Francesca Pascal

Written by Fredrik Nath
Review by Lynn Guest

Francesca Pascal, an artist, is caught in Paris during the German occupation. In a shocking accident, her daughter is shot by German soldiers under the command of an SD officer, Egger. When Jewish friends are arrested and their cherished painting, an early Matisse, is stolen by the Nazis, she determines to avenge her daughter and to recover from the enemy the Matisse, a symbol of French culture and life. Fleeing Paris for Bergerac, she becomes involved with the partisans and encounters Egger again. The Matisse is in his possession. Obsessed by the painting and her daughter’s death, she joins a plot to save the picture and to kill Egger, but he is a clever and cruel opponent with the resources of the SD behind him.

Nath has drawn a powerful and grim picture of life in France during the Occupation. In Francesca, he has a strong heroine whose grief and almost insane passion for revenge and for the Matisse carries the story. Despite some irritating repetition, this is an interesting novel and a good read.