Review: Wolfsangel

Posted 7 March, 2016 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

By: Liza Perrat
Format/Source: eBook courtesy of the author via book giveaway contest held on Twitter by France Book Tours

Seven decades after German troops march into her village, Céleste Roussel is still unable to assuage her guilt.

1943. German soldiers occupy provincial Lucie-sur-Vionne, and as the villagers pursue treacherous schemes to deceive and swindle the enemy, Céleste embarks on her own perilous mission as her passion for a Reich officer flourishes.

When her loved ones are deported to concentration camps, Céleste is drawn into the vortex of this monumental conflict, and the adventure and danger of French Resistance collaboration.

As she confronts the harrowing truths of the Second World War’s darkest years, Céleste is forced to choose: pursue her love for the German officer, or answer General de Gaulle’s call to fight for France.

Her fate suspended on the fraying thread of her will, Celeste gains strength from the angel talisman bequeathed to her through her lineage of healer kinswomen. But the decision she makes will shadow the remainder of her days.

A woman’s unforgettable journey to help liberate Occupied France, Wolfsangel is a stirring portrayal of the courage and resilience of the human mind, body and spirit.

I received a copy of this novel through France Book Tours in…I want to say 2013…when the BT group was celebrating its first anniversary. It was a pleasant surprise winning the book giveaway contest as I had seen the book around but was not able to take part in the book tour. However I didn’t get around to picking it up until late last year.

Wolfsangel was an interesting novel, focusing on the life of French citizens living in a small village during the Second World War. The war really comes to the fore for them when a German unit appears and billets in their town, rounding up Jewish citizens and causing all sorts of trouble. Celeste, a young and bright woman determined to make her way in the world, wants to get involved in the French Resistance but encounters a lot of opposition because she is a woman and her brother and mother doesn’t want her involved. It’s complicated, but it’s interesting to read because the dangers she faces in many ways are similar to any one else involved. It’s also complicated because everyone is affected, family members are implicated, decisions have to be made to save people, protect people, etc. Celeste has a lot on her plate to deal with, it was actually a little exhausting at times following her as she dealt with the uncertainty of what happened to her brother and loved ones to her work in the Resistance. There was however one plot development that left me a bit wary though; I suppose the early half of the novel was hinting towards it but it was horrific to read it.

I can’t say I warmed to the character of Celeste. I sympathise and can relate with her in a sense of what she wants initially out of her life, and it was encouraging to read as she never backed down and strove to play her part in the Second World War. But I’m not sure if I didn’t warm to her character because I already knew from the first chapter that there were going to be some hard decisions made or because of her own sense of cautiousness with the times. I had an inkling what it was that set her mother to be so hard, but unlike Celeste I never softened to her character after the reveal and the part she had played to date. Other characters coming in and out were interesting but also revealed the various ways in which citizens played a role during the war, whether in the Resistance or the response to those fraternising with the enemy, etc.

I really felt bad for Martin Diehl, the reluctant German soldier. He’s a romantic, he didn’t want to fight in this war or be part of any Occupation or represent the Third Reich but there he was, falling in love with a French girl, making the best of the situation. And I understand why Celeste was how she was in reaction to Martin’s gestures, with so many things at stake, but the poor guy was really out of place and had good intentions. So naturally I felt rather dissatisfied at the way things turned out; I saw the plot resolution from the moment he was introduced, but still, I felt bad. It didn’t help that things developed rather quickly, hence why half the time I wasn’t really feeling the relationship, but strangely enough I had a feeling from the get-go that he was pretty genuine about his feelings for her.

Now that I think about it, the sudden development with Oliver seemed tacked on as well, despite of the one or two hints earlier on. Again, granted they all went through a lot and there was a massive surge of weddings after the war, but it didn’t feel satisfying as a reading experience. I think I would’ve done without the romances overall (*le gasp* I rarely say this).

Wolfsangel from the perspective of the French Resistance’s role during the Second World War in Occupied Frnace made for an interesting read. The novel itself was quite accessible, with fairly regular breaks to keep the pace and the tension going. The character arcs were all right but not as satisfying or fleshed out in some cases as they could be. Nonetheless, readers of historical fiction may want to check this book out, especially if they’re into books set in France and during the Second World War.

Many thanks again to Liza Perrat for the copy of the novel & France Book Tours for hosting the giveaway!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Visit the author’s official website || Order this book from the Book Depository

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2 Responses to “Review: Wolfsangel”

  1. This reminded me that recently (well, maybe a few months ago) people were complaining about fiction between citizens of occupied territories and Nazi soldiers. I, personally, don’t taint the entire German army during WWII with the same brush – not all of them *wanted* to be there. I mean…what would you do? Serve your government or face death if you didn’t? There were others that plotted against those in control (though majorly failed at doing anything).

    I don’t understand why people can’t see Nazis as humans too? I’m not sympathising with them (the Nazis did awful, horrific things), but I’m just saying they weren’t all unfeeling robots and don’t understand the backlash against stories like this. Because there *were* relationships between people and soldiers on both sides; that’s war for you. And not everyone believed in what they were fighting for (or who they were fighting for).

    And I find it quite baffling that we’re happy to rage on the Germans for all time, when the Russians (who were on ‘our’ side) did awful under Stalin, but it’s acceptable because we were allies? Pffft. And then there’s America and their bomb. Ugh.

    Sorry, that was a bit of a rant lol

    I’m sorry this book wasn’t a great one, it sounds like there was a bit of disconnect there :/

    • lol no worries about the rant. Sweeping generalisations definitely lead to ignoring facts such as that many did not agree with the rhetoric their regimes were propagating or were forced to fight or face death and/or imprisonment. Have you read Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin (or its alternative title Every Man Dies Alone or something along those lines)? I think it has a movie adaptation in post-production (thought I saw some news on it the other day) but it’s an interesting first-hand look at what everyday Germans faced living under Nazi Germany (and the couple that started a quiet resistance against its propaganda).

      Yeah, unfortunately the characters didn’t really resonate with me but the story kept me going, so that was something.

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