The Book of Lost Names [Book Review]

July 21, 2020

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel (cover) Image: a young woman with her back to the camera stands on a bridge overlooking the Eiffel Tower holding an old book behind her back

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, France

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Inspired by true stories from WW11, a young Jewish woman who flees Paris with her mother after the arrest of her father finds herself committing to a forgery ring whose primary goal is to create documents that will help hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis. The story is told in dual timelines from the present-day perspective of Eva who is a semi-retired librarian living in Florida and the young Eva as she flees Paris and joins an underground forgery operation in a small mountain town near the Switzerland border. The Book of Lost Names becomes an important link between the two timelines.

My Thoughts:

Thanks, #netgalley #gallerybooks @gallerybooks for a complimentary e-ARC of #thebookoflostnames upon my request. All opinions in this review are completely my own.

Engaging: One aspect I appreciate about Kristin Harmel’s storytelling is that she engages me from the first page, and I never experience a lull as I am compelled to turn the pages. In this story, Eva is a likable character as well as independent, feisty, clever, smart, and brave.

Lots to Love: Other reasons I love The Book of Lost Names include the historical details about the forgery operation during the war, the inspiring people in the community and the Catholic priest who all risk their lives to help the Jewish people, the dedication and commitment to help innocent children, and…the love story.

Book Connections: I love when books “talk to each other” and as I read I thought of stories with similar themes like The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah that tells of an underground group dedicated to helping people (especially pilots) escape France, The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton that shares the story of a real-life hero rescuing children from the grip of the Nazis, and The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke that recounts one mother’s sacrifice to secure the safety of her young child from the Nazis.

The Ending: I need to note that even though The Book of Lost Names is a rewarding, compelling, and satisfying read, the emotional and dramatic ending requires a little suspension of disbelief.

Recommended: I enthusiastically recommend The Book of Lost Names for fans of page-turning and engaging historical fiction, for readers who appreciate WW11 stories, for those who love stories featuring inspirational and brave women, and certainly for book clubs. It’s one of my favorite WW11 histfic reads of the year and when I finished reading it, I thought “that was a satisfying read!” I love it when a story feels well worth the investment of time.

Related: My review of The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel

My Rating: 4.5  Stars

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-starhalf twinkle-twinkle-little-star

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel (cover) Image: a young woman stands on a bridge with a view of the Eiffel Tower in the background with her back to the camera holding an old book behind her back.....

The Book of Lost Names Information

Meet the Author, Kristin Harmel

Author, Kristin Harmel

Kristin Harmel is the #1 international bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of The Winemaker’s Wife, The Room on Rue Amelie, and a dozen other novels that have been translated into numerous languages and sold all over the world. Her latest is The Book of Lost Names.

A former reporter for PEOPLE magazine, Kristin has been writing professionally since the age of 16, when she began her career as a sportswriter, covering Major League Baseball and NHL hockey for a local magazine in Tampa Bay, Florida in the late 1990s. After stints covering health and lifestyle for American Baby, Men’s Health, and Woman’s Day, she became a reporter for PEOPLE magazine while still in college and spent more than a decade working for the publication, covering everything from the Super Bowl to high-profile murders to celebrity interviews with the likes of Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, OutKast, Justin Timberlake, and Patrick Dempsey. Her favorite stories at PEOPLE, however, were the “Heroes Among Us” features—tales of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. One of those features—the story of Holocaust-survivor-turned-philanthropist Henri Landwirth (whom both Walter Cronkite and John Glenn told Kristin was the most amazing person they’d ever known)—partially inspired Kristin’s 2012 novel, The Sweetness of Forgetting, which was a bestseller all over the world.

Kristin was born just outside Boston, Massachusetts and spent her childhood there, as well as in Columbus, Ohio, and St. Petersburg, Florida. After graduating with a degree in journalism (with a minor in Spanish) from the University of Florida, she spent time living in Paris and Los Angeles and now lives in Orlando, with her husband and young son. She travels frequently to France for book research (and—let’s be honest—for the pastries and wine) and writes a book a year for Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster.


Is The Book of Lost Names on your TBR or have you read it?

Have you read other books by Kristin Harmel?


12 Bloggers Each Recommend Summer’s ONE “Must-Read” Book 2020

One Great Summer Read over an image of ocean waves breaking on shore

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:

***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.



    • I had to read the author notes carefully to figure this out… seems to me that the character is imagined but the forgery activities were true…..she cited men who were forgers but because she probably wanted a woman character she had to imagine this one. Her wording in the notes is a bit tricky and at first I thought this was based on a real person which is my fav kind of character (like last train to London) but this character is imagined. This might be what you’re sensing?

      • Yes, that’s part of it. The other part is that I’m worried about a non-Jew portraying Jews, even non-religious ones. Finally, I know for a fact that hiding in the country wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Informers and collaborators were so prevalent that even a walk outside could be dangerous for the whole household.

      • It isn’t so much “own voices” but rather that when the authors aren’t Jewish, they far too often don’t do the simple research to get things right. Meg Clayton Waite isn’t Jewish, and yet there wasn’t even ONE thing wrong or out of place in Last Train to London.

      • I thought she had one thing wrong, with a man’s name, but then… she told me that the person in her book was a real person, and I even looked him up, and she was right!

  1. Wonderful review Carol. I am on the list at the library for this one and am anticipating getting it before the summer is out. It sounds like one I will like very much. It definitely ticks the boxes for me, even if the ending is a bit hard to believe.

Leave a Reply