Review: The Paris Notebook by Tessa Harris

I absolutely adore Tessa Harris! I have read some of her books over the years and I have yet to read a book by her that I haven’t enjoyed! Harris is probably best known for her mystery series, Dr Thomas Silkstone and Constance Piper series respectively. But the book that stands out most for me was her standalone historical fiction, Beneath a Starless Sky. I recall loving how well researched this particular book was, and how much I enjoyed getting to know the characters and exploring their forbidden love story.

So naturally when this new historical fiction novel came out but Harris, I was totally on board with reading it. I thought the plot sounded compelling as it features a new angle, on a report surfacing that Hitler was deemed mentally unfit for office. I thought this sounded so good. I know that Harris really researches her historical fiction books so I knew that I would not be disappointed in the historical details and content. For me that is half the battle, some authors focus more on the characters than historical details but as a historian I personally really respect the historical details and the pains and author goes through to get things ‘just right’.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, I am sure you have seen Tessa Harris’s books around the blog-o-spear. It’s a rare treat to have an author who writes both historical mysteries AND historical fiction. When I picked this one up I had no doubt I would find something special inside and I couldn’t wait to start reading. If you love historical fiction, this book and author are certainly one to watch! Be sure to add to your TBR list immediately!


When Katja Heinz secures a job as a typist at Doctor Viktor’s clinic, she doesn’t expect to be copying top secret medical records from a notebook.

At the end of the first world war, Doctor Viktor treated soldiers for psychological disorders. One of the patients was none other than Adolf Hitler. . .

The notes in his possession declare Hitler unfit for office – a secret that could destroy the Führer’s reputation, and change the course of the war if exposed. . .

With the notebook hidden in her hat box, Katja and Doctor Viktor travel to Paris. Seeking refuge in the Shakespeare and Company bookshop, they hope to find a publisher brave enough to print the controversial script.

But Katja is being watched. Nazi spies in Paris have discovered her plan. They will stop at nothing to destroy the notebook and silence those who know of the secret hidden inside. (summary from Goodreads)


One of the things I found most interesting in this one was the timing. I think a lot of readers forget that between WWI and WWII there was this kind of weird timeline where Germany was reeling from WWI but far from the superpower it would become in WWII. This timing made it perfect for someone like Hitler and the Nazi regime to step in and take root. I think a lot of readers get sucked into a book being firmly a WWI book or a WWII book. This one focuses right in that time between the wars where Doctor Viktor meets Adolf Hitler and starts keeping notes on his psychological state. Which in the right hands could be explosive information! As Hitler rises to power, the threat of this information being made public starts to become more and more problematic and that’s where we find our characters Katja and Doctor Viktor.

This plot/story has multiple layers. One thing I enjoyed was the level of suspense. Harris has written historical mysteries as well, so naturally she is great at creating a sense of urgency and suspense within the story. I thought this was an unexpected treat as it read very much like a suspense novel with danger lurking around each corner. But what really worked for me was that she didn’t sacrifice character development to achieve suspense. Often with suspenseful books, there is less in the way of character development and more in creating suspenseful situations. In this book, I felt like the beginning really layer the foundation for the characters and gave the readers time to form connections and then as the story went on, things ramped up in the suspense department and it really created this balanced sense of urgency and compassion for the characters that felt unique to me.

The historical content and implications of something like this was really fascinating and will give readers a lot to think on and process. I think this would be a great book club read as well. There are elements of friendship, love, loss, and of course suspense laced throughout the book. I think readers will find a lot that can be pulled out of this one for discussion, making it a great book club pick! I personally loved this book and I actually think I liked it better than Beneath a Starless Sky. It was a well balanced novel with a lot of reader buy-in, meaning a lot of opportunity for reader investment. I loved exploring the history and am eager to read more books by Harris in the future. So well written and enjoyable, do not miss this beautiful book!

Book Info and Rating

Format: 352 pages, Paperback

Expected publication: April 13, 2023 by HQ Digital

ISBN: 9780008564445 (ISBN10: 0008564442)

Free review copy provided by author and publisher, HQ Digital, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: historical fiction


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