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Another view of Occupied France...
on 18 June 2001
I bought this book for the author rather than the story, 'Birdsong' being one of the most powerful books I have ever had the pleasure to read. It certainly is a different kind of story (and War) and I only realised the connection with one of the Birdsong characters when I was well into this book. I cannot say I found it a riveting read for most of the book, but what comes across strongly is the internal struggle in France during the Second World War,not so much with the Occupier, but between the French themselves. This manifests itself in Charlotte Gray's dealings with individuals and the various factions, all of whom seem to have different agendas. Most hate the Germans, some the British, and some their own French countrymen.I had never appreciated the division and strength of feeling, and ultimately what it did to some, namely the Jewish people. What builds to an inevitible and awful conclusion in the last 50 or so pages of the book, eclipses the rest to the extent that nothing else seemed to have happened. It brings the Holocaust down to an individual level where the suffering is almost too much to contemplate, and focuses on three people, two of them young children, amongst the tide of humanity caught up in that horrendous and dark period of our social history. This is but a small part of the book, but will remain in one's mind for a long time.