One of the most popular and award winning books of 2014 and 2015 is Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Set in France during World War II, this is the story of a teenage French girl who joins the Resistance and a young German soldier sent to France to track the opposition. Other terrific historical fiction has been written about this same period in history and can be found at the Monrovia Public Library.
New is Kristin Hannah’s Nightingale about two French sisters whose close relationship is challenged by their reaction to their country and town being occupied by the Germans. Rule-follower Vianne and rebel Isabelle each try to survive the war in different ways.
Always a favorite with book groups is Tatiana De Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key. A journalist who is researching the 60th anniversary of the round up and deportation of Paris Jews to Auschwitz tries to unravel the story of the Jewish family of deportees who once lived in her own apartment. Heartbreaking at many levels, Sarah’s Key is a remarkable and sensitive novel.
Among the Parisians fleeing after the German occupation was a writer named Irene Nemirovsky, a Jewish woman who eventually died in a Nazi death camp. Many years after the war her daughters revealed that they had found the notebooks with the book she wrote during her flight. Suite Francaise, a story about those French people trying to survive the invasion, captures both the history of the time and the insecure lives of the characters.
Another book that travels back in time is Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris. A woman returns to the French village where she grew up and where her family collaborated with the Nazis in the black market. Trying to discover the truth about the war’s impact, she unravels the town’s secrets that have been hidden for many years.