A compelling #WW2 read
After researching WW2’s Special Operations Executives for my third Esme Quentin mystery,
The Malice of Angels, and being in awe of the dangerous contribution they made to the war effort, I was particularly drawn to the story of a female SOE working under cover in occupied France.
I loved this book. I rattled through it. Every time I had to put it down I couldn’t wait to pick it up again.
Having researched the Special Operations Executives myself and being well aware of their crucial and perilous role in WW2, I was instantly drawn to the storyline of a female SOE working undercover in occupied France.
The story opens in the present day when Sarah’s mother Claire is taken ill and the seed of suspicion is sown that Claire has hidden secrets. Sarah is desperate to know more and presses Claire’s old friend Voilette for answers. But Voilette is guarded and what Sarah learns is merely a tantalising glimpse of her mother’s past. It will be Claire herself who will share the shocking truth with her daughter while they are on a convalescence holiday to France, the home of Claire’s birth.
We occasionally slip back in time to learn a little about Claire’s early life, but it is when Claire and Sarah arrive at their holiday cottage in Brittany that Claire’s secrets are fully revealed. It’s here we travel back to 1943 and re-live the full drama of Claire’s clandestine and terrifying wartime experience in occupied France.
The story was beautifully paced. I liked the start, where the almost teasing suggestion of the existence of dark secrets is coupled with Voilette’s dire warning that Sarah should allow matters to remain undisturbed. As events continue I never felt we were hopping back and forth too rapidly from past to present, as can be sometimes the case with time-shift novels. Once Claire’s wartime story begins to unfold we are there with her, and stay with her. We feel her fear, her determination, her courage, her selfless commitment and her passion.
A great story - a fascinating, compelling and very satisfying read.
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