📚Based On A True Event. @OlgaNM7 Reviews #WW2 Story, The Peaceful Village by @MahurinPaulette, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Olga.

Olga blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Olga has been reading The Peaceful Village by Paulette Mahurin

Book cover for World War Two story The Peaceful Village by Paulette Mahurin
The Peaceful Village by Paulette Mahurin

This is a novelised account of a real event that took place during WWII, one that I didn’t know anything about before I read the novel, but I will never forget now. I don’t hesitate to recommend this book to all readers, those who love fiction and those who prefer non-fiction, as it should be read. Due to the events that take place, this is not an easy read (it is hard, harrowing, and emotional), so I would recommend caution to readers who are not in the right place or frame of mind to read about such subjects.

It is impossible not to think about the war and its victims these days, and that makes this narration more poignant and urgent than ever. We should never forget what happened because we all know what happens to those who forget. I will not spend too much time on the plot, as the book description provides plenty of information, and anybody interested can research what is known of what happened on that day, the 10th of June of 1944 in Oradour-sur-Glane. The author includes a disclaimer, where she explains that the book is a work of fiction, and other than the historical characters included, the rest is her attempt at fitting what is known to have happened into a narrative. Her research shines through, and, to clarify matters even more, together with her disclaimer, the author includes a Glossary of Terms and Historical Figures, a list of the German military ranks used in the novel, of the organizations and political groupings, and of the locations, and also the translation of a few German terms used in the book (when the translation is not included in the text itself) right at the beginning of the book. There is also a postnote that explains what happened afterwards, to the village and at the trial of a few of those involved in the onslaught.

Mahurin manages to recreate Oradour for us. Through the locations, the characters, and the events that take place there, we get a good sense of what a lovely place it was, a peaceful village in the German-controlled part of France, where life goes on almost undisturbed, although there are also things happening that remind the inhabitants of the war, and there is a sense of dread hanging over the proceedings. The beauty is in the detail: we see characters going about their jobs and their lives (the doctor, who is also the mayor, looks after his patients, and so does one of his sons, also a doctor; the priest is involved in welfare and also tries to help families in need [Jewish families escaping the Nazi regime among others]; we have mechanics; we have farmers; we have teachers; we have children; we have hard-working mothers…) and we have people who know each other and who do what they can to help others, their family, their neighbours, their friends, and also the newcomers who need help. This is an ensemble novel, and although we perhaps learn more about some characters than others (like Marguerite, who is exhausted by farm work —among other things— and manages to find her perfect role in helping the priest with his church work and his other tasks, or the mayor, the priest, and even others who don’t live in the village, like the head of the Maquis du Limousin…), this is a novel about a community, where everybody has a part to play, as must have been the case at the real Oradour. The shock of that normality, where nothing out of the ordinary had happened, being interrupted by the senseless massacre, has a devastating effect upon us, and it is not surprising to read how the people in the village were totally stunned and unable to believe what was going on.

The author writes beautifully about the place, the people, their lives, and their customs, and despite the horrific tragedy that eventually unfolds, there are incredibly beautiful passages as well. Plenty of happy and inspiring moments fill up the pages of this novel, and, the choice of a third-person omniscient point of view works very well for the story, as it allows us to see and understand how the different characters feel and what their lives are like, and it also shows us some of the events that preceded the massacre (although the reasons, as the author explains, have never been fully explained, and there are only a variety of conjectures historians have proposed over the years). We do see and follow what the Germans do as well, and the third-person narrative plays a pretty neutral observer’s role, not overdramatising events because it is totally unnecessary. It leaves it up to the readers to make their own minds up, experience the events, and feel the emotions. And that makes it even more moving and poignant.

A couple of samples of the writing:

May moved along with goodwill radiating warmth through Oradour like a hot bath soothing a stiff body on a frigid day.

Then he thought of the plans he’d heard to make the ruins into an untouched museum. To leave everything as is. Wistfully, words flowed from him like a feather floating through air when he said, “That magical place is a reminder of the living people who lived there in harmony.”

This is not a mystery novel, and we know what is going to happen (what really happened, not the details, but the bare facts), so the ending of the story is not, in itself, surprising, but I felt it was perfect. There was a hopeful note, but a somewhat bittersweet one, as the postnote reminds us of how many crimes of war are never solved, properly investigated, or even truly acknowledged.

I have already recommended the novel to all readers (with a note of warning), in particular to those interested in stories set in WWII in France, both fictional and non-fictional; to those who enjoy reading beautifully written books with a historical theme, and to anybody who likes to learn about real events, especially those that affect us all and should never be forgotten. I was inspired to read more about the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, and discovered that 19 of the victims were Spaniards (11 of them children), refugees who had escaped from Spain during the Civil War to avoid the fascist reprisals by Franco’s regime. After that, it felt even more personal, if that were possible. What else can I tell you? Read it, if at all you can. I have learned something I won’t forget and discovered a writer I will carry on reading for a long time to come.

