A page-turning historical saga that will pull at your heartstrings! For fans of Freda Lightfoot, Pam Jenoff, Sebastian Faulks and Kate Atkinson.
One woman’s secret war against the Nazis. One man’s war against himself…
When Nazi forces occupy Jersey in the English Channel Islands, Céline Huber, who is married to a German, must decide where her loyalty lies.
Love for her island, and fear for her Jewish friend Rachel, soon propel her into a dangerous double life.
Meanwhile, Céline’s husband Fred is conscripted into the Wehrmacht in occupied France.
Horrified by Nazi acts of atrocity and torture, he soon becomes a double agent for the French Resistance.
But when things go wrong, and his Nazi masters discover his true allegiance, he finds he has the whole of the German Army on his tail.
How far will Céline go for her best friend? Will Fred make his way home to her?
Or will their lives be changed forever by the brutality of war?
THE OCCUPATION is a moving war & military saga following the separate stories of a young man and woman through the years of the Second World War as they fight to survive.
Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres to read, and World War II one of the most fascinating backdrops. I visited Jersey many times as a child, and we always went to the war tunnels (probably where my interest was born) although this was always balanced by the Festival of Flowers.
The Occupation centres on a married couple – Céline, an Englishwoman born in Jersey, and her German husband Fred (Siegfried). The two met in Vienna, and later began a bakery in Jersey, where Fred’s talent as a pâtissier offered the islanders delicious pastries alongside their bread orders. To everyone who knows him, he is Fred the baker … until war breaks out and his nationality becomes his label, and Céline’s.
Fred is conscripted into the German army. At first, he’s quite proud of the efficiency of his compatriots, but that is short-lived when he sees the brutality that follows. His ability to speak French and English gets him a job as a translator in Paris, where he adopts the cover of Édouard Vibert and lives among the locals where he witnesses the diversion of food from the French to the German soldiers. His work reveals what is happening to the Jewish residents, and he sees firsthand a family being dragged away. His bosses soon ask him to ‘spy’ for them, as they are looking for members of the Résistance. At the same time, the locals suspect him when he is visited by a German officer. He must convince them (the locals, now his friends) that he’s on their side. To do that, he gets involved in daring and dangerous acts against the German army. But it is when his friends are arrested that he risks his life to help them, and become a wanted man.
Meanwhile, back in Jersey, Céline worries about him, having no news at all. Her Jewish friend, Rachel, goes “missing”, and then Fred’s German brother Horst (A high-ranking Nazi officer) descends on the bakery …wanting more from her than bread. All this leads to her being ostracised by her neighbours, labelled a “Jerrybag” and struggling for her own survival.
Their acts of heroism determine their fate, both Fred and Céline face the German authorities – will they survive? This is historical fiction at its best – it doesn’t wrap the events up in a cosy blanket, but rather shows the good and the bad, showing how war has an effect on people that changes how they treat each other when their own survival is under threat.
This is a powerful story depicting the best and the worst of humanity, but also not painting all Germans with the same brush (Wolfgang) or making all the Jersey islanders out to be virtuous. Written from both perspectives, the author delves into their new everyday existence, each unaware of how their spouse is faring.
Highly recommended to lovers of quality, well-researched, and real historical fiction with plenty to entertain as well as shock.