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November 14, 2020

3 Stories of World War II

by Susan Roberts

I've read a lot of WWII books recently in my extra spare time.  The following three books all have strong female characters who made a difference.
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Three Hours in Paris by Cara Black

Three Hours in Paris
April 2020; Soho Crime; 978-1641290418
audio, ebook, print (360 pages); mystery
"As calmly as she could and willing her mind still, Kate reloaded within three seconds, aimed at his black hair above his ear as he leaned over, extending his hand to the little girl's head, ruffling her hair.  The guards were laughing now, focused on the Fuhrer, whose fondness for children was well known."
  (loc 201)

Cara Black is best known for her popular Aimee Leduc investigative series set in Paris. This is her first historical fiction and first stand-alone novel.  She did extensive research to make this book realistic and it shows on every page.  She got the idea for this book based on the three hours that Hitler spend in Paris in 1940.  After that, she created an entirely fictional story with a main character that will be long remembered and a plot that keeps you turning pages to learn the fate of the main character.

Kate Rees is an American who learned to shoot when she grew up on a ranch in Oregon.  As the story begins, she lives in England with her husband and daughter.  When a tragedy occurs, she is distraught and not sure if her life is worth living.  She is recruited by British intelligence and sent on a dangerous mission.  They knew that Hitler was going to visit Paris and her assignment was to assassinate him.  She misses her shot because she knows she will hurt a young girl standing next to him.  When his intelligent officers realize that a shot has been fired at their leader, they begin a deep search for the shooter and Kate's life is in extreme danger.  With minimal training, she manages to stay one step ahead of the people who are looking for her but will her luck continue as she begins to wonder if the entire mission was a set up to divert attention.   

This is a fast-paced novel with a lot of tension as the Germans play a cat and mouse game with the resourceful Kate.  I thought that Kate was smart and resourceful despite the minimal training that she had gotten from British intelligence.  She is a main character that I won't soon forget.  I enjoyed this novel so much that I've started reading the author's crime series. 

Buy Three Hours in Paris at Amazon

Hitler in Paris: How a Photograph Shocked a World at War
Hitler in Paris: How a Photograph
Shocked a World at War

The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards

The Black Swan of Paris
June 2020; MIRA; 978-0778309338
audio, ebook, print (480 pages); WWII fiction
"When the worst thing that could ever happen to you had already happened, nothing that came after really mattered."
(loc 18)

The Black Swan of Paris is the first historical fiction book from this prolific author of women's fiction.  This was such a fantastic book that I hope she has plans to write more historical fiction in the future.

It's 1944 and Genevieve Dumont is a popular singer in Paris known by all as the Black Swan and is loved by the German soldiers who have taken over the city.  Even though the people of Paris are starving, the German hierarchy lived well and enjoyed the good life. Max, her manager, is part of the resistance and uses Genevieve to gather information and send messages.  Her work goes undetected because she is the toast of the town and able to travel all over Europe to sing.  She's estranged from her mother and sister but when she finds out that her mother, a major member of the Resistance, has been arrested and is being tortured for information, she knows that she must reunite with her sister to save their mother.  Will she be able to remain safe while she helps her mother survive?

This is a well-researched novel about the war in France.  It's a book about family and forgiveness along with a bit of romance during a tumultuous time in history.

 Buy The Black Swan of Paris at Amazon

Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon

Code Name Helene
March 2020; Doubleday; 978-0385544689
audio, ebook, print (464 pages); biographical
“The thing about lipstick, the reason it’s so powerful, is that it is distracting. Men don’t see the flashes of anger in your eyes or your clenched fists when you wear it. They see a woman, not a warrior, and that gives me the advantage.”
(p 195)

This fantastic new novel is based on the life of Nancy Wake who became one of the most decorated women in WWII.  She is an Australian who moved to Paris to become a reporter but soon fell in love with a rich French industrialist.  After the Germans invaded Paris she decided that she has to help Jewish people escape from France before they are found by the Germans.  When she is suspected of helping people escape, she moves to Marseilles where she feels like she will be safer.  The Germans refer to  her as the White Mouse and she soon has a bounty of five million francs on her head.  She escapes from France into England and then after training in England she is dropped back into France to help train the members of the resistance who are loyal to France but often lacking in training and guns.  She was one of the most powerful leaders in the French resistance and even though she always insisted on wearing her red lipstick, she was a ferocious fighter and a hero for her accomplishments in the war. 

Note:  Be sure to read the author's notes at the end of the book to learn more about the life of Nancy Wake.

Buy Code Name Helene at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. Since her travel plans had to be canceled for this year, she is starting to make plans for travel in 2021. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter

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