by Angela Barton
One woman’s struggle to fight back against the enemy in order to protect the ones she loves.
When Arlette Blaise sees a German plane fly over the family farm in 1940, she’s comforted by the fact that the occupying forces are far away in the north of the country. Surely the war will not reach her family in the idyllic French countryside near to the small town of Oradour-sur-Glane?
But then Saul Epstein, a young Jewish man driven from his home by the Nazis, arrives at the farm and Arlette begins to realise that her peaceful existence might be gone for good …
Arlette and Francine have their whole life ahead of them. They love to picnic in their favourite spot and wonder who they’ll fall in love with, how happy they’ll be … then the German army comes to Montverre.
Life changes dramatically as the Germans introduce curfews, rationing and limitations on just about everything.
Gilbert, Arlette’s brother, refuses to just sit back. He has other plans and leaves the family home, giving rise to the arrival of Saul – a Jewish trainee doctor – to help around the farm.
Inevitably, Arlette and Saul begin to chat … and romance blossoms. But just as Arlette begins to imagine how wonderful her life could be, the German authorities demand all Jews be turned in. Not only can she not turn Saul over to the authorities, she cannot ask him to leave – knowing full well the fate awaiting him should he be caught. The solution is one that puts them all at risk.
When Arlette is forced to work daily at the manor house (the German Army HQ) keeping that secret become even more dangerous, especially in times where people can be ‘persuaded’ to tell on their neighbours for an extra loaf of stale bread.
The atrocities of life in occupied France are not ignored in this beautifully written story. The author doesn’t mask the awfulness of those times; she treats those scenes – particularly at Oradour-sur-Glane – with the utmost respect, but the extent of the cruelty that occurred therefore still makes for uncomfortable reading (as it should).
I visited Oradour a few years ago, and witnessed the Singer sewing machine and the doctor’s abandoned car. The ghost-like sensation of that village is chilling. The author has woven those details meticulously in her story, giving the reader a fabulous, yet heart-wrenching story. We can only hope that history, told in this captivating way, will ensure such events never happen again.
This is a wonderful story, told with heart and sensitivity. I cannot recommend it highly enough to fans of WWII historical fiction, and to those who can enjoy a challenging romance set against the backdrop of occupied France.
Angela Barton was born in London and grew up in Nottingham. She is married with three grown up children. Passionate about writing both contemporary and historical fiction, Angela loves researching for her books and is an avid reader. Having signed publishing contracts for three of her completed novels with Ruby Fiction, Angela is excited to be working alongside such a friendly and supportive publishing team. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and Nottingham Writers’ Studio.
Having recently moved to France, Angela (alongside her husband, Paul) is now a lavender farmer, creating products from the oil that’s distilled. Angela says she’s looking forward to spending more time writing in the company of her two spaniels while sitting on her veranda overlooking the breath-taking countryside of Charente.
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Many thanks to Angela Barton, and to Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book. If you would like to read more about this book, why not head over to some of the other blogs on the tour.
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Thanks for reading 🙂