A pleasure today to be helping launch the blog tour for The Resistance Girl by Jina Bacarr, and sharing my review: published today by Boldwood Books, it’s now available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited), in paperback and as an audiobook. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy (provided via netgalley).
Ten previous novels, and I’ve never read anything by Jina Bacarr before – but the storyline of this one looked right up my street. The second World War, a dual time story, romance, secrets and sacrifice – how could I resist? Let’s take a closer look…
Two women. One heartbreaking secret.
Sylvie Martone is the star of French cinema, and adored by fans. But as Nazi officers swarm the streets of Paris, she is spotted arm in arm with an SS Officer and her fellow Parisians begin to turn against her. However Sylvie has a secret – one she must protect with her life.
Juliana Chastain doesn’t know anything about her family history. While her mother was alive she remained very secretive about her past. So when Juliana discovers a photograph of a glamorous French actress from World War Two amongst her mother’s possessions, she is in shock to find herself looking at her grandmother – especially as she is arm in arm with a Nazi Officer…
Desperate for answers, Juliana is determined to trace the journey of her grandmother. Surely there is more to the photograph than meets the eye? But as she delves into Sylvie’s past, nothing can prepare Juliane for the tales of secrets, betrayal and sacrifice which she will uncover.
A heart-wrenching story of love and war, perfect for fans of Pam Jenoff and Suzanne Goldring.
Goodness, what a story! I did wonder how I hadn’t heard of Sylvie Martone before, even did a bit of a search on Google about her and her films (and her fall from grace), but this is a work of fiction – and hats off to the author for making her feel so very real.
I’m always a pushover for a dual time story, and I particularly liked the way this story was constructed. Juliana finds her grandmother’s photo among her mother’s possessions after her death, and through her cinema world connections uncovers the bare bones of Sylvie’s story – and understands why her mother was always so secretive about her, universally condemned as a Nazi collaborator and now hidden from history. She pursues the truth, convinced that the real story hasn’t been uncovered – and then sets about finding the evidence to restore her actress grandmother’s reputation.
And then there’s Sylvie’s own story, told in the first person – from her convent orphanage childhood when she discovers her dream and love of performing, her rise to film stardom as France’s sweetheart, the difficult times when her life and career goes off the rails, and her choices following the French wartime invasion when she finds that her career provides opportunities to make a real difference. There’s a rather lovely romance in there too – with an English duke, their very different lives seeming to make future happiness quite impossible.
I’ll admit that I did find the story’s pace slowed a little during Sylvie’s difficult middle years – it’s all a bit sad and seedy, and I was quite relieved when it cut away to Juliana’s continuing investigations, and the tentative romance in her own life (phoar, Ridge – he was rather gorgeous!). There were also a few rather far-fetched coincidences that led to the uncovering of some of the evidence along the way – thank goodness for the convent basement, the helpful nun and an errant roller-skate.
But I entirely forgave all that when I raced through the last third of the book, with my heart in my mouth – a compelling story of bravery and courage with a constant edge of danger and threat of discovery. I might have had just a few minor reservations, but it’s a superb story on a cinematic scale, told exceptionally well, with such well-drawn characters and a vivid backdrop both in the pre-war cinema world and through the dark days of the occupation. Nicely done – I enjoyed this one.
About the author
Jina Bacarr is a US-based historical romance author of over 10 previous books. She has been a screenwriter, journalist and news reporter, but now writes full-time and lives in LA. Jina’s novels have been sold in 9 territories.