This novel tells the story of the occupation of Guernsey by the Nazis during the Second World War.
It’s an intensely personal account written mainly from the point of view of the central protagonist Lydia Le Page, who returns to her island home just in time to watch enemy planes bombing the docks and causing death and destruction.
Lydia’s own family home is requisitioned by the Nazi commandant and she vows to oppose the Nazis in any way she can, delivering secretly-produced news-sheets to the islanders, and finally joining the resistance as an undercover agent whose task is to get information from the commandant, even though she knows she might be accused of being a collaborator by the people she has known all her life.
Lydia’s growing affection for Martin, the somewhat unconventional priest who recruits her into the resistance, threatens to take over her heart and mind. But Martin is a troubled soul whose motives are often unclear, and Lydia doesn’t always know if she should trust him. What happened to his fiancée, why is he here in Guernsey anyway, and might he even be a double agent, intent on betraying the whole resistance set-up to the Nazis?
This is a tense and exciting novel, reminding us that in times of crisis the real heroes and heroines are those who put their fellow human beings before their own self-interest. The occupation of Guernsey must have been a terrible time for the islanders, abandoned by the British, often hungry or even starving, not knowing how the war would end, and sometimes wondering if collaboration with the Nazis might be the only way to survive.
As we know, the Allies did win the war, but in the early 1940s it looked as if they would be defeated and Germany would attain mastery of Europe. So Lydia’s heroism is all the more admirable. She did what she thought was right, and I loved her to bits. I don’t think I would have been anything like as brave.
This is an engrossing read.