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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Les Parisiennes by Anne Sebba

As this was an ARC from Bookbrowse the pictures which will be in the published edition were lacking and that is sad, for the captions of the empty spaces indicate that they will greatly enhance this story of the incredible women who lived through the German occupation of Paris and the rest of France during WW II. There are places where the story drags and others where the story is repetitious but overall it is a fascinating story.
It begins in 1939 when the City becomes aware of the German threat but during the lull when the Germans are gracious and cultured and polite. Soon things begin to change and the food shortages begin and Jews are rounded up and made to wear yellow stars, Jewish companies are aranized and their owners flee or to into hiding. Many French men have already gone to unoccupied France to fight in DeGualle's army, what few are left are gathered up and sent to work in Germany for the war effort.
Left behind are the women and children, whom they need to protect and feed. The choices made by the women are unbelieveable--some resist, some depart and others collaborate--some even collaborate while also resisting. All of the stories are heart-breaking and over and over I asked myself, what would I do, would I be able to survive some of the horrors , how would I protect my child?
Once liberation comes the story is far from over. All of the women who survived, no matter how, now had to face the future--for some a very short future, with death the result of trials that found them guilty of treason, or the result of illness and weakness resulting from years spent at the hands of brutal German imprisonment. Yet, others lived into their nineties and they, too, found their future shadowed by the years of the war and its aftermath.
Perhaps the most impressive line in the book is its last:"It is not for the rest of us to judge but, with imagination, we can try to understand." ( BTW, Liz Taylor was British--maybe American later.)

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