This week a novel that lays bare the horrors of war in an occupied country and the strength of a people to resist. Where Irises Never Grow by Paulette Mahurin
About the book
With courage, depth, and passionate insight, bestselling author Paulette Mahurin captures the horrors of the German occupation of France. Where Irises Never Grow tells the story of how one book that escaped Nazi confiscation moved through time holding a cryptic note.
Unraveling its mystery brings the reader to Lyon, France. It is there war, in all its bloodstained pathos, is witnessed through the escalating cruelty of the Vichy regime. Particularly impacted is the Legrand family. Thrown into a whirlwind of turmoil they struggle to help the Resistance while maintaining deceitful relations with the government. As the Nazis move toward occupying southern France, the duplicity unravels along with all the Legrands are protecting.
Their struggle is raw. Uplifting. Nothing is held back in depicting the horrors inflicted on innocent people by the corrupt tyrannical despots. But this is more than a story of war. It is a story of friendship and loyalty. Of love and sacrifices. And choices for ultimately it is a story that shines a light on the fundamental urge by decent human beings to do right by another, to stand tall no matter the risk when millions stood silent. Where Irises Never Grow will linger in the readers gut and mind long after the last page is finished.
My review for the book 13th March 2021
What begins as a search for a first edition of Aesop’s Fables and the discovery of a scrap of paper with two names, turns into a story that is both haunting and unforgettable.
This novel is one that brings to life a time, still within living memory, that demonstrated how thin the veneer of civilisation really is. All it takes is a cadre of evil men, led by a man without humanity, to perpetrate one of the worst atrocities in modern history.This carefully and well researched story, based on actual reports by survivors and historians of the time, spotlights the best and the worst traits of mankind.
Set in Vichy France where pro-Nazi leaders began to systematically remove their own citizens from the population at the behest of the occupiers, a resistance movement grows as defiant men and women took a stand against the tyranny. Putting their own lives at risk and those of their close family and friends to save those among them who follow a religion that is being demonised. .
The author captures and brings the horrifying events of those few years in the early 1940s into stark reality. Isolated and hunted by packs of men and dogs, Jewish families and captured resistance fighters faced the horror of the basement in a previously luxury hotel at the hands of a monster. Those who did not fall into the hands of the Gestapo lived in fear of being discovered, wondering what the next bang on the door would bring.
The characters are vividly portrayed and the reader becomes engaged and emotionally invested in their plight and fight for survival. The author keeps up the pace of this desperate race against time, and despite the dreadful consequences of a careless whisper or action, there are still moments of humanity and the power of love in sustaining the human spirit.
I give the book five stars unreservedly, but I do understand that it might not be a book that everyone feels they can read. This is about the past, and today enemies have become allies. And even in that time of desperation, there were elements within the occupying army who were sympathetic and compelled to pass along information to the resistance that saved lives. There are few left alive who perpetrated this particular atrocity, but even today there are still millions who live in fear and seek to escape persecution in other parts of the world.
The truth is hard to face, and there are certainly more than a handful of people who voice their disbelief that the holocaust took place. This book based on actual accounts of the time, leaves the reader in no doubt about its truth. And part of that truth is that very few of our own countries can take the moral high ground with regard to religious persecution over the centuries and even today. This book reinforces the need for responsible nations to stand up for those who cannot defend themselves.
At its heart, this novel is also about remembrance, and a tribute to the millions who lost their lives along with the thousands of men and women who saved as many as they could, at the expense of their own survival. They should always be remembered. Recommended.
A selection of other books by Paulette Mahurin
Profits from Pauline’s books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.
Paulette Mahurin is an international best selling literary fiction and historical fiction novelist. She lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science.
Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her second novel, His Name Was Ben, originally written as an award winning short story while she was in college and later expanded into a novel, rose to bestseller lists its second week out. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015. Her fourth book, The Seven Year Dress, made it to the bestseller lists for literary fiction and historical fiction on Amazon U.S., Amazon U.K. and Amazon Australia. Her fifth book, The Day I Saw The Hummingbird, was released in 2017 to rave reviews. Her sixth book, A Different Kind of Angel, was released in the summer of 2018 also to rave reviews.
Semi-retired, she continues to work part-time as a Nurse Practitioner in Ventura County. When she’s not writing, she does pro-bono consultation work with women with cancer, works in the Westminster Free Clinic as a volunteer provider, volunteers as a mediator in the Ventura County Courthouse for small claims cases, and involves herself, along with her husband, in dog rescue. Profits from her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.
I hope you have enjoyed my review of Pauline’s book and will explore this and her other books in more detail.. thanks Sally.