I still cannot get The Room on Rue Amelie, by Kristin Harmel, out of my mind. This novel, based on the true story of Virginia d’Albert-Lake, brought the French resistance in World War II to life for me as no book of historical fiction ever has. I felt as if I were right there helping downed pilots escape the Gestapo. This is a love story set against the background of war, but it is so much more.
The Room on Rue Amelie is a story of bravery and extreme risk of torture and execution by civilians fighting the evil of Nazi aggression. It is a story of families ripped apart, and of the mass starvation inflicted as an effort to force an entire country into submission. It is a story of the human spirit trusting God in the fight for good against evil.
In 1939, main character, Ruby Henderson Benoit, moves to Paris with her new husband, Marcel, as war looms. There she meets her new neighbors, a Jewish family, the Dachers. Eleven-year-old Charlotte Dacher is immediately taken with Ruby, and they become close friends. While Ruby teaches English to Charlotte, the Germans and their swastika flags move into the city.
Secretly, Marcel disappears for hours, even days at a time, as he spirits away RAF pilots who have been shot down over France. When Marcel is captured and shot, Ruby takes up his work, but not without gender-biased resistance from those who worked with him. She soon meets RAF pilot, Thomas Clarke. They fall in love and vow to find each other after the war.
Quickly, Jewish restrictions and ration coupons for everyone are followed by mass deportation of Jews. When the Germans come for the Dachers, Charlotte’s parents beg Ruby to hide Charlotte. Soon both Ruby and Charlotte, who is older now, are part of the French resistance. I will not soon forget The Room on Rue Amelie.
What Made this Book Reviewer Grumpy?
Not much, just the usual split infinitives, beginning sentences with conjunctions, but most of all, using “bring” and “brought” when “take” and “took” should have been used.