Suite Francaise

Amy Suite FrancaiseThough only two parts of the suite were finished before the author was taken from her family and killed in a concentration camp in 1942, the scale of this novel is still so grand. In the first part, people flee Paris as the Germans approach, and in the second, a country village is occupied. The setting is breathtakingly beautiful, the different reactions to the situation are raw, shocking, tender, brutal and very real. It’s hard to separate the book from the author’s real life tragedy, and why should we? The film focuses on just one part of the book, where it is set in the country village. Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts and Kristin Scott Thomas ( American, Belgian and English) do a great job playing the French and German characters and it is a moving film.

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The Paris architect by Charles Belfoure

Amy The Paris ArchitectI really like the idea behind the book – a French architect, during WWII, designs hiding places for Jewish people. The plot is fast paced and the resolution satisfying, but for me, the characters were stereotypical and the character development was off. The dialogue was anachronistic and I had a sense of the author being American. I can see why a lot of people would love this book, but the language and characters were not quite what I look for.

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The butterfly and the violin by Kristy Cambron

Hannah The buttterfly and the violinThe Butterfly and the Violin is a sad and gentle tale of two young lovers who were sent to the Nazi concentration camps, how they survived by a small thread of hope, how they were separated and found again, and how poignant and fragile the gift of life is. I was so deeply moved by this story that I purchased my own copy. If you wish for a book that will speak deeply to your heart, this I recommend!

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Requiem for a wren by Nevil Shute

Requiem for a WrenNevil Shute is a brilliant storyteller, and this is another great WWII story. Alan Duncan finally comes home to his family farm in Australia, quite a few years after the war, damaged physically and emotionally, and finds a new tragedy in his house. A maid committed suicide the night before he arrived, and he sets out to discover her story. This is less technical, more character driven than some of his books, so more to my taste, and a moving look at the impact the war had on people, during and afterwards.

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Girl at war by Sara Novic

Amy Girl at WarI love how fiction make something that is just vague memories of the news, real and somehow urgent though it is the past. Girl at War is the story of a Croatian girl, Ana, just ten at the beginning of the Civil war in Yugoslavia. From her childhood in Zagreb to her student days in New York, we experience the horrors of the war, and how she faces her personal history and that of her country. I knew so little of this war and found this story about the history, its continued impact and people’s resilience compelling and darkly beautiful.

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The undertaking by Audrey Magee

cynthia-the-undertakingWar is not pretty and this novel embodies this concept. The story does not end on an uplifting note – it is quite bleak. The descriptions are sparse and the conversations match, creating a somber mood. The story is from a German viewpoint which gave me a different view of World War II. The change in feeling in people as the war ground on was interesting, but overall a very bleak story.

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Everyone brave is forgiven by Chris Cleave

amy-everyone-brave-is-forgivenI don’t know what it says about me, but WWII is a favourite setting. I have read many novels set during this time, but there was so much more to experience in Everyone Brave is Forgiven. Set in London and Malta it is a story of a well to do young woman and her war work as a teacher and ambulance driver, and a young man stationed in Malta. It is about strength, weakness, resilience, prejudice, terrible loss and a fragile hope. In no way sentimental or trite, I found this book deeply moving and enjoyable.

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The things they carried by Tim O’Brien

amy-the-things-they-carriedThe Things They Carried isn’t how I thought it would be. I liked it; it wasn’t trite or sentimental it also wasn’t linear or solid, and while it may not all be exactly true, there does seem to be much truth in it. It is a man’s stories of his time in Vietnam, what it meant to him then and the ongoing impact through his life. It isn’t something that ever really makes sense, but stories help.

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