Sunday, August 8, 2021

Review: Sisters of the Resistance by Christine Wells

by Christine Wells
Release Date: June 8, 2021
2021 William Morrow Paperbacks
Kindle Edition; 416 Pages
ISBN: 978-0063055445
ASIN: B08K91S244
Audiobook: B08P2DVLLG
Genre: Fiction / Historical / WWII
Source: Review copy from publisher
3.75 / 5
France, 1944: The Nazis still occupy Paris, and twenty-five-year-old Gabby Foucher hates these enemies, though, as the concierge of ten rue Royale, she makes it a point to avoid trouble, unlike her sister Yvette. Until she, like her sister, is recruited into the Resistance by Catherine Dior—sister of the fashion designer, Christian Dior.

Gabby and Yvette are both swept into the world of spies, fugitives, and Resistance workers, and it doesn't take long for the sisters to realize that their lives are in danger.
My Thoughts
Sisters of the Resistance intrigued me as I was interested in reading more about Catherine Dior and the spy network she ran during WWII.  While I know there is not a lot of information about her activities, or at least any information that is available to the public, this is a fiction novel and it sounded like the author has created a story about her life, her arrest, her time in the camps, and what happened afterwards, all based on the information that is available.  However, that is not what this novel is all about. I have a huge problem with marketing techniques that lure you in thinking the novel is going to be about one thing and then you discover that person is only a secondary character which actually puts me right off.  I've been seeing this more and more lately, especially in WWII fiction, and I am at the point where I would prefer to read non-fiction as at least I know what I am getting into.
The author usually doesn't have control over marketing tactics, so once I realized Catherine Dior played only a minor role, I actually did enjoy the novel.  Yvette and Gabby were interesting characters and I thought they developed quite a bit throughout the story.  Yvette is the one who drove me crazy at first as her actions put so many people in jeopardy through her naivety and her thoughtlessness.  She just couldn't seem to understand that ignoring people's advice put a lot more than just herself in danger and I just wanted to smack her sometimes.  And I just couldn't understand why Yvette would not read letters from home? Especially when you learn the reason for why she had to leave home. Didn't make sense. Gabby was much more level-headed, although I will admit I am not sure of her motivations as I don't think the author was very clear about that and maybe could have developed that a bit more.  She was milder, always putting others before her own needs and I loved seeing her grow into someone who took control of her life and realized she had needs that were just as important as everyone else's.  The interactions between the two sisters was intriguing as well, especially during times of stress and danger.  I would have loved to learn more about their mother though as I felt she just got shunted into the background, but as we learn, Maman knew about everything that was going on so I wanted to know how and when she found out.

The story was told through both Yvette and Gabby's viewpoints, and through two timelines, 1944 and 1947. I found the shift between characters and timelines was pretty good, although I preferred the 1947 one better simply because so many books don't deal with the aftermath as much. And while this one dealt with Yvette's return to France and huge sensational trial, I still don't think it went deeply enough into how troubled things were in France during the years after the war and how much people still struggled to deal with the knowledge of the camps, the betrayals, the shortage of food, and so much more.  There was a mention of the world entering the Cold War which I did appreciate, and how things were going to get dicey and much more difficult, but in a different way.  And I really liked how Yvette was going to play a role in that new warfare; it almost seemed like there might be another book coming. 

The writing style was good and the author really tried to show how tenacious and strong people had to be during this time period.  One didn't know whom to trust, whom to depend on, and the wrong word to the wrong person could land you in a prison being tortured for weeks on end.  The level of fear was palpable and I liked how the author showed how resilient the characters could be during these tough times, doing whatever they could to resist in their own unique ways.  I did feel like Yvette's story line was stronger though, and wished that the book had been developed around her; her story line was just so much more interesting.

Sisters of the Resistance was an interesting story about two sisters who took two different paths to resistance during WWII. I did think Yvette's story line was the stronger of the two and wished the book had been written about her.  I also thought the marketing was misleading as Catherine Dior was a secondary character and although we learn about her fate, that's all we really learn.  I did think building a novel around the fashion industry was fascinating and I liked learning how the fashion greats kept their business in Paris during this time period.  Overall, I did enjoy the book, and I look forward to seeing what it coming next from this author.