In France in 1939, in the village called Carriveau, Vianne’s husband is going off to war. While he is gone, the Nazis invade France and a German soldier lives in her home.
In the intervening time period, Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is searching for purpose and love in life that has been absent up until this point. Determined to do what she can, she joins the French resistance to oppose the Nazi occupation and risk her life time and time again.
The story tells the narratives of two sisters whose personalities are opposites and describes how each person deals with the challenges in front of them because of the Nazi occupation.
I do not usually read historical novels about the effects of war. That being said, I give the author a lot of credit for the book was well written. The story was true to the time period. The story is very similar to the real story of war heroine Andree de Jongh.
The author does not gloss over any of the atrocities that were happening at the time. It demonstrated the insidious way that the Nazis manipulated people to carry out their nefarious agenda.
From the beginning, Isabelle recognized the threat and wanted to do all she could to fight the Nazis.
Vianne did not want to rock the boat. While she finally acted in a way that helped someone other than her immediate family, she seemed to me to be selfish most of the novel. There was a lot of denial based on a naive assumption of what an occupying military force would do. There was a deliberate lack of perception for fear of what she might find.
The difference in upbringing was evident. Vianne always looked for someone to take care of her. On the other hand, Isabelle knew she had to take of herself. She did not have the luxury of depending on others because she had been disappointed time and time again.
In my opinion, the most character development happens in Vianne. Isabelle has her own evolution, but I think it is more drastic in Vianne.
The author did a fantastic job writing this and I think you will enjoy. When reading, I encourage you to think about who you are and what sacrifices you can live with and what you think will break you. Be honest with yourself and confront what you truly fear. This is the type of book that I would suggest that you read with a friend so that you can discuss. Considering what is happening in the world around us, a lot of what was in the story could have been taken from the headlines today.
Trigger warnings: torture, rape