In Darkness, Look for Stars begins in 1941 with Maggie Brouillard saving the life of RAF officer Alec McLeod after he crashes his plane in war-torn France. We then skip forward to England in 1949 when secretary Harriet Conway arrives at the Brouillard home to work as a secretary. She discovers a family both torn apart and held together by music with no sign of Maggie. Then Alec comes searching for his rescuer…
The narrative is split between the two time periods: we see the events of the war in contrast to the situation afterwards. Cecelia Brouillard, Maggie’s sister hides Maggie’s Jewish lover from the Germans and they fall in love. Emil is captured and Cecelia returns to her family in Paris, pregnant and full of guilt at her betrayal of her sister. Meanwhile in 1949, we see Cecilia as a figure of sadness. She is unable to walk after being shot in the back, refusing to show any love towards her son.
I was completely hooked by the plot. The action sets off straight away and doesn’t lose momentum at any point. The personal tragedy as well as the national horrors are heartbreaking to read, even more so when you understand the factual basis of the Jewish deportations.
The characters are so well developed that I really found myself caring about the outcomes for them. Even Rose and Sebastien, who were not at all likeable, prompted some sympathy at the end of the book as their actions have terrible consequences.
In Darkness, Look For Stars is a beautifully devastating book. Highly emotional and utterly captivating from the first page to the last. The terrible events of the war and its aftermath for the French people whether collaborators or Resistance are evoked with passion and pathos in this story. Yet the hope and lightness of music and love are never far away from the plot and make parts of this book uplifting and joyous.
In Darkness, Look For Stars Book Description:
Paris, 1941: Going against her mother’s orders, spirited Maggie devotes herself to the Resistance. Her life is a whirlwind of forged passports and secret midnight runs, helping Jews escape. Much to her high-society mother’s disproval, she has fallen in love with Emil, a Jewish Resistance fighter who is wanted by the Nazis.
The city is growing more dangerous by the day, with signs proclaiming ‘No Jews’ posted everywhere in the maze-like streets, and people dragged away in handcuffs. The forbidden lovers are forced to say goodbye – Emil going underground to escape capture.
Meanwhile, Maggie’s sister Cecilia is hundreds of miles away, where the realities of war are yet to hit the serenity of the South of France. Innocent and shy Cecilia is shocked to the core when Emil turns up, seeking refuge. Her sheltered life turned upside down, Cecilia is thrown into the world of the Resistance, all the while sending coded letters to her sister, who every day awaits news of her fiancé.
But with the Nazis closing in on them, their lives soon hang in the balance. Both sisters must decide where their loyalties lie – and how far they are willing to go to save themselves, and one another.
An evocative, riveting and stirring tale about the tragic realities of war, the fine line between loyalty and lies, and the power of love, even in the darkest of times. Fans of The Nightingale, The Letter and All The Light We Cannot See will be spellbound by this magnificent historical novel.
Clara Benson is the author of traditional English whodunits and other historical fiction. Over the years she’s lived in London, Milan and Florence, and can still speak a bit of Italian if pressed. Now she lives with her family in the north of England, where she spends her days writing and trying to ignore an ever-lengthening to-do list.
Find her at clarabenson.com, or follow her on Facebook at ClaraBensonBooks.
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