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Customer Review

on 28 January 2012
Bored with her life, her boyfriend and her conventional life in London, Rosie decides in 1939, despite the signs that war is on its way, that she'll go and work in Europe as an au pair to a French family in Avignon. "Nothing would interfere with my life," she writes.

Although she has every opportunity to return to England before France is engulfed in war, she procrastinates, as she does not want to lose face with her family. At her father's request the British Consul in Marseille offers to repatriate her and help her financially. She declines.

Instead she goes Paris in time to watch the Germans parade into the city. She is eventually interned as an enemy alien for several months in spartan, squalid and insanitary conditions, but is then is moved to a new location in a luxury hotel complex set in Vittel. There are parklands to walk in, tennis courts, bridge parties, orchestras, a hairdresser and amateur dramatics. However, Rosie decides that she will escape with one of her friends.

This she does, heedless that she is putting at risk the lives of a chain of people who help her. Eventually she reaches Marseille, where she feels that she should be placed at the top of the list to return to England, never mind the thousands of desperate refugees. Financed by the British Consulate she enjoys a lively social life for several months while waiting for the necessary paperwork to be completed. When in due course she is repatriated, she regards herself as a heroine, and is feted as such.

She comes across as a wilful, selfish woman for whom the escape was a bit of a jape, and appears untouched by the concern of her family for her welfare and the risks taken by those who helped her escape.

Once safely back in England, she engages in a 5-year battle with the British Government over the money they had given her to support her in Marseille and her flight home. She is angry and indignant at being expected to repay anything.

I found her most unlikeable, more of a fool than a heroine, and her story an insult to all the women who were captured fighting for their countries, and were interned in dreadful conditions from which they would never return.
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