Betrayal in Burgundy

Written by Howard Shaw
Review by Julia Richardson

Betrayal in Burgundy is centred around pilot James Chalmers, who is a young man dealing with the realities of war. It is not long before Chalmers falls in love with Mary, a member of the WAAF; however just as they are beginning to entertain thoughts of marriage, Chalmers’ plane is brought down over France. Trapped in Burgundy, he is taken in by a farming family who are involved in the resistance, and as the threat of the Gestapo draws closer, Chalmers can’t help but be attracted to the farmer’s daughter, Chantal.

Betrayal in Burgundy is ultimately a love story in tragic circumstances. The character of Chalmers is at first slightly irritating, with an almost smug air around him, and the character of Mary is initially somewhat pitiful and, again, slightly irritating; however, the two characters, when they are brought together, seem to cancel out each other’s unlikeable qualities and altogether make an endearing couple that you really feel strongly about. The character of Chantal is fairly mysterious, and it feels like we don’t know her as well as we know Mary; however, this appears to be deliberate, as we too are meant to feel the pain of Chalmers’ betrayal of Mary, as well as become  intrigued as to how far war can push people into living for the moment rather than thinking about the future.

Over all, this is an extremely enjoyable book, and can be devoured in a handful of sittings. The development of the relationship between Chalmers and Mary in particular is simply enthralling. The book as a whole is  intelligent, with a good mix of romance, the French resistance, and technical aircraft terms, leading to a great sense of credibility; the emotions, twists and turns mirror real-life stories and relationships, creating a thought-provoking and enrapturing read.