’ll conclude with a grand finale on Liz Tolsma’s Facebook page to announce the winners and answer any other reader questions about our journey.

Here’s more about our books:

A Photojournalist Risks Her Life to Save a Very Special Child 

Journalist Nellie Wilkerson has spent the bulk of the war in London, photographing mothers standing in milk lines—and she’s bored. She jumps at the chance to go to France, where the Allied forces recently landed. There she enlists Jean-Paul Breslau of the French underground to take her to the frontlines. On the journey, they stumble upon a great tragedy, leaving a girl with special needs being orphaned.

Can Nellie and Jean-Paul see the child to a safe haven while being pursued by the Nazis, who are pressed by the advancing Allies and determined to destroy all they can before they flee?

 

In this gripping WWII time-slip novel from the author whose books have been called “propulsive” and a “must-read” (Publishers Weekly), Grace Tonquin is an American Quaker who works tirelessly in Vichy France to rescue Jewish children from the Nazis. After crossing the treacherous Pyrénées, Grace returns home to Oregon with a brother and sister whose parents were lost during the war. Though Grace and her husband love Élias and Marguerite as their own, echoes of Grace’s past and trauma from the Holocaust tear the Tonquin family apart.

More than 50 years after they disappear, Addie Hoult arrives at Tonquin Lake, hoping to find the Tonquin family. For Addie, the mystery is a matter of life and death for her beloved mentor Charlie, who is battling a genetic disease. Though Charlie refuses to discuss his ties to the elusive Tonquins, finding them is the only way to save his life and mend the wounds from his broken past.

 

Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah SundinAs the Nazis march toward Paris in 1940, American ballerina Lucie Girard buys her favorite English-language bookstore to allow the Jewish owners to escape. Lucie struggles to run Green Leaf Books due to oppressive German laws and harsh conditions, but she finds a way to aid the resistance by passing secret messages between the pages of her books.

Widower Paul Aubrey wants nothing more than to return to the States with his little girl, but the US Army convinces him to keep his factory running and obtain military information from his German customers. As the war rages on, Paul offers his own resistance by sabotaging his product and hiding British airmen in his factory. After they meet in the bookstore, Paul and Lucie are drawn to each other, but she rejects him when she discovers he sells to the Germans. And for Paul to win her trust would mean betraying his mission.

Winter in Wartime Paris

The City of Lights is renowned for its beauty and charm, and for food, fashion, and art. During World War II, Nazi-occupied Paris was blacked out, food was scarce and rationed, and fashions were altered. When I was researching wartime Paris for Until Leaves Fall in Paris, I was struck by the difficult conditions people endured – but also how they followed “Système D”système de débrouillage – the system of getting by. Parisians found ways to bring color into their darkened world – and even thumb their noses at the German occupiers.

Food and Rationing

German Luftwaffe officers at café on Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris, 1941 (German Federal Archive: Bild 101I-247-0775-38 / Langhaus / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

German Luftwaffe officers at café on Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris, 1941 (German Federal Archive: Bild 101I-247-0775-38 / Langhaus / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

What would Paris be without fine food? Even before the German invasion, the French government instituted food rationing. After the Germans occupied Paris, rationing intensified. Most staples were rationed – meat and fish, milk and cheese, eggs, coffee, sugar, butter and oils, bread, and wine. To obtain your ration meant standing in long lines at the bakery, the butcher, the creamery, the greengrocer – and more. If the store actually had foods in stock.

Ration coupons were issued according to age, with extra rations for those in agricultural work or manual labor. Still, the average adult received rations providing only 1200 calories per day. The average Parisian lost 4-8 kg during the war, and malnutrition and anemia were rampant.

To get by, Parisians visited the country, where food was less scarce, or they bought on the black market. For the wealthy, eating at pricey restaurants provided an escape. Ersatz coffee made from barley or chicory provided an imperfect alternative.

Energy

Winter in Paris during World War II was cold. The winter of 1940-41 was one of the coldest on record in France, and snow fell in Paris in December 1941, leading to sledding down hills.

French citizens received little to no coal or heating oil. The supply of electricity was erratic, and cooking gas was often provided only during meal preparation times. Families often slept in the kitchen for warmth and kept overcoats on inside.

Transportation

Velo-taxis in Paris, spring 1945 (Imperial War Museum: D 24176)

Velo-taxis in Paris, spring 1945 (Imperial War Museum: D 24176)

Most tourists to Paris love to visit the Arc de Triomphe and watch the cars and taxis hurtling around the roundabout with much honking of horns. During the war, the streets of Paris were all but silent.