Orange rose book description
Book description

During the German occupation of France, nestled in the lush, verdant countryside in the Haute-Vienne department of central France was the peaceful village of Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a community where villagers woke to the medley of nature’s songs, roosters crowing, birds chirping, cats purring, and cows plodding on their way out to pasture. The people who lived there loved the tranquil nature of their beautiful home, a tranquility that existed year-round. Even with the German occupation, Oradour-sur-Glane – the village with cafés, shops, and a commuter tram to Limoges – remained relatively untouched by the stress of the occupation.

While Oradour-sur-Glane enjoyed the lack of German presence, twenty-two kilometers to the northwest in Limoges, the Germans were reacting with increasing cruelty to organized attacks on their soldiers by the armed resistance organization Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP). Headed by Amédé Fauré, the Limoges FTP was considered the most effective of the French Resistance groups. Fauré’s missions prompted the German military to kill and incarcerate in concentration camps anyone perceived as supporters or sympathizers of the Resistance.

Up until the middle of 1944, the German anti-partisan actions in France never rose to the level of brutality or number of civilian casualties that had occurred in eastern Europe. A little before the Allies landed in Normandy, all that changed, when German troops, and in particular the Waffen-SS, stationed on the Eastern Front were transferred to France. It was then that FTP’s increasing efforts to disrupt German communications and supply lines were met with disproportionate counter attacks, involving civilians. Fauré’s response was to target German officers. When he set his sights on two particular German officers, all hell broke loose.

Based on actual events as told by survivors, The Peaceful Village is the fictionalized story of the unfolding of the events that led up to one of the biggest World War II massacres on French soil. Much more than an account of Nazi brutality and the futility of war, this is a story of love. The love of family. The love of neighbor. The love of country. Compassion and courage burn from the pages as the villagers’ stories come alive. Written by the international bestselling author of The Seven Year Dress, Paulette Mahurin, this book pays homage to the villagers who lived and loved in Oradour-sur-Glane.

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A Harrowing Tale Set in The Netherlands During #WW2. Sherry reviews Over The Hedge By Paulette Mahurin for #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sherry. She blogs here https://sherryfowlerchancellor.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sherry has been reading Over The Hedge by Paulette Mahurin

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This one was hard to read for a number of reasons. The main one, of course, was the brutality of the subject matter. This book was harrowing and, often times, turned the reader’s stomach as to the behavior of human beings who took joy and pleasure in harming other humans. The Nazi regime created many monsters. The one question that will forever haunt me on the atrocities of the acts on Jewish people is, did the regime create these monsters or were so many already lurking in society and they were freed and allowed to run rampant based on there being no consequences (at least during those years when the evil was in power)?

The heroes and heroine of this true to life story were amazing and awe-inspiring. That two of them were Jewish themselves and risked it all to save children is admirable. They didn’t hide away, though who could have blamed them if they had? The fact they survived and made a difference as long as they did was remarkable. Henriette Pimental and Walter Suskind were truly angels on earth for the children they helped to escape and give a chance to live. Johan van Hulst, the professor who started it all, was also a brave man to not sit back and allow innocent lives to be destroyed. It’s terrible that they weren’t able to save more, but those they did save were reward enough. Every life that went on was a victory.

This was a tale that everyone needs to read even though the subject matter is tough.

The two faults I found with the book was it was hard to tell if it was a fictionalized version of facts or if it was a true and accurate telling of the actual events. The tale moved from almost reading like a text book to dialogue and dramatization. In places it was dry and then it would segue to an almost novel-like approach. The cover states it’s a novel, but it was hard to tell by the actual text. The other fault was the paragraph formatting. It may have just been in the ARC copy I have, but the formatting was disjointed throughout. Hanging sentences that joined up after an inserted return all through the copy made it hard to read properly.

I can’t say I enjoyed the book, but it definitely made an impression. The author did a good job in showing the reader just how awful and harrowing the residents of the Netherlands had it in WWII. What a terrible time and place for so many to have to endure. I’m sure it was hard for the author to write as it was definitely hard to read.

Desc 1

During one of the darkest times in history, at the height of the German occupation of the Netherlands in 1943, members of the Dutch resistance began a mission to rescue Jewish children from the deportation center in Amsterdam. Heading the mission were Walter Süskind, a German Jew living in the Netherlands, Henriëtte Pimentel, a Sephardic Jew, and Johan van Hulst, principal of a Christian college. As Nazis rounded up Jewish families at gunpoint, the three discreetly moved children from the deportation center to the daycare across the street and over the backyard hedge to the college next door. From the college, the children were transported to live with Dutch families. Working against irate orders from Hitler to rid the Netherlands of all Jews and increasing Nazi hostilities on the Resistance, the trio worked tirelessly to overcome barriers. Ingenious plans were implemented to remove children’s names from the registry of captured Jews. To sneak them out of the college undetected past guards patrolling the deportation center. To meld them in with their new families to avoid detection. Based on actual events, Over the Hedge is the story of how against escalating Nazi brutality when millions of Jews were disposed of in camps, Walter Süskind, Henriëtte Pimentel, and Johan van Hulst worked heroically with the Dutch resistance to save Jewish children. But it is not just a story of their courageous endeavors. It is a story of the resilience of the human spirit. Of friendship and selfless love. The love that continues on in the hearts of over six hundred Dutch Jewish children.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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