Her Darkest Hour by Sharon Maas
English | 2020 | Historical Fiction | ePUB | 3.6 MB
Sharon Maas is the author of eight novels. She lived in Germany for 43 years and moved to Ireland in 2018.
In the small French town of Colmar, swastikas hang from lampposts, tanks are lined up outside the town hall, and fifteen-year-old Victoire dreams of adventure. She is desperate to defeat the Germans but is dismissed as too young to help. But her family has always fought to do the right thing, and when a desperate mother and child seek refuge, Victoire doesn’t hesitate to hide them in the family wine cellar.
Her sister Marie Claire is unaware of Victoire’s actions. Rejected by her childhood sweetheart, Marie Claire has turned her back on those she loves. She is catapulted into a new and frightening life, seduced by the power the Germans can offer, forcing Victoire to cut all ties with her sister.
But when Victoire learns someone she loves is in terrible danger, her only choice is to trust the sister who betrayed her. Marie Claire’s cruel and heartless husband has key information and Victoire must persuade Marie Claire to obtain it, even if it means risking Marie Claire’s life. As secrets come to light and close bonds are broken, will the sisters be able to heal old wounds?
An unforgettable and unputdownable story of two sisters ripped apart by World War 2. Fans of The Nightingale and The Ragged Edge of Night will fall in love with Her Darkest Hour.
Juliette and her grandmother enjoyed an unusually close relationship. When Juliette’s mother died in childbirth it had been Hélène who had dropped everything and rushed, husband in tow, to her son’s cottage nestled within the hillside vineyards near Ribeauvillé to take over the care of the baby. When Juliette came of school age, the three of them moved back to the family home in Colmar, this very house in which Hélène herself had grown up, leaving Juliette’s older brother, Jacques, with his father, the winemaker Maxence Dolch.
Thus, the Dolch family was split into two branches: Juliette and her grandparents, Jacques and Maxence, with Juliette flitting between the two, spending all her holidays with her father and term-time with her grandparents. She might call Hélène Grandma, but for all practical purposes she was a mother, a real mother. Grandpa had died two years previously, in 1938, and now it was just the two of them. With Juliette growing into maturity, her role was changing, and more and more her responsibility for her grandmother’s well-being came into focus. Grandma may have managed well on her own in this rather grand Colmar house, but now, with Nazis swarming through the town, it was unthinkable.
As soon as she had bathed, dressed and had her morning coffee, Juliette emerged into the street, identification documents tucked into the pocket of her jacket. The post office was a fifteen-minute walk away; it necessitated passing the town hall. It was now mid-morning, but already its façade had changed. Huge long banners hung from the upstairs window of the building: a black swastika on a white circle against a red background. Three jeeps were parked outside the building, all with swastika signs pasted onto the doors. Soldiers, proudly bearing swastika armbands, marched briskly in and out of the main entrance. Already they owned the place. Soldiers everywhere in the town square, pasting swastika posters to lamp posts.
She stopped and stared. Marie-Claire worked here, at the Mairie. Marie-Claire, the daughter of her father’s employer, Margaux Gauthier-Laroche. She and Jacques had grown up with the Gauthier children; Marie-Claire, and even more so Victoire, the youngest, were as sisters to her.
Bile rose in her throat. Where was Marie-Claire? Was she safe? And the mayor, a good friend of her grandmother – where was he? All the Mairie employees? Across the square she spotted Madame Bélanger, another member of Hélène’s wide circle of Colmar friends. She dashed across the square.
‘Bonjour, Madame! How are you?’
‘I am not well, chérie, who could be well on a day like today? This cursed war has finally come to Colmar.’