In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.
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 France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.
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 the compelling and mysterious 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. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real--and deadly--consequences.
Kathryn - 5 Star
I can describe this novel as nothing else but intense. I honestly thought I’d previously read a novel by Hannah before and so asked for this one for review thinking I knew what I was getting myself into. But having trolled through my books-read list I actually can’t find this author’s name anywhere so it turns out this is my first contact with Kristin Hannah.
I could not put this novel down. At first I was just intrigued by the snippets of history of occupied France during WWII and was drawn into the relationship between the two sisters and their estranged father. I was lulled into complacency and was quite enjoying the book….and then all of a sudden I was reading with my stomach in knots and tears rolling down my face. It was almost too much and I would have probably put it down for a day or two except that I was desperate to finish it and read something more lighthearted on Christmas Eve. I honestly sat in tears for the last third of the story. There was something about Viann’s earnest attempts to try and stay below the radar that touched me. While I can see her being criticized for not doing more during the first half of the war I could also completely relate to wanting to lay low in the hopes of protecting her child. There’s nothing more tangible in this book than the need to protect your children- from Viann to Rachel and even to Viann and Isabelle’s father.
There were very few things I could say brought me joy in this book except for the relationships of the people. I was so relieved to finally learn more about the father- the fact that he wasn’t completely lost and was working in his own way. I was overjoyed that Isabelle and Viann were able to say they loved each other face to face. The children were inspiring with their tiny lives being so tenuous.
This is a wonderfully expressive novel and there are a multitude of different layers to uncover but the horror of the truth of WWII is there in earnest. If you are left unmoved by this story then I would be shocked and disappointed.
Thank you to St Martin's Press for our review copy. All opinions are our own.
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