Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is a small village in the mountains of France, known as place for summer vacations. During World War II, it served as much more than that. The locals helped hide Jews, resisters, and communists. Many were children that were integrated in to every day life so that non-locals wouldn't know who was supposed to be there and who wasn't. The villagers thought their actions were completely normal and wanted no recognition for what happened, which is why we are only hearing about this story now.
My expectation from this book was to be horrified by the Nazi's actions and uplifted by the actions of the French villagers. This book paints Vichy France, the government, as the problem by blindly following the Nazis and doing whatever they request without pushing back. Having read Sarah's Key a while back, this wasn't surprising but for some reason it still surprises me when I read it.
The problem with this book is that I didn't feel overly uplifted by the story of what the French villagers were doing. Reflecting on this, I think it's because I felt that Moorehead skimmed over everything, trying to cover off each person, story, event and never took anything in to details. Just when I was starting to get in to the rhythm of the story that was being told, it was on to the next person, the next story. For example, author Camus was mentioned because he was in France during the war but it didn't really tie in to anything in the village and it was never in more than a few paragraphs at a time.
The other item in this book that seemed to have me reading it slower was the use of proper nouns. Every single sentence in this book had multiple proper nouns being used. I had to slow down for each to try and remember whether it was a city, person, group, etc. Opening up the book to a random sentence (I added the bolding): "His headquarters were at Le Puy, on the Boulevard Marechal Fayolle, named after the much-decorated hero of the Somme and the Marne." None of the proper nouns mean anything to me. It's a weird complaint and one I've never had about a book before, but an issue to me nonetheless.
I feel that this book would have been much more effective if Moorehead had focused on a few characters and committed to telling us their stories from beginning to end.
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour.
First Line: "When Aaron Liwerant brought Sara, his fiancee, to Paris from his parents' house in Warsaw in the summer of 1926, France was a good place for refugees."