Late-model automobiles were requisitioned, and driving permits were issued only to Germans, French physicians, midwives, firemen – and some influential collaborators (called collabos by the French).

Most people got around by foot or bicycle. The Métro ran, but stops were often closed, and sometimes the system shut down due to lack of electricity, especially later in the war. Bicycle-driven vélo-taxis and horse-drawn carriages helped people get around.

Fashion

"Paris Book Stalls on the Left Bank," showing US soldiers after the liberation of Paris - and Parisiennes in bright fashions, by Army Artist Gladys Rockmore Davis (US Army Center of Military History)

“Paris Book Stalls on the Left Bank,” showing US soldiers after the liberation of Paris – and Parisiennes in bright fashions, by Army Artist Gladys Rockmore Davis (US Army Center of Military History)

The fashion houses of Paris continued to produce beautiful couture garments – many of which were sent to Germany.

But the average Parisienne had to get by. Wool, silk, and leather were all shipped to Germany, so most garments were made of rayon or fibranne – or made from old garments or blankets. Since leather shoes weren’t available, women wore platform shoes with thick soles of wood or cork, which wore down over time.

Fashion was one way the women of Paris thumbed their noses at the Germans. Hats and turbans in vibrant shades and outrageous styles allowed women to show their individual style. Although trousers were outlawed in France, women wore them anyway or chose culottes that looked like skirts. Women wore their skirts shorter and fuller than in other areas of the world, partly to help in riding their bicycles – and partly to scandalize the Germans.

Système D

Despite these everyday difficulties – and the far greater difficulties of living under the terror of Nazi occupation – the average Frenchman and Frenchwoman got by. They made do in horrific circumstances. While the City of Lights was dimmed, it never lost its charm.

Please leave a comment below before entering the main giveaway!

100 responses to “Winter in Wartime Paris”

  1. Kimberly Linaburg says:

    Thanks so much for the chance to win in your giveaway. I love your books Sarah and can’t wait to read your new one!

  2. Amy (Amada) says:

    WOW such a lovely giveaway! And important things from history. Scary though how these days are starting to look like those days are starting all over again. I believe that WWII was a warning and preview if what the Tribulation will be like.

  3. Bridgette S says:

    Thank you for this giveaway!

  4. Cindi Hoppes says:

    This is so fun and interesting! My paternal grandmother came to Ellis Island from Calais, France.
    The historical aspects of your post are enjoyable to learn…
    Thank you, Cindi

  5. Lynne says:

    What wonderful book covers! Congrats to all.

  6. Rachael Merritt says:

    I have preordered your next book.Eagerly awaiting it.

  7. Virginia Pomeroy says:

    Wow, great information! I preordered your book. Can’t wait to read it.

  8. LD says:

    These books look great! Can’t wait to delve in.

  9. Shannon Kraus says:

    Ms. Sundin, Your books are incredible! I have enjoyed every single one. I read Until Leaves Fall in Paris on NetGalley and it was amazing. I ordered a copy so that I can have it on my shelf! I am a history major and WWII is my specialization. You write with such depth and detail. Thank you for sharing your writing talent with all of us!

  10. Betsy T. says:

    I’m very much looking forward to reading this latest book. I visited Paris on a missions trip once. We didn’t get much time to sightsee but I loved seeing the history of it everywhere we went.

  11. Diane Yancy says:

    I love your books! Since my dad was a part of Patton’s army and helped to liberate Germany, your stories have helped me to understand him better and a part of his life he would not share with us.

  12. Brandi says:

    This is such a fantastic collaboration. I love all the historical knowledge shared both in the photos and in the stories created. There is so much rich history to be gleaned and I love how you have brought it to life.

  13. Bridget G. says:

    Really interesting post! Thanks for sharing it! 🙂 I always enjoy your writing and love your books. Both of my grandfathers served in WWII, one was stationed in the Pacific and and the other in Alaska, so learning about life in that era is enjoyable to me. 🙂

  14. I watched the replay as I couldn’t find the correct Facebook page. So happy I finally found it. I love WWII novels.
    My question in response to the request in order to enter the give away is: what is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Thank you.

  15. Abigail Allen says:

    I have read all three books through Net Galley. Everyone is excellent and sheds light on different aspects of WWII.

