Archive for November 2008
We read this book for our November book club read and had mixed reactions to it. The book is written as two stories, which most of us felt were almost as two unconnected ones. This I found disappointing, as did others in the group as it left a sense of incompleteness. The first part is set around the German invasion of France during the Second World War and details the occupation, and importantly, the responses and reactions by the people of the time, whereas the second novel includes more romance and a much more fictional feel.
I was pleasantly surprised about how I was kept interested in the lives of the people who were packing their worldly possessions to move out of Paris for fear of the Germans coming. The stories of the rich and wealthy and how they manage to survive despite a world war in full progress illustrated the realities of social stratification. I found it interesting and insightful that the German soldiers were presented as ‘ordinary young men’ who simply had a job to do. People they encountered carried on their daily business and the irony of the end of the different characters kept me amused (characters died under normal circumstances rather than the result of war). In our group, some of us felt lost with the different characters and had to stay focused to keep up, perhaps because there was a lack of continuity and many characters that dropped in and out of the story. All in all, I was glad to have read this book although in truth it is not one I would have chosen on my own, so its just as well it was a book club must for us!