“Sisters of the Resistance” is an apt title for this historical fiction that’s partly based on real events and real people and in which women are the main characters. What is unusual about how Christine Wells, the author, chooses to share the events is that the story is told in two different timelines, which is not so unusual, but they are only three years apart. We meet Yvette, the main character, in 1947, as she returns to Paris after the war to testify in the trial of a movie star accused of collaboration with the Nazis and treason. She has not been to Paris nor communicated with her mother and sister since she was smuggled out of France in the final days of the war. Then the action changes to 1944, in the final days of the war.
While this three-year time difference seems an odd choice at first, as we continue to read, we realize that it adds to the suspense. We know some things that are going to happen, but not how they happen, and not how the events are going to turn out in the end. Whoever thought of creating the story that way—kudos to that person!
In addition to Yvette, the story is told from her sister Gabby’s point of view. Gabby is the older, more reliable sister, the one who doesn’t act impulsively but rather thinks things through. We learn that while Yvette helps a friend handing out anti-Nazi pamphlets that could get them in trouble, Gabby is determined to last out the war as safely as she can. She does not want to get involved. Their mother has relinquished her job as concierge of the apartment building to Gabby, so Gabby works long hours.
One of the residents in their apartment building is Catherine Dior. When Gabby gets suspicious about a noise in the apartment of a senior resident whom Gabby helps care for, she finds more than she bargained for. But Gabby’s heart is big, and she cannot turn down someone in need—even if it’s dangerous and even if it goes against what she had said. And as we find out, Gabby gets more danger than she expected.
Yvette, too, must use her wits when she agrees to help the Resistance. This intrigue is set in war-time Paris, and we see also how Christian Dior began his fashion empire. There is much that will keep readers interested. In addition to the well-drawn characters, it’s a thrill to vicariously visit the Ritz and a country manor home. The espionage, the questions about who is working for whom, the glamour of the fashion industry (and the parts that are not-so-glamorous), and cruelty of the Nazis, a soupçon of romance, and the story line all work to make this a book that is truly difficult to put down.
For more historical fiction about WWII, read about “The Paris Apartment” by Kelly Bowen, “The Berlin Girl” by Mandy Robotham, “The German Heiress” by Anika Scott, and “The Girl from Berlin” by Ronald Balson.
Please note: This review is based on the final softcover book provided by William Morrow, the publisher, for review purposes.