  16. Cathy says:

    Small instances of resistance in the wearing of various fashions – good for them! I found in my father’s paperwork, when he passed away, an old WWII ration book that was my then elderly G-Grandmother’s, a fascinating genealogical “find”. Of course, that was here in the States, so it was nothing compared to those in the line of fire or occupation.

  17. Christianne McCall says:

    I can’t wait to go back to Paris someday!

  18. Rebekah says:

    These books all sound interesting.

  19. Janice Laird says:

    Great details! Yes, the French were used to provide luxuries for the Germans. And I’ve read about the fuller skirts and the outrageous hairstyles. French women grew their hair long on purpose. The bigger hair, the better! (Like the ’80s, :)) Enter me in the giveaway, please

  20. Megan says:

    That’s fascinating! I imagine that was such a difficult time, but it’s nice to see they still found ways to make the best of it.

  21. Sarah says:

    Wow!! I love how all the world came together to fight evil!! And how even when they could’t fight much they still found ways to thumb their noses at the Germans!!!! Thanks for this very generous giveaway!!!

  22. Una Ireland says:

    I like the chance to win the giveaway. I also like your last name since it’s the same as my maiden name.

  23. Stephanie H. says:

    I look forward to reading all three of these books based on true events. Thanks for the chance of winning a copy of our own!

  24. Melanie says:

    I am beyond excited to read your newest book!!! I have loved all of your books and especially the audio versions!!! This is an incredible giveaway! Cheers to you!

  25. Emily S says:

    All 3 books look amazing! I can’t wait to read them! I’ve already preordered yours, of course, but I’m excited to discover two new authors!

  26. Caryl Kane says:

    Sarah, You’re one of my favorite authors! I’m looking forward to reading Until Leaves Fall in Paris.

  27. Pam K. says:

    All three of these books are ones I would enjoy reading. I really appreciate all the research necessary to bring us historically accurate novels. Thanks also for this wonderful giveaway.

  28. Donna says:

    I love your books. Thank you for sharing a little about the French during WWII.

  29. Judith Jennings says:

    What a wonderful giveaway of some fabulous books! Would love to win!! Thank you fir offering this giveaway!!

  30. Connie Hendryx says:

    Thanks for the giveaway!! Love your posts!

  31. bn100 says:

    fun collaboration

  32. Lisa Hudson says:

    Excellent background research, as usual, Sarah! Each year I eagerly anticipate your new release because I know it is going to be spectacular! Thank you for participating in this collaboration and the video this morning.

  33. Melody Mccaslin says:

    Thank you for this giveaway. I love your books and look forward to reading When leaves fall in Paris. I also love your posts.

  34. Faith Marshall says:

    I love learning about World War II. For a little while, I contacted Pearl Harbor survivors and received letters and autographs from them. I also recently talked to a veteran who occupied Germany for a year towards the end of the war and was about to transport to Japan for another attack when the atomic bomb was then dropped.

    I also love France! I have pre-ordered Until Leaves Fall in Paris and look forward to receiving it! 🙂

  35. Laura says:

    WWII history is so fascinating. It was incredible to hear Isabelle’s stories on the video!

  36. Erika Luther says:

    Looking forward to reading these books.

  37. Martha says:

    Very interesting information about how life in Paris changed. It’s interesting how the Parisians found ways to snub the Germans. Thank you for doing the giveaway.

  38. Jeanette Fallon says:

    I can’t thank you enough for the hours of enjoyment you give me.

  39. Denise Turner says:

    I love all the information about France and looking forward to reading each of theses books!

  40. Becca F says:

    Looking forward to your next book!! Love all of your books!!

  41. Amy Donahue says:

    I love historical fiction and these books all sound exciting and interesting!

  42. Dee says:

    What a wonderful opportunity to read more WWII books by an outstanding author!

  43. I love the historical background you provide. You make the time period come to life. says:

    Allyson

  44. Kimberly V says:

    Thanks for introducing me to some new authors. All of these books look amazing. I love learning something new each time I read. I can’t imagine what it would actually have been like to experience wartime Paris. Just to read that the streets were silent is haunting.

  45. Sabrina says:

    It always amazes me to read about WWII history. Your writing, and books are some of my favorite, and I look forward to reading “Until Leaves Fall in Paris”. 😊 Thank you for sharing your gift of storytelling to all of us!

