Through letters with a famous author, one French librarian tells her love story and describes the brutal Nazi occupation of her small coastal village.
Saint-Malo, France: August 1938. Jocelyn and Antoine are childhood sweethearts, but just after they marry and are hoping for a child, Antoine is called up to fight against Germany. As the war rages, Jocelyn focuses on comforting and encouraging the local population by recommending books from her beloved library in Saint-Malo. She herself finds hope in her letters to a famous author.
After the French capitulation, the Nazis occupy the town and turn it into a fortress to control the north of French Brittany. Residents try passive resistance, but the German commander ruthlessly purges part of the city’s libraries to destroy any potentially subversive writings. At great risk to herself, Jocelyn manages to hide some of the books while waiting to receive news from Antoine, who has been taken to a German prison camp.
What unfolds in her letters is Jocelyn’s description of her mission: to protect the people of Saint-Malo and the books they hold so dear. With prose both sweeping and romantic, Mario Escobar brings to life the occupied city and re-creates the history of those who sacrificed all to care for the people they loved.
MY RATING- ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“𝐌𝐲 𝐠𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐟 𝐛𝐞𝐠𝐚𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐲 𝐚𝐬 𝐦𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬.”
Saint-Malo is a small village in France. It was a heart-wrenching story which revolves around Jocelyn Ferrac who is a librarian in Saint-Malo. She describes various events that took place during WWII in the form of letters to her favourite author. The day she got married to Antoine, the Germans attacked Poland and plunged the world into a merciless war. The characters in the story felt so real and I could feel as if all the characters are a part of my life. After their marriage, Jocelyn comes to know that she has tuberculosis and due to war, Antoine is called up to go for the war.
“𝐌𝐲 𝐡𝐨𝐩𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐡𝐮𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐬𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲, 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐛𝐚𝐫𝐛𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐦 𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐲 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞: 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐬, 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞, 𝐚𝐧𝐝, 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐦𝐚𝐲 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐦𝐞 𝐜𝐫𝐚𝐳𝐲, 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐞𝐬. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞’𝐬 𝐧𝐨 𝐝𝐨𝐮𝐛𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝, 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐜𝐮𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐝.”
I could relate with Jocelyn to a great extent because she stood strong throughout the novel. Her husband, Antoine ws called up to fight but she was no less because when Germans were destroying French literature completely while on the other hand we have Jocelyn who tries her level best to preserve the French literature. She is one of those strong female protagonists who will never give up.
I was never into historical fiction but recently I have fallen in love with historical fiction and I would love to read more books from this genre. It took me a couple of days to finish this book and without any doubt this is one of the best books set during the time of WWII. It was definitely a thought provoking novel and I highly recommend this.