Set in 1943, April In Paris is the dramatic story of an impossible love
between a German soldier and a French Resistance fighter in occupied Paris.
Roth, a twenty-one-year-old German soldier, has spent most of his time in occupied Paris working in the army's back offices. But when his superiors learn of his ability to speak accent-free French, he is abruptly transferred to Gestapo headquarters to work as an interpreter during the interrogation of Resistance fighters. Rather than question his role in the Nazi regime, Roth translates with impeccable accuracy as the torture proceeds.
But when his duty ends, Roth slips away from his fellow officers, changes into civilian clothes, and wanders aimlessly through Paris disguised as his alter ego "Antoine." One day he is drawn into an antiquarian bookshop and becomes enchanted with the bookseller's beautiful daughter, Chantal. The two begin to meet and fall in love before Roth has the courage to reveal his true identity, nor to discover Chantal's.
When a bomb placed in a popular nightclub by the Resistance kills several high-ranking German officers, Roth finds himself not in his role as translator but as the suspect of the SS's interrogation.
April in Paris is one of those rare books in which the emotional force of the love story is matched by page-turning suspense. Written in an elegant and arresting style, it is a thrilling novel by a promising new writer, who has brought the reality of a war-torn past very much to the present.
I learned about the transfer before noon. The small stripes of light had
reached the windowsill. My major came in and kept one hand on the doorknob while
gesturing to me with the other to keep my seat. He wanted to know if the hogwash
from Marseille was ready yet. I pointed to the halfwritten sheet still in the
typewriter. I could go when I reached the end of the page, he said.
"And the dispatch from LagnysurMarne?" I asked, surprised.
"Someone else will have to do it. You're needed elsewhere."
I pressed my knees together under the table. In those days, many people were being sent to the front.
"I'm being reassigned?"
"Rue des Saussaies has lost a translator." The major ran his hand down the left side of his uniform coat. German Horseman's Badge, War Merit Cross. He said he'd do all he could to get me back. I shouldn't worry, he said; my transfer would be only temporary.
Life and love are both battlefields in Wallner's anguished debut of wartime suspense, translated from German, which quickly embroils the reader in the tragic double-life of 22-year-old Corporal Roth.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (878 words).
A short history of the French
France capitulated to Germany on June 25 1940 and was divided into three key zones: A German occupation zone in the north and west, a small Italian occupation zone in the southeast and unoccupied collaborationist "Vichy France" in the south (map). The French Army was disbanded except for a small force to keep domestic peace, and the French government agreed to stop members of its armed forces leaving the country and to instruct its citizens not to resist.
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