The Things We Did for Love
Arianne is a fifteen-year-old girl growing up in a village in the southwest of France in the spring of 1944. Luc, who is a year older, returns to the village after a long absence. As they fall in love, they are spied on by Romy, another village boy, who has been in love with Arianne for years. When Luc decides to join the Resistance a few days after the Normandy landings in June, the results are catastrophic for the whole village.
This novel, which was short-listed for the Young Quills Award, achieves a great deal in a short space. The characters are strongly drawn. Both Arianne and Luc come across as quirky and sympathetic, as do Paul, Arianne’s brother, and some other villagers. Romy is more of a stereotype, but we are drawn into his feelings even so. We are also given some disturbing insights into the perspective of a German soldier.
Day-to-day life in the village is vividly evoked and set against Arianne’s memories of life before the war. The beauty of the surrounding countryside and of the deserted house where the lovers meet is conjured up by small details, like the red squirrels in the woods and the overgrown lawn which has become a meadow.
This is fiction loosely based on real events. The pain and horror of the war is clearly shown, and the choices the characters must make are as complex and uncertain as in real life. The ending is not unrelieved tragedy but all the same, this is a deeply sad story despite the charm and humour of its telling. Highly recommended for readers of 14 and above.