Written by Olga Swan
Review by Geoffrey Harfield

The Vichy government was the collaborationist regime headed by Marechal Petain which was permitted by the Nazis to rule central and southeastern France after its defeat in 1940. The book’s characters relate their part in the Resistance to the regime which connived at the deportation of thousands of French Jews to a horrible fate in eastern Europe.

In my twenty years reviewing over fifty books for the Historical Novel Society, I have enjoyed many fast-paced, page-turning stories set in Europe during my chosen period of 1840-1950. Others have been long-winded, self-indulgent family memoirs of unnecessary detail. At nearly 300 pages this book only narrowly escapes this, but I think it is too long for its story. The English is good, the smattering of German gives it verity and the Nazis behave like Nazis.

Most of the book is of reminiscences, and as such easily leads to boredom. There is very little dialogue, which always adds characterisation to a story and is essential in fiction. Much of the book reads like a very descriptive report from an operative to his boss.

Because of the above, I would find it very difficult to buy this book for my own library, but it is a well-written documentation of the times from the author’s point of view, but with a lack of expert editing. We seem to have soft, felt fedoras everywhere.