In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.
You know those books that you can’t put down, the ones that draw every emotion from you, until you feel wrung out? The books that when you finish, you can’t forget, and will carry with you from now on? That’s how I felt about this book. The funny thing is, if I had known exactly what I was going to be reading, even though Ms. Hannah is a favorite author, I probably would have said no. I am so happy that I really wasn’t aware.
France in 1939 is a country on the cusp of war with Nazi Germany. This is the story of two sisters, Viann, happily married with a child, and a husband that leaves for the war, the other, Isobel, younger, and much more impetuous, almost fearless. This is also the story of what happens to these sisters, when France falls to Germany,and is occupied by the Nazi’s.
Ms. Hannah tells the story by having an elderly woman think back to her past. It may have just been me, but I didn’t know for sure who the elderly woman was until close to the end. I found this way of writing the story to be amazing, because we (the reader) is transported back to WWII, and all the horrible realities of war. The author’s The Winter Garden, was similar in that the reader is transported to Russia during the same war, and I still haven’t forgotten any of that read. I have found Ms. Hannah’s body of work to be impeccable in her story telling ability, and in her writing characters that seem to leap off the page. Massive research into WWII had to have been done for both this, and The Winter Garden. I found myself googling The French Resistance and reading about women’s roles in fighting the Nazi’s-I was that pulled into the story.
The book shows all the hardships that the French people endured after being occupied. Viann as a vibrant, proud woman, is made to host a German officer in her own home. Her whole focus is on how to survive the war with her family intact. As the war progresses, we see just how much she has to sacrifice for that to happen. Isobel, joins the French resistance, and eventually becomes a heroine in the movement. That was the most exciting part of the book for me, however Viann has her share of excitement, as well as her time to shine.
This is the story of love, loss, war, and finally recognition. I have only barely touched on what the story is ultimately about. It was such a wonderful read, and I would like readers to have the same experience that I had. Like the part where I sat up until 5 am until I finished. Or how I gave up television one whole night, so I could read non-stop. That was something I rarely do.
I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s historical, but also included atrocities, so I would limit the age to 17 plus, at least. Just a personal side note-I think this would make for an outstanding mini series or movie.
The review copy of this book was supplied by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.