Look to the East

Written by Maureen Lang
Review by Liz Allenby

Set in the small village of Briecourt, France, during the early battles of World War I, Look to the East opens in the midst of a long-standing feud between the families de Colvilles and Toussaint. The de Colvilles have spread many lies about Julitte Toussaint’s past as an adopted child. When the German army sweeps in to occupy Briecourt, a handful of outsiders are trapped behind enemy lines. Father Barnabe shelters one of those outsiders, Belgian entrepreneur Charles Lassone. Visiting the village church, Julitte discovers Charles hiding in the basement. An unexpected love blossoms between them. Working together despite past hatred, the de Colvilles and the Toussaints succeed in smuggling Charles out to England. Determined to save Julitte from the occupied village, Charles hatches a rescue plan that will entail a dangerous return mission behind German lines.

Maureen Lang, award-winning author of several novels including The Oak Leaves and On Sparrow Hill, has written this romantic novel as part of her Great War series. The author evokes the sense of desperation within any village about to be swallowed up in the march of a war that turns men first into animals, then into machines. Lang provides a strong sense of historical detail as the villagers see their food become scarce, their homes ravaged, and their pride trampled by enemy demands. While the setting is well-drawn and spiritual message strong, the relationship between Julitte and Charles seems lukewarm. The reader yearns for a deeper connection between the two lovers as motivation for Charles’s later rescue mission in which he risks his life for Julitte.