News of Our Loved Ones by Abigail DeWitt

 

9780062834720_95aecOriginally published in Library Journal, August 31, 2018.

Set in the French village of Caen, Normandy during the Nazi occupation of 1944, the lives of one family and their Jewish neighbors are forever altered. Told in varying points of view and switching between past and present, it is at times difficult to determine the narrator or the time period. The war weaved together the lives of the many characters in oftentimes heartbreaking, unforgettable ways. Many lost their children and loved ones, their identities, and even the will to carry on. Central to the story are young sisters: Yvonne, Francoise, and Genevieve, children of Pauline. Genevieve is living in Paris with Pauline’s sister, Tante Chouchotte, studying violin when her family home is bombed, and only Francoise and her step-father, Oncle Henri survive. Decades later, Polly, the young daughter of Genevieve, half French, but living in America, struggles to balance two cultures and longs to know more about her French family history. Through storytelling and spending time in Brittany, she is able to better understand and appreciate her ancestry. Readers also uncover the secret, passionate love lives of both Pauline and Chouchotte. VERDICT: Recommended for additional purpose to increase a historical fiction collection, DeWitt’s third novel is far surpassed by others in the genre.

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