Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Daughters of War by Dinah Jefferies, the first in a new series set in World War 2 occupied France. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in the tour and to HarperCollins for my digital review copy.
About the Book
France, 1944. Deep in the river valley of the Dordogne, in an old stone cottage on the edge of a beautiful village, three sisters long for the end of the war.
Hélène, the eldest, is trying her hardest to steer her family to safety, even as the Nazi occupation becomes more threatening. Élise, the rebel, is determined to help the Resistance, whatever the cost. And Florence, the dreamer, just yearns for a world where France is free.
Then, one dark night, the Allies come knocking for help. And Helene knows that she cannot sit on the sidelines any longer. But bravery comes at a cost, and soon the sisters’ lives become even more perilous as they fight for what is right. And secrets from their own mysterious past threaten to unravel everything they hold most dear…
Format: Paperback (544 pages) Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 16th September 2021 Genre: Historical Fiction
Find Daughters of War (Daughters of War #1) on Goodreads
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Told in alternating chapters from the point of view of Hélène, Élise and Florence, the author carefully delineates the three sisters’ personalities. Hélène is sensible, cautious and feels a keen sense of responsibility towards her younger sisters in the absence of their mother. Élise is impulsive, courageous but at times heedless of the risks to which she exposes herself and her sisters. Florence is sensitive, caring and has an instinctive feeling for the natural world. At first, the sisters lead a charmed life, tucked away in their cottage and fortified by the food Florence seems to be able to create out of nothing. They are also fortunate to have, or have come into their lives, three handsome men who offer them practical help, reassurance and often a little bit more.
It is Hugo, the local doctor, and his wife Marie, who initially experience the realities of life under the Nazis. However, everything also changes for the sisters following a brutal encounter (the nature of which may be triggering for some) which is quite different in tone from that of the book so far. In fact, this event signals a change to a much more dramatic storyline during which the author explores in minute detail how each of the sisters respond emotionally to the often traumatic experiences they witness. The revelation concerning their mother towards the end of the book, although resolving a mystery signalled early on, may not come as that much of a surprise to the observant reader but does bring unexpected complications.
What the book does particularly well is convey the realities of life under German occupation: the violence of the Vichy-supporting Milice, the fear of reprisals for acts of sabotage by the Resistance, the shortages of food and fuel. It’s a time of distrust, divided loyalties and uncertainty about what tomorrow might bring. After all, how can you plan for the future when you don’t even know if you’ll be there to see it? ‘The world was cracking and splintering deep in its bowels. And people were falling through the cracks, never knowing which of them was going to meet their fate.’
Another strength of the book is its descriptions of the landscape of the Dordogne, a gift surely to the area’s tourist board. So, through the eyes of the sisters, the reader is given a picture of ‘the languid twists of the river’ from which can be seen castles perched on high cliffs and fortified hilltop towers with old stone walls.
The first in a planned trilogy, in the concluding chapters of Daughters of War the author lays the groundwork for a number of possible story arcs in subsequent books.
In three words: Romantic, sweeping, dramatic
Try something similar: The Girl From Vichy by Andie Newton
About the Author
Dinah Jefferies began her career with The Separation, followed by the number 1 Sunday Times and Richard and Judy bestseller, The Tea-Planter’s Wife. Born in Malaysia, she moved to England at the age of nine. As a teenager she missed the heat of Malaysia, which left her with a kind of restlessness that led to quite an unusual life. She studied fashion design, went to live in Tuscany where she worked as an au-pair for an Italian countess, and there was even a time when
Dinah lived with a rock band in a ‘hippie’ commune in Suffolk.
In 1985, the death of her fourteen-year-old son changed everything and she now draws on the experience of loss in her writing. She started writing novels in her sixties and sets her books abroad, aiming to infuse love, loss and danger with the extremely seductive beauty of her locations.