Earlier in the year, I shared my review of Liza Perrat's Spirit of Lost Angels, which told the story of Victoire Charpentier, a farm girl from the French village of Lucie-sur-Vionne at the time of the French Revolution in the 1780's. I was delighted when Liza sent me a copy of her new book, Wolfsangel, to review.
We rediscover the village of Lucie-sur-Vionne at another much later but equally chaotic moment in its history - it's 1943 and the sleepy village is occupied by the Germans. The central character of this novel is the young and fiery-tempered Céleste Roussel. Having watched her father disappear to the German work camps and witnessed the arrogance and heartlessness of the Nazi solders as they requisition more and more food and goods from the already impoverished villagers, as well as rounding up the Jewish families, Céleste becomes more and more determined to help the underground work of the French Resistance.
The Second World War is a period I know quite a lot about, but mainly from the viewpoint of those on the Home Front in Britain or fighting in the trenches. Although I was aware of the Resistance and the Occupation, I didn't know a great deal about how this affected families in their daily life. I'm ashamed to say, most of my "knowledge" of this aspect of the war probably came from the totally romanticised 1980's comedy show Allo Allo. Wolfsangel shows the much grittier reality that the people of Occupied France had to endure, whether or not they were involved in the work of the Resistance. Some of the scenes are almost unbearably sad and shocking, showing that the deportees were not the only ones to suffer acts of barbaric atrocity. The novel also shows that people will do whatever it takes to survive, covering the whole spectrum of human reactions, from great heroism and selflessness to betrayal. As the saying goes, all's fair in love and war - or maybe, more accurately, nothing is fair in love and war.
It's a book that will stay with you long after you have turned the final page, especially when you read the author's notes and learn that some of the people and events depicted in the novel did really exist.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £7.99
- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Perrat Publishing (17 Oct 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 2954168129
- ISBN-13: 978-2954168128
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.
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