The Secrets Between Us
Set in southern France, just north of Nice, the story features the Italian occupation of the area in 1943. Ceci (Celeste) Corvin’s father is the local baker in the small village of Sainte-Alpines. Ceci helps out in the bakery, baking the bread for the local residents and the many refugees who are sent up to the village. Fifty years later, in 1993, Annie is working in Cheshire compiling computer archives. She knows that her mother and grandmother were French and came to England as refugees themselves after the war, where she was born and brought up. There was a family argument when Annie was a small girl and her grandmother disappeared from her life. She finds a reference to her grandmother in one of the files in her department and decides, on impulse to try and find her. The book, chapter by chapter, alternates between 1943 and 1993.
I found this to be a totally fascinating story. The characterisation is excellent and the telling of the events of 1943 very real. I did not know about the Italian occupation of this part of southern France which borders on Italy and became completely absorbed in both the happenings of World War Two in that part of France and the fate of both the villagers of Sainte-Alpine and the refugees, mostly Jews, escaping from the German authorities, and the entwined tale of Annie’s search for her grandmother. Highly recommended.