I absolutely love the cover of Resistance Book 1 Liberty, the first book in Eilidh McGinness’s World War II trilogy; I think it is so gritty, eye catching and unique. I was attracted to it straight away. And now that I have I read the novel, I find the story just as unique and captivating as the cover.
As I have been reading a lot of wartime fiction lately and just wanted a bit of a break from the genre, I picked up Resistance Book 1 Liberty a bit later than planned as my review date was looming. However I soon found it impossible to put down as I was totally gripped, resenting normal life as that snatched me away from this great novel. I don’t want to sound cliché but Resistance Book 1 Liberty is a true page turner!
Portraying how the French Resistance was formed in the Dordogne country villages, it is a powerful story of how the war divided families and communities set against a backdrop of oppression, fear and the rise of a gorilla movement. Eilidh McGinness skilfully writes in a simple, rustic manner, enhancing the tension throughout the narrative. The clear, concise style also symbolises the simple, rustic nature of the countryside community that was ravaged by the Nazi occupation:
Superficially, people watched as they’d always done, but now this was not innocent curiosity. Today, watching had a purpose. Everyone watched. The observation that a neighbour was buying more food than you might expect could indicate they were hiding someone…maybe a Jew…Members of the Resistance, too, watched. For any sign of betrayal. Those who just wanted to see out the war as quietly and safely as possible watched for any sign of trouble…The war had robbed the village of its heart. The desire to survive had robbed them all of their humanity.
Resistance Book 1 Liberty is also a touching love story as it is the story of Sabine, a young farm girl who falls for Hérisson, a communist desperate to save France from the clutches of the Nazis. I adored Sabine as a character, finding myself really drawn to her. I also emotionally felt her plight as she increasingly gets more frustrated and ashamed of her family’s views towards the occupation. In a sense Sabine’s story is tragic, but it is also empowering as this novel in my view is Sabine’s coming of age story.
It is also Hérisson coming of age story, especially as he is a naïve idealist when the novel opens. Through Hérisson’s relationships with with his fellow Resistance members and Loup, his childhood friend, we the readers are privy to some uncomfortable values and beliefs that some people during that time must have felt.
This novel is Sabine and Hérisson’s story, yet at its core is the story of a community ripped apart by the fear and distrust that comes from war. This is what is truly heart wrenching about this novel. It is so subtle but so powerful. Although Eilidh McGinness is originally from the Scottish Highlands, she writes with such an authentic voice, I could genuinely believe she comes from a French background.
The principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are the themes that run throughout this poignant novel. They are also the principles that were ‘fought for and won when the peasants of France had risen and rebelled against a repressive aristocracy.‘ Subsequently they were ‘written into the French Constitution to protect those who came afterwards.’ The theme of these principles I imagine run throughout the whole trilogy, especially as the second book in the series is titled Resistance Book 2 Equality. By the way, I have already bought the second book in the series as I am desperate to find out how the story continues. Sadly I will have to wait to read the third book in the trilogy as that is not released until November 2022.
Thank you to Eilidh McGinness for such a captivating, unique read which I raced through. Thank you also to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to the blog tour of Resistance Book 1 Liberty. To read the reviews from my fellow book bloggers also on the tour, please see below.