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The Englishman's Daughter: A True Story of Love and Betrayal in World War I

por Ben Macintyre

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1744156,365 (3.47)17
In a story of courage in the face of war and oppression, the author revisits the village in northern France that protected British soldiers caught behind the lines of the German invasion forces.
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More than anything, one needs to remember this is a true story and true stories have loose ends. It is impressive to realize that this small town in France hid several Allied soldiers from the Germans that were controlling the region. And they did it for years. When looking up the French town on the Internet, this 'story' immediately pops up. People (apparently) continue to travel to this area and visit the sites that are relevant to this story.
The author flushes out the characters well, while also explaining the background of the region that has seen so much fighting and frankly will again in WWII. It was a quick read, just a matter of days- it held my interest that well. But I was left with more questions than answers, and surprisingly this has pointed me to other WWI 'stories' to investigate and read! ( )
  dichosa | Mar 4, 2014 |
This book is ostensibly the story of an English soldier who falls in love with a French villager in German-occupied France. But it's really an account of life under the draconian regulations of a paranoid and controlling German army major in northern France.

If you're looking for a detailed wartime love story, you're not really going to find it here. The author does a great job in his research but is limited by the fact that the eyewitnesses to (and subjects of) the love story have long since passed away. Since the English soldier (Robert Digby) was masquerading as a French peasant, he was in close proximity to his girlfriend (Claire Dessenne), so there wasn't a need for them to write letters to one another, and thus we don't really have too much in the way of firsthand accounts of their limited time together.

But this book is a great account of civilian life in Villeret (which was not far from the front). My knowledge of WWI was (and is) very limited, so I found the French interactions with the German occupiers to be very interesting and surprising. I was initially surprised by the lack of overt resistance to the wholesale invasion of the civilians' homes, and then surprised by the fact that the French came to tolerate, if not like, many of the German soldiers who had taken over their village.

I gave this book four stars for two reasons: First, it starts a little slowly. It takes awhile to get the lay of the land (literally -- you will definitely find the map at the beginning of the book helpful) and isn't all that riveting in the beginning. And second (spoiler alert), the lack of a definite conclusion was a little disappointing. This isn't the author's fault, and he does his best to determine, using 80-year-old evidence, to find out who the traitors are, but it's nonetheless a little unsatisfying. Still, this is overall an interesting and informative read. ( )
  slug9000 | Mar 12, 2013 |
3728. The Englishman's Daughter: A True Story of Love and Betrayal in World War I, by Ben Macintyre (read 9 Apr 2003) This is an interesting account of an English soldier hidden for months behind German lines in France in the first World War, who fathers a child with his French girlfriend. It makes an interesting story and sheds light on life in a French village occupied by Germans in that war. I found this book of fascination (I find it hard not to read anything I see about World War One) and worth reading. ( )
  Schmerguls | Nov 15, 2007 |
WWI story ( )
  IraSchor | Apr 5, 2007 |
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In a story of courage in the face of war and oppression, the author revisits the village in northern France that protected British soldiers caught behind the lines of the German invasion forces.

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