A novel in two parts, The Paris Photo first relates the experiences of Ben Gordon, a Jewish American soldier who arrives in 1944 Paris shortly after the Liberation. He is also on a mission to find a Jewish family. He hears that the father and grandfather have disappeared, and bit by bit, learns with the family of the tragedy that has overtaken the Paris Jewish community. In the second part, six decades later, Ben has just died, and his adult daughter Judith, in clearing out her parents’ apartment, finds a box of photos that includes one of Ben with a French family.
While Judith knew her father had been in Paris, she had known nothing about them. Her researcher’s curiousity aroused, Judith locates the child in the picture. She finds a retired journalist who has cut himself off from Judaism. Gradually, he reveals the trauma from which he has still not recovered, and she discovers her growing anger with France for betraying its Jewish population. The experience changes her orientation, as she realizes the significance of Jewish identity.