He reached for her again, this time for her hand. She let him draw her fingers over the trough and along the surface of the potatoes.
She felt the warmth of human skin, a man’s face. And the boy beside her said a name.
I picked up a copy of this book from my local second hand book shop and have been looking forward to reading it. Thanks to Anna for recommending it and shifting it to the top of my TBR pile. The cover on the edition I have is the same as in this photo (not the audio version though) and it fits the story perfectly I think – I love the dimly lit hidden room, the pitcher and bowl, the bare essentials. A place of healing and refuge and the setting for a good portion of the story.
Near the Belgian village of Delahaut at the end of 1943, a B-17 bomber crash lands. With German soldiers heading towards the scene, it is a race against time to save the American pilot Ted Brice, found semi-conscious by a 10 year old local boy Jean Benoit.
Claire Dussois is the wife of Henri, together they are members of the local Maquis (Resistance), hiding people in a small attic room in their house until they can be moved down the line and into safety in France. Henri is afraid and a quietly reluctant participant but Claire with her nursing and language skills is a crucial link in the chain. At the time this story begins, they have already housed 28 people throughout the course of the war. The American pilot will be their 29th and last.
This is the story of what happens in the village and in the little attic room in the aftermath of the plane crash. It was a quick read (I devoured it in a couple of sittings) but not always a light read. Some of it is predictable and some isn’t. There are passages that shock – I had to re read part of the first page to make sure it meant what I thought it did – and it did.
This is the second of Anita Shreve’s books that I have read (read Fortune’s Rocks several years ago) and I’m reminded how much I like her writing style. The plot here is uncomplicated but powerful, the writing is elegant and creates a wonderful sense of time and place.
I read this book especially for the WWII reading challenge and I enjoyed it very much. It is a reminder of the hardships suffered and the bravery of so many people during the war. This is a period in history that I am interested in and I will be seeking out at least one more book about the Resistance to read for this challenge.