  46. Jennifer Erickson says:

    World War II, Paris, and a bookshop: I cannot imagine a better recipe for the perfect read! I cannot wait to read “Until Leaves Fall in Paris!” Thank you, Sarah, for stewarding your storytelling as a gift to the world!

  47. Nancy says:

    Love historical fiction! Thanks.

  48. susan atkins says:

    I love reading WW11 history .Your books are always good reading-thank you!

  49. Connie Scruggs says:

    It’s hard to imagine living in a place that has been taken over by another government. The people who lived through it were very brave and I feel for them. I pray I never have to go through anything like that.

  50. Phyllis Nisle says:

    Historical fiction is my favorite genre. Your books make history come alive and personal. I appreciate all of the research you put into your writing and how you insert little tidbits you learn as you research into your books.

  51. Vicki Wurgler says:

    I enjoy reading about WWII, you gave some interesting facts. I like how the women thumbed their noses at the Germans in their fashion

  52. Ellen Gray says:

    Thank you for your history lessons. We forget how hard life was for those in Europe during WWII. I enjoy al your books. Thanks for the glimpse into people’s lives.

  53. Jan Tomalis says:

    Wonderful covers! I recently found how much I love this period in history and I can’t get enough. Thanks so much for the chance!

  54. Angela Wright says:

    Such interesting glimpses into wartime Paris!! Thank you for all the research you do that makes your books so wonderful!! I can’t wait to read WHEN LEAVES FALL IN PARIS!!

  55. Rochelle says:

    Having been to Paris multiple times, I’m so excited about these books!!

  56. Angela Johnson says:

    I enjoyed this and all of your daily WWII emails… thank you for having this giveaway!

  57. Donna Irvin says:

    I love the history lessons in the blog posts! I have been fortunate in that I have been to France, such history! Can’t wait for the book!

  58. Olivia Rieckenberg says:

    This awesome, thankyou so much for the chance to enter this giveaway!

  59. Natalie Maruschak says:

    I am so excited to get to read all of these books after I return to the States this summer from my study abroad and my trip to Paris. I’ve been waiting for this new book forever and cannot wait to read it again and again as I do with all of Sarah’s books.

  60. Linda Leonard says:

    Thank you for the post. Love to read about the strength people exhibit when trying to save the lives of others.

  61. Glenda Quinlan says:

    I appreciate the information provided about France in WW II during the German occupation..

  62. Kelly Pilch says:

    I cannot wait to read this book!!

  63. Elizabeth Litton says:

    Such interesting information! I’d definitely have a hard time with the food rationing. 😀

  64. Victoria La Pere says:

    I enjoyed reading this and can’t even imagine how cold the winter in Paris was during World War II! Not only that, but their lack of resources for heat. Makes me feel very appreciative of the things we have now that we take for granted!

    Looking forward to your new book, Sarah!

  65. Mary Kay Moody says:

    I am repeatedly amazed at the tenacity and creativity of the people in war-torn Europe. We’ve seen movies about an invasion & occupation–but the unrelenting impact on daily life is astounding. Food & energy shortages sound so hard to endure–but many did AND fought in ways to hinder the enemy and help innocents. Thanks for this peek into their life, Sarah. And for this launch event & giveaway. Each books sounds so intriguing.

  66. jeanna_massman@hotmail.com says:

    I was born in the fifties so people were still recovering from WWII. Everyone had a father, uncle, cousin, neighbor or someone else they knew who had fought in the war. It’s interesting to read books that help put their experiences in perspective.

  67. Elaine says:

    Thank you so much for all that information about wartime France – so fascinating! Oh, and am so pleased that you, Liz and Melanie have these totally amazing historical novels out for readers – looking forward to these intriguing treats! I think I’m going to be dropping not very subtle hints to my teenagers to buy them for my birthday at the start of March…if I can wait that long!! And maybe introduce them to your great writing too! Merci beaucoup!

  68. Angie says:

    Wow! Can’t wait to read!! Thank you for a chance to win!!

  69. Michele says:

    I am so excited about these books! Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

  70. So looking forward to reading this next book -- I love the historical detail and character interactions. Thanks also for the glimpse into wartime France at Christmas! says:

    Leeanna

  71. Alicia Haney says:

    Wow , the book covers are beautiful and the books sound very intriguing! Thank you so much for sharing about your books and thank you for the chance. Congratulations to you all.

