Sisters of Night and Fog: A WWII Novel

Written by Erika Robuck
Review by Franca Pelaccia

Sisters of Night and Fog starts and ends in 1995, but the novel mostly spans the years of WWII, covering two true-life heroines and their stories. Virginia D’Albert-Lake is an American living in France. Along with her husband, Philippe, and a number of other French citizens, she becomes involved with the Comet Line, which secures safe passage out of occupied France for British and American airmen. The other storyline is about Violette Szabo, a fiery British-French citizen who, desperate to make a difference in the war effort, becomes a spy for the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The two women and their stories converge when they are arrested and sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp.

The novel’s first third jumps back and forth between the two women, providing their backgrounds and personalities, and I found this part low-key and largely unnecessary. I didn’t get into the story and start caring about the characters until the women put their lives on the line with their involvement in the Comet Line and SOE. Later, after both are arrested, Violette is interrogated, and they are shipped off to Ravensbrück, where they hold onto their humanity and sanity through courage and resistance. This part was raw and brought tears to my eyes. However, I question the author’s choice of using first-person narrative, since it didn’t bring the characters closer for me.