Darwin’s Pick: The Resistance

The Resistance—Peter Steiner.  Fans of Steiner’s creation, Louis Morgon, a disgraced U.S. State Department employee who abandons his former life to settle in a small French village, will be delighted with this episode of his early residency in the 1970s.  New readers, swiftly filled in on the basic backstory, will be sucked into the events precipitated by a chance discovery in Morgan‘s newly purchased house— hidden under a floor tile, a partisan group’s mimeographed newsletter published during the Nazi occupation.  What ensues is the uncovering of the terrible physical and emotional price paid by the inhabitants of St. Leon during the occupation.  The village was split between collaborators and resisters.  But who were they and what did they do?  Members of both sides, deliberately kept in the dark, were uncertain as to the allegiances of friends and neighbors creating fear, suspicion and resentment.  Morgon prods his new friend Renard, the village policeman (the post held by his father during the occupation), to investigate some murky details of the local occupation.  Who published the newsletters?  Was his father a collaborator or not?  Who was responsible for the massacre of a partisan group?  It’s a difficult and painful task when no one is willing to talk of those times, and crucial witnesses are hard to find.  A very real and exciting evocation of the strains of the occupation on daily life in an otherwise idyllic French village, which led to divisions, mistrusts and hatred that only dies out as the witnesses and participants of that terrible period vanish.

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