  72. Yvonne Kays says:

    Enjoyed the lively conversation with Sarah and Melanie on Saturday – what a thoughtful way to promote all your WWII novels set in France! Looking forward to reading each of them!

  73. Yvonne Kays says:

    Enjoyed the lively Saturday conversation with Melanie and Liz – great idea! I’m waiting for “Until Leaves Fall in Paris” to arrive! Enjoy your novels so much.

  74. Anne says:

    Fascinating and captivating history which is meaningful. The books look memorable and are treasures to be enjoyed and cherished. Thanks for your lovely giveaway.

  75. Becky D. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful collection with us. I’ve learned more from great historical fiction writers than I ever did in history class…y’all truly bring history to life. Looking to forward to read these soon!! 🥰📚

  76. Karis says:

    As a bookaholic, this sounds interesting. Thanks for this giveaway.

  77. Mary says:

    I have read other books and find what you share to be what they said also. May we never be in such straights here in America.
    But it was difficult here in WWII also.

  78. Debbie Troxell says:

    We have so much to be thankful for!

  79. Anna B. says:

    “Women wore their skirts shorter … partly to scandalize the Germans.” Way to go, ladies! Sticking it to the man!

    Can’t wait to Read Until Leaves Fall in Paris!

  80. Perrianne Askew says:

    It’s hard for those of us who did not grow up during the war to imagine what life must have been like back then. I’m glad we have these fantastic authors with a love of history and research to take us back to the era and help us learn more about history.

  81. Mary Beth Handley says:

    Thanks so much for sharing and participating in this giveaway! I love historical fiction and all the incredible events to be learned in it.

  82. Amy Bradsher says:

    Love all the real info you put into your books. They’re fun to read but quite informative.

  83. Elizabeth S says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your history research! From a young age I’ve been fascinated with the many events of WWII and love hearing the heroic stories. I was deeply touched by the guest speaker you had on FB Live on the 22nd, so I hope she knows that her stories and gratitude were unexpected but very powerful. Thank you again!

  84. Evelyn Lukey says:

    Thank you for hosting this giveaway

  85. Latisha says:

    I can’t wait to read all of these!

  86. Sarah Evankovich says:

    While I haven’t had a chance to read any of your books yet, this one looks & sounds AMAZING!! Since I have a rather large TBR pile, I’ll have to add this to my Amazon wish list & maybe, I’ll get it for my birthday next month.

  87. Shyrel Oneal says:

    I really enjoyed the FB Live, looking forward to the next one! Also looking forward to reading all three books! Thank you!

  88. Nancy Latina says:

    Thank you for your well prepared presentation last Saturday. The research for all three of these historical novels must have been so interesting yet heartbreaking at times as well. I will look forward to future works.

  89. Linda says:

    Because of this contest, I will be reading and learning about a part of history of which I am woefully ignorant. Thank you!

  90. Merry Jo Hynous says:

    What an education you have given us regarding Paris and its residents during World War II. We think we have it hard in the 21st century. However, those living during under German occupation suffered greatly. We have nothing to complain about when thinking of the struggles they faced just to survive, while at the same time protesting the occupation in their own way. Thank you.

  91. Susanne says:

    These stories sound great!

  92. Kay Murillo says:

    My great aunt left me a tin box with letters, family history and small keepsakes. I also found their WWII food ration coupons. They are amount my most treasured items from her.

  93. Jessy says:

    So much interesting information!

  94. Aspasia says:

    I admire the resilience of the French during World War II. I especially love that the fashion houses of Paris continued to produce beautiful couture garments during a devastating time. I look forward to reading your novels!

  95. Karen says:

    How easily we take for granted (and waste) the things that were scarce for them!

  96. Tina Rice says:

    I love your books Sarah and can’t wait to read your new one!
    Thanks so much for the chance to win in your giveaway.

  97. Mallori N. says:

    What an interesting look at Parisian life during WWII and how one city responded to German occupation.

  98. StuffSmart says:

    I am adding these to my TBR pile.

  99. Amy hatcher says:

    Love the books.

Until Leaves Fall In Paris
“Sundin is a master at her craft, and avid readers will devour this in one sitting.”
—Library Journal starred review
NOW AVAILABLE!

A Free Gift for You

Make It Do - The US Home Front in World War II

When you subscribe to my monthly enewsletter, you’ll also receive “Make It Do – The US Home Front in World War II,” a collection of my popular blog posts. As a subscriber, you’ll also be the first to learn about my upcoming novels.