Back Behind Enemy Lines by Chris Bridge

Back Behind Enemy LinesBack Behind Enemy Lines by Chris Bridge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Back Behind Enemy Lines is a historical fiction, the first part is set in 1944 in Normandy during WWII, the second part is in 2006, England.

Anna Julen is about to be parachuted into Normandy as a special agent, she’s part of a Special Operations Executive and from now on she is Marie-Claire Cardon, niece of Madam Desaint and milkmaid. Alone in a dangerous time she must hide her radio, blend in with the locals and start finding information to send back home. She works long hours, up early to milk the cows and goats delivering milk and cheese, eyes and ears open to everything. As Marie-Claire she cycles miles observing and mapping German gun placements and movements, always in danger of arrest.

To gather further information Marie- Claire must set up her own network of local spies and helping the resistance, her first recruit is seven year old Franck. Everyone is waiting for the allied invasion, both German and resistance activity is increasing. Marie-Claire’s group help others sabotage railway tracks and communication lines. In May a new agent is sent out, Pierre, young and healthy he must be kept out of sight or he’ll be questioned as to why he is not fighting at the front.

I loved reading about Marie-Claire, she showed such extreme strengths and bravery. In July the invasion came, the frontline moved and the British came to the rescue, Anna’s job was over. I wondered what the rest of the book would be about and if it would keep my attention.

Part two is about Anna, it’s now her ninetieth birthday, her husband Ronnie has died, she has three grown up children. They want to run her life, move her to an old folks home, remove her independence. But Anna resists, she’s back behind enemy lines and her old dormant training re-ignites. She recruits two youngsters to help her and decides it’s time to lay some ghosts to rest, re-turning to Normandy for answers and forgiveness. Part two kept me just as enthralled as part one and I was up late reading into the night to get to the end of this wonderful book.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by Publishing Push in conjunction with Peach Publishing.

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Alone In Berlin by Hans Fallada

Alone in BerlinAlone in Berlin by Hans Fallada

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

1940 Berlin. Amongst the fear and conditions that the people of Berlin are living in, Otto and Anna Quangel get news that there son had been killed in the war. Spies are everywhere, few people can be trusted. Otto didn’t want to join the “party”, it was expensive and it made you different. Yet defeatist talk and being awkward could get you put in a concentration camp.

This book is about people on the inside, some thought it was disastrous for the German people to follow The Fuhrer, but it was very dangerous to voice your opinion. There was heroic resistance to the Nazi regime at all levels of German society and Hans Fallada has drawn on the true story of Elise and Otto Hampel. He shows the tensions between the people’s struggle to survive and the world around them.

Otto and Elise, represented in the book as Otto and Anna, were a couple who started a three year campaign against Nazi Germany. In that time they wrote and dropped hundreds of postcards calling for civil disobedience and workplace sabotage.

This book was written in just twenty four days by an author with a shocking history who himself barely survived time in a Nazi insane asylum. It is an emotional book and one to leave the reader thinking about the past and where we are today. This is one of Penguin’s Modern Classics.

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I thought I’d throw you a question about individual people….

Fear drives people to extremes, many of the characters in this book acted on fear, yet others were very brave. From your own knowledge and what you’ve read and seen about the war, does it surprise you that a resistance  was working in the heart of Germany?