Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m sharing a book by one of my favorite historical fiction authors, Paulette Mahurin. This is her newest release I was thrilled to be able to obtain a copy from Netgalley – The Peaceful Village. Based on a heartwrenchingly true story about one of the biggest WWII massacres on French Soil that occurred because of a lie.
During the German occupation of France, nestled in the lush, verdant countryside in the Haute-Vienne department of central France was the peaceful village of Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a community where villagers woke to the medley of nature’s songs: roosters crowing, birds chirping, cats purring, and cows shuffling out to pasture. The people who lived there loved the tranquil nature of their beautiful home, a tranquility that existed year-round. Even with the German occupation and Oradour-sur-Glane being incorporated as part of Vichy France, Oradour – the village with cafés, shops, and a commuter tram to Limoges – remained relatively untouched by the stress of the occupation.
While Oradour enjoyed the lack of German presence, twenty-two kilometers to the northwest in Limoges, the Germans were reacting with increasing cruelty to organized attacks on their soldiers by the armed resistance organization Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP). Headed by Georges Guingouin, the Limoges FTP was considered the most effective of the French Resistance groups. Guingouin’s missions fueled the German military to kill and incarcerate in concentration camps anyone perceived as supporters or sympathizers of the Resistance.
Up until the middle of 1944, the German anti-partisan actions in France never rose to the level of brutality or number of civilian casualties that had occurred in eastern Europe. A little before the Allies landed in Normandy, that changed, when German officers stationed on the Eastern Front were transferred to France. It was then that FTP’s increasing efforts to disrupt German communications and supply lines was met with disproportionate counter attacks, involving civilians. Guingouin’s response was to target German officers. When Guingouin set his sights on two particular German officers, all hell broke loose.
Based on actual events as told by survivors, The Peaceful Village is the story of the unfolding of the events that led up to one of the biggest World War II massacres on French soil. But it is not simply a story of Nazi brutality and the futility of war, it is a story of love. The love of family. The love of neighbor. The love of country. Compassion and courage burn from the pages as the villagers’ stories come alive. Written by the international bestselling author of The Seven Year Dress, Paulette Mahurin, this book is an homage to the villagers who lived and loved in Oradour-sur-Glane.
My 5 Star Review:
Marguerite lives on her carrot farm with her husband and other family in the beautiful, peaceful village of Oradour, France. During WWII, this quiet and peaceful village had not yet been threatened or occupied as much as other parts of France and Europe by the nazis, despite the Vichy accepting German rule, until a German capture that had gone wrong had brought forth the brutal nazi regime (no, I will NEVER capitalize the word ‘nazi’) to this peaceful ‘untouched’ by war, town, just before the allies landed in Normandy.
As Marguerite was approaching menopause, the gruel of farming without enough hands was getting to her physically and mentally. She went to church one Sunday and discovered the clergy could use some well needed office help and approached her understanding husband asking for time away from working the farm and by taking up the offer to work for the church office. When she discovered a horrifying piece of paper in a book, as she was tidying the rectory, she approached Father Chapelle, asking if anyone else shared the office, ultimately, showing him what she’d found in a book as she was organizing a bookshelf. Their eye contact established a mutual understanding that they were both on the side against the nazis, when the Father let her know that he was part of the resistance helping place Jewish families where he could. Marguerite’s sympathetic and good nature led her to helping out the church by delivering secret messages, food and clothing where she could.
All was calm, but Marguerite had a foreboding feeling in her stomach, and it wasn’t long before the SS butchers rounded up the whole village in retaliation for the resistance killing one of their higher up murderous high rank nazi leaders. It was first the resistance who made a fatal mistake by letting another of their captured nazis escape, who made it back to headquarters and lied about what happened to him in this innocent village.
Mahurin tells a gripping story in such detail, it’s as though we are there witnessing the action. She paints a picture of this blissful town full of compassionate, loving, neighborly people going on with their business as though the rest of France had nothing to do with them in their sacred untouched perimeters, and just as the serenity turns to hell on earth, she equally writes of the pain, brutality, butchering of innocent mankind because of one SS trying to cover his ass by lying about his attack saying it had taken place in Oradour – when it did not! This lie became the war that wiped out an entire peaceful village in one day.
Based on true events as told by survivors, one of biggest WWII massacres that ever took place on French soil. The expensive price of human life paid for letting one of those heinous, murderous nazis escape capture. The author never disappoints in her gripping true tales of some of the true horrors that innocent people endured under the brutal tyranny of Hitler and his nazi evil regime.