Friday Reads – The Paris Sister by Adrienne Chinn

My featured book this week is the historical novel, The Paris Sister, by International Bestseller, Adrienne Chinn. Isn’t the cover evocative? Grab yourself a cuppa, get cosy and let’s find out more about the story and Adrienne’s writing life.


Three sisters separated by distance but bound by love

The Fry sisters enter the Roaring Twenties forever changed by their experiences during the Great War. Now, as each of their lives unfold in different corners of the globe, they come to realise that the most important bond is that of family.

Desperate to save the man she loves, Etta leaves behind the life she has made for herself in Capri and enters the decadent world of Parisian society with all its secrets and scandals. Celie’s new life on the Canadian prairies brings mixed blessings – a daughter to adore, but a husband who isn’t the man who holds her heart. In Egypt, Jessie’s world is forever changed by a devastating loss.

And back in London – where each of their adventures began – their mother Christina watches as the pieces of her carefully orchestrated existence begin to shatter … with implications for them all.

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It sounds exciting doesn’t it? Here’s a short extract to whet your appetite further.


The room hums with murmurs and the scraping of chair legs on the marble floor. A door opens and Carlo is ushered into the room and over to a stand. The suit she’d brought him for the trial hangs off him, and his newly-cut hair and shaven face reveal the lines and hollows the months of sleepless nights and worry have etched. She glances at his hands, which he holds in front of him as the metal of the handcuffs gleam in the room’s electric light. He looks over at the gallery, scanning the faces until his eyes rest on Paolo. His son turns his head away and whispers to his grandmother, who shakes her head and puts a black-gloved finger to her lips.

Carlo’s eyes find hers, and again, like all the times before, her heart leaps. His brown eyes look into hers – the eyes of a wounded animal, of a creature resigned to its fate. The judge slams down his gavel, and the courtroom falls silent.

Etta watches the proceedings as if through water. The judge blurs and his words ebb and flow, now quiet, suddenly loud, then quiet again. She sees Carlo raise his hands to his face and shake his head. A policeman takes hold of his arm and leads him toward a door. She stands and hears herself cry out, and he turns his head.

‘Ti amo, Etta mia,’ he shouts. Then he is gone.

Welcome to my blog, Adrienne. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes! I remember being fascinated by books as a very young child – I was forever pulling them off my parents’ shelves. My mother said ‘book’ was my first word after ‘Maaa’ and ‘Daaa’. She said I called all my favourite things ‘book’! I think I found books quite magical things, and I became a voracious reader. As I got older, I wanted to be a part of that world, so I started to write stories.

What a lovely story to share. Has any author inspired you?

So many! I went through a big Sir Walter Scott period as a teenager, especially Ivanhoe and The Talisman, as well as Jack London with Call of the Wild and White Fang. I love F. Scott Fitzgerald, and, being Canadian, writers like Margaret Atwood, Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro and Leonard Cohen. Canada’s quite a literary country! I adored Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind as a teenager as well as Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, and everything by Anya Seton. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really enjoyed Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre, anything by Isabel Allende and Elif Shafak, and, most recently Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. … So many good books, so little time!

What do you like writing most?

I like writing novels, no question. I love playing with time – mixing contemporary with historical, dreams with thoughts and reality. I love writing dialogue – I’m thinking of having a go a writing a play. I can hear my characters talk in my head, and they all have different voices. I like humour and I like tragedy. I like writing flawed characters. I like writing all genders and ages, and I like including dogs and cats.

You evidently really enjoy writing. Do you have a special place for writing?

I write in an old Lloyd Loom chair by my bedroom window, with my laptop on my lap and my notes spread out on the bed and floor around me. I love hearing the birds and the sound of kids playing in the local park as I write. I can’t write with music on, although, when I travel I love to write in cafes.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Plotter!!! I work out detailed character biographies including photos, then I create a 2-sentence chapter breakdown for the whole book, colour-coding each chapter for each main character. But, when I settle down to write a chapter, I let my pantser side have some freedom within the parameters of what I need to achieve in that chapter. Sometimes, interesting things happen which changes the direction of the story, and I work with that rather than stay strictly to the chapter outline. A fantastic book called Take Off Your Pants! By Libby Hawker has helped me no end.

Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?

Absolutely! My first book, The Lost Letter, was inspired by my experiences in Morocco; and my second book, The English Wife, was set in Newfoundland where I was born, and was inspired by the love story of my Uncle Gus Edwards and his English war bride Stephanie whom he met when he was stationed in Norwich during WWII. The Three Fry Sisters series is very much inspired by the lives of my English grandmother, Edith Adelaide Fry Chinn, and my two great-aunts, Ettie Chinn and Jessie Chinn.

It sounds like you have some fascinating family stories to draw on. What are you writing at the moment?

I’m currently editing my third novel in the Three Fry Sisters series, the first of which are Love in a Time of War which is set during WWI, and The Paris Sister, set during the 1920s. The third book continues the stories of Celie, Jessie and Etta Fry and their Anglo-Italian mother, Christina, through the 1930s, and the final book, set during WWII, will complete the series.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m lucky enough to have several old photo albums from the late 1800s and early 1900s of my Chinn and Fry ancestors, and I would look at the faces of my grandmother, Edith, and my great-aunts, Jessie and Ettie, and wonder about the lives they’d led. Edith married a WWI war veteran just before the war, and, once the war was over, and, having enough of Europe, he took his wife and two infant children (my father being one) out to Alberta, Canada on a war veteran’s land scheme where he decided to become a farmer. I also had a casual snapshot of Great-Aunt Ettie in her nursing uniform sewing in an army tent in Egypt during WWI, and Great-Aunt Jessie dressed in bohemian clothes in the early 1900s. She had been engaged to a young German before the war, but he went back to Germany when the war started and was killed – which she only found out once the war ended. Neither she nor Ettie ever married. So much changed for women from 1913 through 1945, and I was keen to explore these changes through the stories of the Fry sisters.

What time of the day do you write best?

I prefer to write from around 11am through to 6 or 7pm, with a short ½ hour break for lunch. I can’t write after that. My brain goes to sleep after 7! I aim for 1,000 words a day (4 pages). I work part-time, so I write 4 days a week. I fit in grocery shopping, housework, errands, etc, from 9-11 on these days.

 What are your hobbies?

I adore gardening – my father was a very keen gardener and I was always out in the garden with him. He learnt it from his father, so I feel I’m keeping up a family tradition! I also love photography, amateur dramatics, travel, reading (of course), movies (I’m a huge movie buff), swimming, and petting dogs.

 What advice would you give to other writers?

If you want to write, write. If you want to publish, write, put your work out there, accept rejection, re-write, edit, take courses, read good books on writing (Stephen King’s On Writing, Richard Skinner’s Writing a Novel, Dorothea Brand’s Becoming a Writer, William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade, Libby Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants! are some I’ve found very useful), get a writing mentor, keep writing, keep putting your work out there. Believe in yourself. Don’t take ‘No’ for an answer. Take it as a challenge. Show them. It’s worth it.

Great advice, Adrienne. Lovely to talk to you today. Wishing you much success with your writing.

About Adrienne

Author bio

Adrienne Chinn was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, grew up in Quebec, and eventually made her way to London, England after a career as a journalist. In England she worked as a TV and film researcher before embarking on a career as an interior designer, lecturer, and writer. When not up a ladder or at the computer writing, she often can be found rummaging through flea markets or haggling in the Marrakech souk. Her second novel, The English Wife — a timeslip story set in World War II England and contemporary Newfoundland — was published in June 2020 and has become an international bestseller. Her debut novel, The Lost Letter, was published by Avon Books UK in 2019. Her third novel, Love in a Time of War, the first in a series of four books in The Three Fry Sisters series, was published in February 2022. The second book in the series, The Paris Sister, was published in February 2023.

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