Category: Fiction/Historical – Paperback: 320 pages – Publisher: Abacus (Hachette) – Source: Bookcrossing
First Published: 1995
As the wife of a Resistance member in German-occupied Belgium, Claire Daussois has grown used to hiding strange men in her attic. By the end of 1943, the tiny room has housed dozens of Allied airmen, soldiers and other refugees, whom Claire nurses and harbours from the perpetual threat of discovery by the Gestapo. The B-17 bomber that crash-lands outside Claire’s village of Delahaut contains the man who will be both the last and the most significant of the attic’s residents: US Air Force pilot Ted Brice. Ted is found severely wounded and semi-conscious by ten-year-old Jean Benoit minutes before the Germans begin their search for survivors. Knowing of Claire’s connections with the Resistance, and desperate to atone for his father’s shameful collaboration, Jean realises that Claire is the pilot’s only hope of survival. The month that follows will stay with them both for the rest of their lives. A few weeks only, a handful of days, it is a period in which the war recedes in the face of more powerful forces – before imposing itself once more with shocking suddenness.
I didn’t know the author and the last reader of this copy had raved about it so I thought I’d give it a try when I saw it in the bookbox*.
I found it very slow to start (the initial plane crash takes the first fifty odd pages up) and struggled to feel a connection to the lead character, Claire. I also found the postwar ending too contrived. I’m not sure I am the right reader for this book to be honest, I read too much European history and not enough romance to be charmed by it. Instead I see issues with the setting and plot holes and grumble about it being inaccurate. I think a less critical reader, able to let those bugs go, would get far more out of the story. Still, it is not a book I would normally have picked up and I am glad for the opportunity to try something different.
Rating: 5/10 (My Book Review Scale)
Claimed out of a Virtual Bookbox. This is a variation of a bookring where a group of bookcrossers email a list of books from one member to the next, requesting books and replacing books on each turn. It’s cheaper than mailing a box of books around the group!