It’s my pleasure to join the blog tour for Spring Breeze, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources.
I have a guest post, extract and giveaway by the author, Angela Barton, for my stop on the blog tour. Over to you, Angela…
“Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” Nelson Mandela
The title, Spring Breeze, sounds like a light and romantic read, but Operation Spring Breeze was the name chosen by the Nazis for the roundup of the Jews in Paris. Could they have chosen a more conflicting name?
On 16th and 17th July 1942, over 13,000 Jewish men, women and children were detained at the Vélodrome d’Hiver (Vel d’Hiv) close to the Eiffel Tower. Jewish families were transported and detained at the Vel d’Hiv for five days in appalling conditions. There were no toilets or washing facilities, no food, little water and with the roof shut, the July heat was oppressive. Some were driven to take their own lives, others died while detained, or shot by their guards. Those who survived for five days were then taken to concentration camps.
Matilde, my protagonist, hoped to navigate her way through the occupation by keeping her head down, but something happened in my story that changed her. She found an inner strength and courage. Perhaps we only discover our strength when we’re pushed beyond the limits of what we feel we can cope with. As with my previous historical book, Arlette’s Story, I’ve written about a real and tragic event that occurred during World War 2. I think it’s vital that we keep these memories alive for future generations, and in writing Spring Breeze, I hope to honour those families involved in the roundup, those who suffered and those who died. I also want to highlight the courageous men and women who risked their lives to save others and in many cases, losing their lives in doing so.
Here’s a short extract from Spring Breeze where Matilde tries to join the local resistance cell.
Henri opened his mouth to speak, but he sighed instead.
‘What?’ she asked. ‘You don’t think I’m capable? You don’t need me?’
Henri lifted a hand. ‘I assure you that isn’t the reason. Please take a seat.’
Matilde sat down. A black coffee and slices of dry bread were pushed towards her. She accepted immediately. The bread was dense and dry, but very welcome.
Henri lit a thin, bent cigarette, billowing smoke towards the ceiling.
‘Let’s take things a little slower. I know you met everyone briefly last time you were here, but let me tell you a little more about us. We’re just a group of Parisians who are shaken by the sight of our occupied city. Like you, we have lost loved ones.’
‘Not lost. Tortured and murdered.’
‘You’re right. Our remedy against our anger is to act together. We meet and swap news, write and distribute anti-German leaflets and plan small but important ways in which to fight back. We’re not under any illusions of the practical effects of our limited acts, but they help us to stay sane under this occupation. Small seeds of resistance may blow in the wind but grow stronger elsewhere, like cutting telephone lines or sabotaging transport. But it’s not just sabotage. There are even smaller ways of fighting back. If a German speaks in his own language, pretend you don’t understand even if you get the gist of what they’re saying. If they ask you a question in poor French, tell them a lie. If they ask for directions, send them the wrong way.’ He leant back in his chair.
‘Can’t we do more?’
‘It may seem petty,’ said Henri, ‘but if one of them drives in the wrong direction because of your inaccurate directions, it may give a fellow French man time to escape. We keep contact with Germans to a minimum. We show outward indifference. We don’t make eye contact unless absolutely necessary. As a woman you could refuse offers of seats made by Germans on the Metro. Small victories, but victories nonetheless.’
‘I want to join you. I want to do more.’
‘Undeniably, having a member of the team working at the museum would be a great asset. We’d be grateful if you could safely give us details of anything you think may be of use, but not if it means putting yourself in danger.’
‘When is your next meeting? Where are the others?’
‘They’re at work. Charles is a doctor. His wife and young daughter moved south last year to live with his mother. As you can imagine, his skills have been invaluable.’
‘Philippe is a retired mechanic. Without him a lot more German cars would be running smoothly around Paris. His specialty is sabotaging transport. He lives with his wife, Lisette, who magically conjures up meals for us out of nothing. Francis is an undertaker. He takes over when Charles’s services arrive too late, sadly all too often. Then there’s young Pierre. He was a journalist before everything changed, but has access to printing machines and knows many contacts.’
‘And what about you?’
‘I’m a tailor, or I was when there were clothes to buy and alter. I’m good with these,’ said Henri, raising his hands. ‘I can do a bit of joinery, paint and I can wield a spade in the garden.’
Hearing about these ordinary men had a calming effect on Matilde. ‘Sorry. I didn’t mean to be so rude when I came in. It’s just that I feel so powerless.’
‘In our own small, quiet ways we try to disrupt them and impair their plans. The important words here are small and quiet. We plan carefully. We watch and listen. We stay invisible. You can’t be effective if you’re angry and seeking revenge. It leads to mistakes and mistakes cost lives. For this reason, you’re not ready to join us yet.’
Thanks so much for this, Angela.
Paris, June 1940. The enemy has entered the city and Matilde Pascale hopes to sink into the shadows for the entirety of the war. However, when tragedy strikes it changes everything and Matilde focuses on revenge in order to fight back against the Nazis and their heinous crimes against humanity. But life sometimes takes a bizarre twist and it seems that love has a way of infiltrating the most impenetrable of boundaries. A common purpose drives two enemies into each other’s arms and together they discover the capacity of their combined strength.
Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/eSpringBreeze
Angela Barton was born in London and grew up in Nottingham. She has three grown up children and loves to spend time with her eight-year-old twin granddaughters and a new baby granddaughter born Christmas 2021. Angela is passionate about writing both contemporary and historical fiction and loves time spent researching for her novels. She lived in France whilst writing Spring Breeze and explored Paris and its catacombs for Spring Breeze. In 2018 Angela signed publishing contracts for three of her completed novels. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, a reader for their New Writers’ Scheme, a member of the Society of Authors and also Ellipses and Ampersands’ fiction critique group.
Angela is busy writing her fifth novel set in France during WW2. Her next story takes us away from the capital to the Pyrenees bordering Spain.
In addition to writing, Angela also relaxes by making landscapes using free motion sewing on a machine and has a small online gift business at http://www.buttonmooncreations.com
Giveaway to Win A Parisian tote bag, a Spring Breeze notebook and Hotel Chocolat Pink Champagne chocolates (Open to Europe Only)
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