This winter, Harlequin Trade Publishing has a wonderful slate of Historical Fiction. Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Girl From the Channel Islands by Jenny Lecoat.
THE GIRL FROM THE CHANNEL ISLANDS by Jenny Lecoat
Published February 2, 2021 by Graydon House Books
About the Book: An extraordinary story of human triumph against impossible odds
The year is 1940, and the world is torn apart by war. In June of that year, Hitler’s army captures the Channel Islands–the only part of Great Britain to be occupied by German forces. Abandoned by Mr. Churchill, forgotten by the Allies, and cut off from all help, the Islands’ situation is increasingly desperate.
Hedy Bercu is a young Jewish girl who fled Vienna for the island of Jersey two years earlier during the Anschluss, only to find herself trapped by the Nazis once more–this time with no escape. Her only hope is to make herself invaluable to the Germans by working as a translator, hiding in plain sight wIth the help of her friends and community–and a sympathetic German officer. But as the war intensifies, rations dwindle, neighbors turn on neighbors, and Hedy’s life is in greater danger every day. It will take a definitive, daring act to save her from certain deportation to the concentration camps.
A sweeping tale of bravery and love under impossible circumstances, Hedy’s remarkable story reminds us that it’s often up to ordinary people to be quiet heroes in the face of injustice.
5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
First, I have to say that I enjoy historical fiction even more if the story is based on a real person. Hedy Bercu was a young woman who fled to Jersey from Vienna to escape Jewish persecution, arrest and probable death, only to find herself trapped on the island during the German occupation. Because she can speak, read and write both German and English, she was hired to work as a translator for the German authorities. She uses her position to carry out small acts of resistance and becomes a target for arrest. She becomes involved with a German Lieutenant, Kurt Neumann, who hates what the Germans are doing. Kurt worked against the Germans to keep both Hedy and Dorothea alive. Can Hedy, Kurt and her friend Dorothea survive the occupation?
I was aware that the Germans had occupied various channel islands, but this story enlightened me even more about the conditions the people on Jersey dealt with. The Germans had many rules, regulations and punishments. They controlled everything; food, fire wood, clothes, petrol and more. It was difficult for the locals to survive and by the time they were liberated in 1945, many of the people were starving, physically ill and dying. I enjoyed seeing the relationship between Hedy and Dory grow. They were friends because of Anton, Hedy’s friend and Dory’s husband, but they became friends through necessity, and then true friends depending on one another. I also liked how Kurt was portrayed, that not all German soldiers were evil. Many did not want to fight, but they had no choice, and they did not agree with many of the decisions being made that affected the people. As we follow Hedy’s story we go on a heartbreaking journey as Hedy struggles to live each day. This is an emotional and devastating story, but it is also a story full of hope. Not only Hedy, but all the inhabitants of Jersey were determined to survive. They persevered and did what they could to hang on until the allies arrived. Jenny Lecoat has written an excellent historical fiction novel of one aspect of World War II and an actual character that lived through it. I definitely enjoyed this story and recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction, especially WWII. I was gifted a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.
About the Author: Jenny Lecoat was born in Jersey, Channel Islands, where her parents were raised under German Occupation and were involved in resistance activity. Lecoat moved to England at 18, where, after earning a drama degree, she spent a decade on the alternative comedy circuit as a feminist stand-up. She also wrote for newspapers and women’s magazines (Cosmopolitan, Observer), worked as a TV and radio presenter, before focusing on screenwriting from sitcom to sketch shows. A love of history and factual stories and a return to her island roots brought about her feature film Another Mother’s Son (2017). She is married to television writer Gary Lawson and now lives in East Sussex. The Girl from the Channel Islands is her first novel.