An Act of Love

Written by Carol Drinkwater
Review by Margery Hookings

Inspired by an extraordinary true story, An Act of Love follows Sara who, with her parents, finds refuge in a lovely but dilapidated house in the Lower French Alps in 1943. After fleeing war-torn Poland, the village is the blissful backdrop to a blossoming romance between the protagonist, who is on the verge of womanhood, and local villager Alain. But something happens to threaten not only their future happiness but Sara’s freedom.

Carol Drinkwater certainly knows how to spin a good yarn. This latest novel by the author of The Lost Girl, The Forgotten Summer, and the non-fiction bestseller The Olive Farm, is a rattling good read, with short, page-turning chapters and deceptively simple prose. Her easy descriptions, detailed research and vivid characters bring an emotional depth to a novel that depicts poignantly a remarkable period of history in which ordinary people helped shelter Jewish families during the horrors of Nazi-occupied France.

Drinkwater dedicates the book to the “many girls” she has encountered on her travels whose stories are not so different from Sara’s. She commends them for “the courage it takes to face the world when the world does not accept you”. She first came across the story on which the novel is based at a museum in the Alpes-Maritimes in 1996. She writes: “This buried corner and its inhabitants, Italian and French, would not let me be, and I felt the need to come back to their history”. An Act of Love is an emotional and compelling novel about the power of first love and friendship. It is a warm, moving story that could be Drinkwater’s best novel yet.