‘You and me – we’re sisters, not enemies. We’ve got a real enemy at our door and we need to focus on that – together, united. I don’t want to be fighting you as well.’
In the small French town of Colmar, swastikas hang from lampposts, tanks are lined up outside the town hall, and twenty-one-year-old Marie-Claire is in love. She will do anything for her childhood friend Jacques, including spying on her German boss, Dietrich Kurtz. Anything to make Jacques see her in a new light, as something more than just a silly little girl.
But when Jacques rejects her, everything changes. Mortified and stung, Marie-Claire feels the need for revenge. She turns her back on those she loves and is catapulted into a new life.
Her little sister Victoire is aghast at her sister’s traitorous behaviour, not least because Marie-Claire is endangering Victoire’s own life-threatening mission, hiding Jewish refugees in their mother’s wine cellar. And when Marie-Claire marries Kurtz, Victoire knows her relationship with her sister has been poisoned for ever.
But when Victoire learns someone she loves is in terrible danger, her only choice is to trust the sister who betrayed her. Kurtz, Marie-Claire’s cruel and heartless husband, has key information and Victoire must persuade Marie-Claire to obtain it, even if it means risking Marie-Claire’s life. As secrets come to light and close bonds are broken, will the sisters be able to heal old wounds?
An unforgettable and unputdownable story of two sisters ripped apart by World War 2. Fans of The Nightingale and The Ragged Edge of Night will fall in love with Her Darkest Hour.
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This was such a beautiful, moving and heartbreaking story. Set in World War II, as the Germans have taken over Alsace, the locals have to get used to their new German way of life, and some take to it more than others. Despite the fact that she is an Alsatian, Marie-Claire ends up working for the Nazi’s – which leads to more than she could ever have imagined. With her family fully onside with the Resistance, and acting as a safe house for Jews trying to escape, Marie-Claire is alienated from her family and her sister Victoire.
Victoire is a strong, young woman who wants to do her bit for the war, and when she finds out that one of her extended family is in danger, she has no choice but to reach out to Marie-Claire, despite her traitorous behaviour. As forgiving as she is, can she really excuse the things Marie-Claire has done……and will she help her? As time is ticking away, they must try to reunite for the good of their family.
I was completely gripped by this story, and absolutely gobsmacked at times. Marie-Claire isn’t the sort of character you will easily like, but she goes through some incredibly tough times. Starting out as a somewhat spoilt brat who thinks the war won’t affect her, Marie-Claire ends up affected more than most in a horrible way……. Victoire, in contrast, is only a teen but is strong and brave, willing to do whatever she can to help her country and the allies. It’s lovely to see her grow as the war rages on. There are some remarkable characters in this.- Jacques, Margaux (a formidable woman!), Juliette, Nathan, Eric and Marcel….all who do their bit for the Resistance, and some pay the ultimate price. And as you would expect, with a WWII novel, there are some absolutely despicable characters who you will detest.
Maas has done a fantastic job of researching and at the end of the book, shares with us which parts are true, and again it’s heartbreaking. Her Darkest Hour really bought to life what it may have been like to live in German occupied Alsace, what the locals had to put up with and what they lost at the hands of the Nazi’s. The story also covers a labour camp, and Maas has done this is a sensitive way.
There are some subjects within the book that readers should be aware of. The story does cover rape and miscarriage, as well as the tragedies that we have come to know were carried out by the Nazi’s.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction. It will set you on an emotional rollercoaster, shock you, break your heart, but also warm your heart in places. Covering love, friendship, secrets, family, betrayal, loyalty, sacrifice and reunion, this beautiful story should not be missed. I’m will most definitely be searching for more from this author, and looking out for future books from her.
about the author
Sharon Maas was born in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1951 and educated in Guyana and England. After leaving school she worked as a staff journalist at the Guyana Graphic and the Sunday Chronicle in Georgetown.
Sharon has always had a great sense of adventure and curiosity about the world we live in, and Guyana could not hold her for long. In 1971 she set off on a year-long backpacking trip around South America. In 1973 she travelled overland to India through Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and spent two years in an Ashram in South India.
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