EXCERPT: She was propelled down the stairs, tumbling, dragged. Shoved into a car. She could sense the two Feldgendarmen following, sitting either side of her. She was aware of their arms, the hard metal badge on their chests, aware of them making gestures.
The car was driving fast, tyres squealing as they rounded the corners, hitting the kerb stones as they went, throwing (her) against the Feldgendarmen. The car came to a halt, the door opened.
They pulled her out. She could smell the sea, hear the breath of waves as they lapped against the stone. Gulls screeched above. She was still in town. Perhaps by the harbour, in the square in front of the Pomme d’Or. A Feldgendarmen grabbed her arm, marched her up the steps. The Pomme d’Or had no stairs. She caught the scent of jasmine through the mouldy hessian of her hood. Jasmine.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: Dora, Joe, and Geoffrey are living out their retirement comfortably when their worlds are shattered by the arrival of Barbara Hummel, a young German anxious to track down the identity of a mysterious woman whose photograph she finds amongst her mother’s possessions.
As the truth of what happened under the
occupation begins to be revealed, the lives of Dora, a Jewish refugee, and Joe, a Catholic priest, begin to unravel in shocking and surprising ways. The consequences of the lives they lived under the Germans and the lies that followed
are as unexpected as they are devastating.
MY THOUGHTS: I was lulled into a false sense of security at the beginning of The Hidden. It was such a comfortable read that I wanted to move in with these people. Now? No thank you!
Mary Chamberlain has perfected the art of contrasting the everyday, the mundane, with the horrors of the war. She details great beauty and great cruelty with equal passion. She makes us fall in love with her main characters, both the 1940s versions, and the people that they become.
She has introduced me to aspects of the war of which I was previously unaware. The Hidden had me falling in love with Jersey, and crying at the atrocities that took place. I stayed up late last night, reading, and was late to work this morning because I lingered over this book. I read it at morning tea, taking myself off to a quiet corner, and finished it over lunch with tears trickling down my cheeks.
The Hidden is a book that I unreservedly recommend. It is written with a great depth of feeling and the subject has been well researched.
THE AUTHOR: Mary Chamberlain is a novelist and historian. Her book Fenwomen was the first book to be published by Virago Press in 1975. Since then, she has published six other works of history, and edited a further five. Her first novel, The Mighty Jester was published by Dr. Cicero Books in the US. Her British debut novel, The Dressmaker of Dachau was published by HarperCollins in the UK and, under the title The Dressmaker’s War, by Random House in the USA. In all, it sold to 19 countries and was an international best-seller. Her last novel, The Hidden, was published by OneWorld Publications in February 2019. The Sunday Times listed it as their MUST READ choice of the best recent books in February 2019.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to One World Publications via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Hidden by Mary Chamberlain for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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