- Author: Liza Perrat
- Published: October 2013 by Perrat Publishing
- Category: Historical Fiction, WWII, Book Review, Books, Reading
Seven decades after German troops march into her village, Céleste Roussel is still unable to assuage her guilt.
1943. German soldiers occupy provincial Lucie-sur-Vionne, and as the villagers pursue treacherous schemes to deceive and swindle the enemy, Céleste embarks on her own perilous mission as her passion for a Reich officer flourishes.
We first meet Céleste Roussel as an elderly lady attending a memorial ceremony with the remaining survivors of their village, along with their families. The atrocities and personal losses of WWII still weigh heavily and as Céleste reads the engraved names she is assaulted by memories, the decisions she made, actions she took, the feelings of guilt and sorrow which never truly leave her. Her granddaughter now wears the bone angel talisman passed down through the women of her family for generations.
I glance across at my granddaughter, who wears the bone angel necklace these days. She’s gripping the pendant between her thumb and forefinger as I used to; as countless kinswomen of L’Auberge des Anges did before us. I touch the spot where it once lay against my own breast, feeling its warmth as if I were still wearing the little sculpture.
I wonder again if my daughter and granddaughter truly understand what that heirloom endured with me through those years of the occupation. Can they grasp the comfort, the strength it gave me? I doubt it. You’d have to live through a thing like that to really know how it was.
This second book in The Bone Angel trilogy tells of Celeste’s life in Occupied France. The story, narrated by the young Céleste, gives a personal account of her experiences, as Lucie-sur-Vionne suffers under the rule of German forces. Her father had been taken to work for the Reich, her mother’s income was supplemented by her herbal remedies and her role as ‘angel maker’. Céleste and her mother have a difficult relationship, both are harbouring dangerous and traumatic secrets.
Céleste’s brother, Patrick, is a Resistance fighter with their friend, Olivier, and her sister, a nun, hides Jewish fugitives at the convent. Headstrong and sometimes reckless, Céleste wants nothing more than to fight for France and after proving herself a worthy candidate, she travels to Lyons to join the Resistance. Her courage is tested to its limits with tension filled exploits driven by anger and revenge. All leave their mark but through it all she grows and develops.
Based on historical fact, this powerful and skilfully written tale depicts the dangers, hardships and turbulence experienced by those who lived through the Occupation. Atmospheric and vividly descriptive, we see what an intense and far reaching effect it has on those subjected to unimaginable callousness and fear. The last horrific atrocity carried out by the Germans as the war comes to a close is the most horrendous and leaves Céleste with the literal and figurative scars that will haunt her throughout her life. A moving and tragic end to the story, made especially so by the author’s note at the end of the book.
I chose to read and review Wolfsangel for Rosie Amber’s book review team.
About the Author
Liza grew up in Australia, working as a general nurse and midwife. She has now been living in France for over twenty years, where she works as a part-time medical translator and a novelist. She is the author of the historical The Bone Angelseries. The first, Spirit of Lost Angels is set in 18thcentury revolutionary France. The second, Wolfsangel is set during the WW2 Nazi Occupation and the French Resistance, and the third novel – Blood Rose Angel –– is set during the 14thcentury Black Plague years.
Her latest novel, The Silent Kookaburra, is a psychological suspense, set in 1970s Australia.