Roberta Writes – The Peaceful Village by Paulette Mahurin #RBRT #Bookreview #readingcommunity

What Amazon says

During the German occupation of France, nestled in the lush, verdant countryside in the Haute-Vienne department of central France was the peaceful village of Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a community where villagers woke to the medley of nature’s songs, roosters crowing, birds chirping, cats purring, and cows plodding on their way out to pasture. The people who lived there loved the tranquil nature of their beautiful home, a tranquility that existed year-round. Even with the German occupation, Oradour-sur-Glane – the village with cafés, shops, and a commuter tram to Limoges – remained relatively untouched by the stress of the occupation.

While Oradour-sur-Glane enjoyed the lack of German presence, twenty-two kilometers to the northwest in Limoges, the Germans were reacting with increasing cruelty to organized attacks on their soldiers by the armed resistance organization Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP). Headed by Amédé Fauré, the Limoges FTP was considered the most effective of the French Resistance groups. Fauré’s missions prompted the German military to kill and incarcerate in concentration camps anyone perceived as supporters or sympathizers of the Resistance.

Up until the middle of 1944, the German anti-partisan actions in France never rose to the level of brutality or number of civilian casualties that had occurred in eastern Europe. A little before the Allies landed in Normandy, all that changed, when German troops, and in particular the Waffen-SS, stationed on the Eastern Front were transferred to France. It was then that FTP’s increasing efforts to disrupt German communications and supply lines were met with disproportionate counter attacks, involving civilians. Fauré’s response was to target German officers. When he set his sights on two particular German officers, all hell broke loose.

Based on actual events as told by survivors, The Peaceful Village is the fictionalized story of the unfolding of the events that led up to one of the biggest World War II massacres on French soil. Much more than an account of Nazi brutality and the futility of war, this is a story of love.The love of family. The love of neighbor. The love of country. Compassion and courage burn from the pages as the villagers’ stories come alive. Written by the international bestselling author of The Seven Year Dress, Paulette Mahurin, this book pays homage to the villagers who lived and loved in Oradour-sur-Glane.

My review

I reviewed this book in my capacity as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team. If you would like your book reviewed, you can contact Rosie Amber here: http://rosieamber.wordpress.com/.

I enjoy reading books about World War II and I’ve read and enjoyed another book by this author, so when I saw The Peaceful Village, I knew I had to read it. I knew it would be a tough read before I started but I must admit that this particular event shocked me to my core. It seems beyond comprehension that any normal human being with a soul can behave in such a callous and brutal way towards civilians.

This book is historical fiction and based on a real event so I knew the ending before I began. Reading a couple of paragraphs about a tragedy of this nature is, however, quite a different experience to reading a fictionalized account of it. The author’s great strength with this book is the detailed manner in which she depicted the main characters and the specifics of their lives and how she made the reader care about them. Even the supporting characters feel like neighbours and friends.

Francoise is one of the main characters. The wife of a French carrot farmer, she is worn down from years of working the land and her spirit is ailing due to the German occupation. Francoise is given an opportunity of a job at the local church in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, which leads to her becoming involved in a small way with the French resistance and their efforts to hide Jewish families. Francoise blossoms in her new role and becomes the reader’s measure of normality and representation of the comfortable and peaceful lifestyles of the villagers.

The story moves between life in the village, largely told through the eyes of Francoise, and the activities of the French resistance who are using terrorist tactics to fight the occupying German forces. This tactic works well as the reader knows more about what is happening with the French resistance and the Nazi occupiers than the villagers of Oradour. It creates a lot of tension as the reader can see how the events are likely to unfold as the villagers go about their daily lives.

This is a beautifully written and heart rending book which has been well researched and presented. Anyone who is interested in WW2 and the effect of the Nazi regime on the local population in France will appreciate this book. 

Purchase The Peaceful Village

Profits from Paulette Mahurin’s books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.

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44 thoughts on “Roberta Writes – The Peaceful Village by Paulette Mahurin #RBRT #Bookreview #readingcommunity

  1. I saw another glowing review of this book, Robbie. I’ve hesitated because it sounds emotionally devastating and I’m not sure I can bear it. I think I would have the same shocked and horrified reaction as you. These stories, however, need to be told, and they can inspire. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and recommendation.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Pauline is an amazing writer. I find her books heart-rending and sometimes, I just can’t do it. Life has gotten pretty heart-rending and I need to at least use books to get some distance from the pain of life. But everything of hers I’ve read — I think I have half a dozen books (though I haven’t finished all of them) are beautifully written.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Annette, it is true that history needs to be relatable so fictional retellings based on carefully researched facts do play a vital role in helping us all remember. It does feel as if history repeats itself but I do think a lot of people still remember the horror of WW1 and WW2.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It does sound like a difficult read, Robbie, but also one that makes a strong impact. I’m presently reading a nonfiction that spent the last two chapters dealing on the tragedies of WWII.I didn’t expect to encounter those chapters in the book itself and am having a hard time getting some of the images out of my head. Definitely a dark, dark time in our history.

    I applaud the author for tackling such a difficult subject, and drawing attention to history we must never repeat.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. HI Mae, this book was a tough read, but worthwhile and the ending is satisfying. I write dark stuff myself and am drawn to trying to unravel the psychology of man. Hubby is always telling me to stop trying to understand why people do things I think are so strange/mean/selfish – pick a word, but I can’t help myself.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I once took a class at my university from a Holocaust survivor. He remained undiscovered, hiding in a house while the rest of his family was slaughtered by the Nazis. He was just a young boy but managed to flee the country after another family took him in. His was a story I’ll never forget.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Pete, the psychological scars must be deep and never healing. I remember watching Sophie’s Choice starring Meryl Streep when I was a young mother. I have never forgotten how the thought of choosing between my babies made me feel. I still sometimes think about it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. HI Lauren, Paulette is an excellent writer. Her books do bring horrors to the fore but that is a good thing, it keeps the history alive. The Peaceful Village really shows how the Nazis took depravity of the human spirit to a whole new level. It is horrific and beyond comprehensive. I just keep wondering why?

      Liked by 1 person

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