3 out of 4 stars
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VieVie La Fontaine, by Linda Heavner Gerald, is a riveting story built on strong characters and laced with fascinating touches of history.
Mark Lichter is a young college-aged German moving to Paris before the Second World War. His parents, fearing the political future, send their only child to live with family friends Mark does not know. Mark is at first elated to go to Paris where he can practice his art. However, the seriousness of the hatred of both Jews and Germans becomes more apparent the closer war approaches.
Mark moves into the La Fontaine home in Paris. General Louis La Fontaine is a soldier who was highly decorated during WWI. His wife, VieVie, is an attractive, free-spirited woman who embraces life and lives for the day. With the La Fontaines, Mark is protected from racism and is free to paint. He enjoys life with no concerns for the political storm ahead. When war arrives, though, life changes for all of them. Living conditions in France get worse. Food and coal become scarce, and dangers become greater. While Mark tells the story, the reader sees how the resilient VieVie affects the lives of people she never even meets.
I liked the quick pace of the story. The author included historical facts, but those did not slow down the plot. There are very few uses of profanity, and violence and sexual situations are hinted at, not thoroughly described. I like reading books by authors who can let their stories stand on their own without adding unnecessary spectacle.
I didn’t like the poor editing of the book. That was the most disappointing aspect of the whole reading experience. While the plot is well-planned and the characters are well-drawn, some dialogue is clumsy and feels unnatural. The prose is also sometimes monotonous and choppy, which distracts from the fast-moving, interesting plot.
I would rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I would have rated it 4 stars, but the editing was just too sloppy. There are many format errors that are not the fault of the author. For instance, several times in the book paragraphs aren’t indented. At the end of chapter 20, there is a paragraph centered instead of left-justified. I enjoyed the plot and the well-drawn characters, so I do not give this book only 2 stars.
I would recommend this book to readers interested in World War II Europe. The author gives many historical details, including specific dates of wartime events. The characters team up with the French Resistance, and there is compelling information about the harsh treatment of Jews even beyond Nazi involvement. The book would additionally be suitable for people who like a well-crafted read with intriguing characters.
And while VieVie La Fontaine includes war, love, and violence, I wouldn’t recommend this book for people who are looking for heavy romance or gore.
VieVie La Fontaine
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