Friday, December 22, 2023

“In the Shadow of the Pyrenees”
by Kathryn Gauci

In the earlier days of WWII many Jewish people were not able to flee from France before the German occupation began rounding up the Jewish people and sending them to concentration camps. Many of those people just couldn’t believe that France would allow it to happen to them. Some citizens were sent to German work camps, and there were many other  atrocities taking place throughout the countryside. It was a rough time for everyone, not just those who happened to be Jewish.

In this book we followed the lives of some of the people helping those fleeing from this oppression as well as some of the members of the resistance. It was as dangerous for those trying to escape as it was for those trying to help them. In this book the escape routes talked about were very difficult routes going through the mountains and into Spain. Anyone caught was doomed to be tortured as the Nazis sought to find everyone involved in helping those trying to flee, whether they were Jewish or not. And many were either killed right away or were sent to concentration camps and prisons where they often died from disease.

I received a review copy of this book and feel that I should warn you that parts of it were very emotionally intense. That is something that is unavoidable given the time period. It was a dangerous time, and no one was ever entirely safe. My eyes were teary as I read at some points in this book. The story was well written and I enjoyed reading it. Given the time period it takes place in, please be aware that this book does contain some violence. That is unavoidable in a book about WWII.

If you enjoy WWII stories about the people fleeing from the Nazis and the people/networks of people helping them, then you will enjoy this book. It was a fascinating look into why  many chose to help despite the risks to them and their families, as well as what life was like for the average person living in the countryside at the time, whether or not they happened to be among those trying to either flee from the Nazis or helping them to escape. And be sure to read the notes at the end talking about the people and locations that this story was based on. It was as interesting as the rest of the tale.

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