The story begins in the 1980s. A young African-American reporter is in France covering the 40th anniversary of D-Day. There she meets an older French woman at a cafe who happens to also be black. As they watch aging soldiers celebrate and share memories of the war, a song is played that has the eldest of the two women misty-eyed with memories. Her name is Veronique and she offers to tell the young reporter her story. The book
takes you back to 17 year old Veronique, a French woman whose parents have died and who is now left caring for a senile, yet wealthy white woman and her estate. She aids the Resistance, but as a lone black woman in a land that is swarming with Germans she tries to stay low. Calvin is an American soldier from Montana. He is a part of the Airborne and he and his team are to jump and make way for the rest of the soldiers. Things go wrong however, and Calvin literally falls at Veronique's doorstep in the middle of the night. She takes care of his wounds and does her best to hide him from the Nazis. As they co-exist and even thwart Nazi troops together, the two develop feelings for one another and fall in love. But this is the 1940s, and love between the races isn't going to be easy. The question is will love be enough to keep them together or will race, or worse death, keep them apart.
WoW! I simply cannot express how great this book is. I mean it really sucked me in and made me feel like I was living it and taking part in the action. The characters were solid, and believable for their time. Veronique is a wonderful character. She is so young but she is very brave and doesn't sit back and wait for trouble to find her. Even though she is the only black woman in her town, she knows how important it is for her to play a part in the resistance and she's there when needed. Cal's first delirious thought was that Veronique was an angel saving him, and in a very real way she was. He was a man who hadn't ever given race much thought. He did think Veronique was beautiful though, and her actions made her even more so to him. I really believed that these two had developed feelings for one another. I went through a whole gamut of emotions when it came to what they went through because of what others felt about people of color even though they were in the middle of a war with Germany.
The writing. Did I say how wonderful and chillingly realistic a lot of the writing is in this book? There is a pivotal scene where our hero is preparing to jump out of a plane. Anti-aircraft missiles are exploding around the plane, the pilot is erratic and flying more in fear than anything else. The adrenaline and outright terror leaps off the page. This was heart pounding stuff and I felt like I was on that plane preparing to jump into my possible death. Without a doubt the author did her research and it comes through in the writing. Kudos.
The racism in this book was also accurate for the time period and the story wouldn't have seemed genuine if the author had tried to avoid it. I know that some readers don't like to read about racism in their books, and I don't generally like for it to be a focus in most of the books that I read. But this was WWII and yeah, prejudice was alive and really kicking back then. Interracial couples were not common and for the most part not acceptable. Anyone swimming against the tide was going to have some difficulties. Like I said this book was pretty realistic in just about every way, and that only enhanced the story for me. Any struggles that Cal and Veronique went through made their love more beautiful and powerful in my opinion.
This is a true love story. I highly recommend it and happily give it a 5 out of 5 rating.
Rating: 5 stars
Published: September 27, 2014