Saturday 4 September 2021

Sisters of the Resistance

Finished September 3
Sisters of the Resistance by Christine Wells

This novel focuses on two sisters in Paris in 1944 and 1947 and jumps back and forth between the two time periods. Yvette Foucher is outgoing and exuberant. During the war she worked for the fashion House of Lelong where the designer Christian Dior worked. Her family also worked as the concierge at the building that Dior and his sister Catherine lived in. After her father's death, her mother retreated into herself and Yvette's sister Gabby took on most of the concierge duties. Gabby's young man was killed in the war before the actions of this novel, and she is just trying to keep things safe, abide by the curfews and look after the residents that are most needy. One of them is the elderly Madame LaRoq, and she is now delivering meals to her on a regular basis and visiting, as is Catherine Dior. Catherine makes frequent trip to her farm in the country and often brings back food and passes it on to others such as the Fouchers. Gabby finds more than she bargained for in Madame LaRoq's apartment one day, and finds herself involved in hiding people from the Germans. One of the women who brings people in to be hidden is Catherine Dior, and thus Gabby finds herself in ever closer connection to her.
When Yvette is bringing a cape to the actress Louise Dulac, who is a mistress to a high-ranking German officer, she is noticed by the actress and gets asked to do some additional work for her. As a result of an incident with her bicycle she also meets a young diplomat Vidar Lind. Lind takes an interest in her and seems to keep popping up in her life. But Yvette isn't sure whether she can trust him entirely.
In 1947, Yvette is back in Paris from New York to testify at the trial of Louise Dulac. She is willing to do so, but also she has been disappointed with trying to work as a model in New York as she doesn't have the look that is popular there, and she hopes to get a chance to work for Dior who is about to launch his own collection. Gabby hasn't heard from her sister since she escaped France, and is happy to see her well, but is haunted by her own losses from the war, including one that she doesn't know the fate of. When she gets a chance to deal with that unresolved situation in person, she finds she has more courage than she thought, and begins to hope for a life beyond that of being concierge with her mother. 
The two young women are different in character, but both caring individuals, and you see how that underlies their actions. Yvette is more impetuous, but she is also quick-thinking and resourceful, and figures out a way to avoid the worst of situations, yet notices anomalies in the world around her. Gabby is also one to notice, aware of the building residents habits and actions, helping where she can, and she can also summon courage more easily when she is doing it on behalf of someone else. As they navigate the difficult time of occupation, they also face adult situations headon and do what they must. After the war, they must find a future for themselves and they look forward in different ways. 
I really enjoyed this novel despite a couple of weak plot points, such as the trial. 

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