Monday, 28 July 2008

World War II Mystery

Finished July 27
On Pain of Death by Jan Rehner
This is the first book I've read by Canadian writer Jan Rehner and I was glad to find I loved it.
This book is set in France during World War II, most of it during the German occupation. The main character is a young female student from Canada, Juliette Benoit. Julliette came to France to study at the Sorbonne, and she makes friends with a group of students, who help her improve her French, teach her about French culture, and give her a love for Paris. When the war begins, the students at first live in denial, but the German occupation makes them unable to ignore their situation. Juliette gets help in concealing her identity, and then finds herself working to help the French people in whatever ways she can. When she is asked to escort a young Jewish girl to freedom, she becomes involved more directly in the Resistance and goes through some harrowing situations as she crosses the country to get Sophie out of France.
A second primary character is Gabrielle Aubin, a young woman whose husband has just been shot for killing a German soldier, something she knows he did not do. Gabrielle feels compelled to join the Resistance movement that her husband Jean was involved in, partly out of defiance and partly to discover the real killer of the soldier. Both women work towards the freedom of France and her people in their own way, and when they finally encounter each other, they discover they have more in common than they initially suspected.
Both characters are driven by their connections with others and helped by them as well.
I loved this book and will definitely look for more from this author.

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