Monday, August 17, 2015

REVIEW: War on the Margins by Libby Cone

War on the Margins
by Libby Cone

Publisher: Duckworth
Page Count: 249
Release Date: 2010
Format: Hardcover

How got: personal library; gotten via BookMooch

First attention getter: setting


From GoodReads:

Drawn from World War II documents, broadcasts and private letters, this novel tells the story of the deepening horror of the Nazi regime in Jersey and the bravery of those who sought to subvert it.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 3

This book was intriguing from a historical point of view; it explores an area I’ve not seen done much in historical fiction. As the only part of British soil occupied by the Nazis, the Channel Islands give us a microcosm of how occupation might have been if Britain had been taken. The author utilizes first hand sources and empathetic storytelling to give us a window into a dangerous, spellbinding world.

I liked how the author was balanced in her portrayal of the Channel Islanders. Both the collaborators and the resistors were given page time, giving us a view into both sides of the Nazi occupation. The hard reality of war comes to vivid life as well: food shortages, round-ups, life on the run, and the slave labor of the Nazi era. Enough that the reader is sucked in immediately and lives the story along with the characters.

I liked the characters generally, though I felt there was a weird balance of the POVs that did the book a disservice. Marlene and Peter, our two fictional “leads”, are the heart of the book. Through their eyes and hearts, the reader feels like they’re experiencing the story rather than just reading it. They read like two people who get swept up into the epic that is warfare and resistance, tugging the reader along by the heartstrings.

However, there is too much emphasis and page time given to the POVs of our historically real figures like Lucy, Suzanne, and Albert. Lucy and Suzanne play a big part in the story, taking Marlene in and being driving forces behind Resistance. They could be considered leads in the story as well. So their POVs have merit.

However, they take up so much page time, along with other real figures, that Marlene and Peter read as secondary characters at times. Other POVs like Albert and Mary Erica were just superfluous, in my opinion. They were important figures and played a intriguing part in the history of the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands. But for this book, they were extraneous and unneeded. Marlene and Peter’s story got lost in the shuffle of history at times which is a shame.

The author pays attention to her history and research, which is much appreciated by this WWII history buff. I liked her incorporation of first hand sources and POVs of real historical figures. Yet, those very same POVs drown out our fictional figures, which are the heart of the story and how the reader invests themselves into the story (at least for me). So an intriguing read for the history, but needs work for the fictional stuff.

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