My thanks to NetGalley and publisher Canelo for the ARC. If you think you are going to read a love-story with WW2 as a backdrop - this is not it. This is a story of two lonely people, drawn together by a shared interest in music, trying to survive amidst the desperation, the callousness, the deprivations and rabid incriminations between citizens and neighbours within occupied France prior to the D-Day invasions. (Very apt as I read this during that commemorative week.)
Starting this book, and for several chapters which introduced SS Tank Commander Count Maximilian van Aschau and his close comrades on the Eastern Front in 1943, I began to doubt if I could carry on reading. The reason was that this section was absolutely littered with German phrases and I began to think if it were all like this then, well, no thank you. (I found the glossary at the end of the book - a bit too late!) However, it gets better, except then the narrative is interspersed with such antiquated English terms I really had to give the Dictionary look-up a good work-out. Why the author chooses to use such prose is quite beyond me - but it takes all sorts I suppose - but it certainly disrupts any flow to reading.
Well, I stuck with it. Max takes leave at his ancestral home in Bavaria, before being transferred to France to prepare defences for a possible allied invasion. Lucie Lere is an uneducated farm girl living with her grandmother but working for her mother's restaurant in the village. She is instructed to take Max's lunch to him each day and their shared love of music leads to their relationship.
Village gossip, and Lucie's long-term but disfigured suitor, combine to make their relationship untenable. Reprisals are brutal. One life is saved in return for another.
The atrocities represented are not for the feint-hearted.
Once well into the book I really wanted to find out what happened to Max and Lucie, and to a point we do; however I found the ending rather inconclusive and 'hanging', rather unsatisfactory.
A decent-enough story, but the use of language both in the foreign and antiquated sense really spoiled it for me. Not a smooth read at all.