She changed her identity and entered Nazi-occupied France to join the French Resistance in the summer of 1943, seeking only a worthy death in the service of a noble cause. She did not expect that her quest for death would, in the end, teach her how to live.
Below is a sample of this book:
The girl sitting at the corner table in the café was not attracting much attention. She was not that sort of girl, and that day she was glad of it. The gendarmes were looking for that sort of girl.
“Built for espionage.” That was what they had called her, back in London. She was a bit of nothing, a wisp of brown hair, a shy smile, and underneath it all a will of iron.
The gendarmes were passing back and forth among the tables, checking papers. She laid hers on the table in front of her without hesitation and smiled politely as they were examined, though she kept her gaze fixed on their coat buttons and never raised it to their faces.
“Never look them in the eyes,” Mr. Finch had told her before she left. “The rest of you is plain and demure enough, but there’s something in those eyes of yours which can convince a man in the most irritating way that he will not win any argument with you. And men don’t like losing, particularly Nazis.”
Mr. Finch had spoken from experience. In response she had just smiled her slow, shy smile and thought how strange it was that the quiet obscurity she had despised in herself for so long should now be considered her most valuable asset by Mr. Finch and the Special Operations Executive, if by no one else.
“Merci, Mademoiselle Severin.” The gendarme relinquished her papers with a slight bow. She nodded briefly and returned them to the pocket of her grey jacket, feeling underneath the lining as she did so to make sure the other paper was still there.
The gendarmes had finished inspecting papers and, their duty done for the moment, settled in at the bar to order coffee and converse in low tones. The actual words of their conversation were inaudible to the girl, but it was clear that they had not found what they were looking for.
Nor will they, she thought. Not today.
She finished her coffee and croissant unhurriedly, then stood, brushed a few crumbs off her skirt, adjusted the little red scarf she wore around her neck, nodded to the proprietor with a distant smile, and walked out into the street.
The sun was shining on the cobblestones, and the girl known as Marie Severin blinked in the sudden brightness after the comparatively dim light of the café. From where she stood the town looked tranquil and quiet, a model French village, giving no sign of the dangerous secrets it harboured.
Violet Shadows by Melanie Rose – $3.99