My review today is for Something Old, Something New , an historical novel by local author James Vance. This book is partially set in Oradour-sur-Glane in the Limousin, where on 10th June 1944 the German soldiers of the SS Panzer Division Das Reich rounded up the men, women and children and massacred them all before ransacking and burning the village. No explanation was ever given as to why. The ruins have been left as a memorial that we have visited and is a very emotional place. Despite this horrific event I was quite excited to find a book using local history as its backdrop.
In the 1990’s sisters Elodie and Monique open an old trunk in their parent's attic in an attempt to find ‘something old’ from their Grandmother's belongings for Monique’s wedding. Their family, like many others, was touched by events during the war, but a very deep secret lies buried in the mementos and they have no idea of the pain they will eventually cause when they start the rummage that leads them to investigate more about their family’s unknown history.
The German Occupation of France is not an easy topic to read about, but James’ careful story telling and the use of different voices from different generations meant a fascinating tale that twisted and turned and added flesh to history. I’m no expert, but have read a few books on the subject and this book seemed to be very well researched. The many voices to this story all had their own motives for their actions, but together they became a pot ready to boil over and when it did things would never be the same again.
This book is also part love story; it has characters that see people for who they are inside and others who are prejudiced by what is represented outside, some are able to forgive, some are not. It certainly made me think as I was reading it and was a real page turner, with every chapter adding a little bit to the intriguing plot but always leaving me wanting more.
Something Old, Something New is available in ebook and paperback, and other books by James are also available, links to Amazon are below. I would like to thank James for contacting me and offering me a copy to review. You can find out more about James on his website here and follow him on Twitter.