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As an aside, unfortunately the movie version of 'The Secret Garden' is no match for the book. It presents a trite and overacted children's piece that isn't suitable for idiots. I wouldn't subject my child to it.
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This book is so well written that it reads like a novel, with suspense building up as you turn each page.
Will the B-17 pilot, Roy Allen, escape from his badly damaged aircraft? Will he be captured by the Germans? Or be rescued by the French Resistance? The French get to him first and he is assigned to a hiding place in a small village. The young teacher, Colette Florin, hides him as they all await liberation by the Allied Armies coming from the Normandy Beaches. But the Allies are delayed by fierce fighting that Summer of 1944, and Roy Allen decides to leave the relative safety of Colette Florin's rooms above the girls' school. He wants to travel to occupied Paris to reach the Resistance pipeline to get him out of France. It was here that the "novel" aspects began to overwhelm me. I said to myself that I would not write it that way; it would be more realistic if the American flyer stayed with the French teacher in the so-called "Golden Cage" and wait for the Allied Armies. Then I saw the photo section (between pages 240 & 241), and I was reminded that Roy Allen actually existed! He was NOT a fictional character. Nor was Colette. They, along with Pierre Muslant, lived and struggled in wartime France. Pierre Muslant was a member of the French Resistance who was to help Roy escape via Paris. Along with Roy, Muslant was captured and died in Buchenwald, so there is only a sketch of him, not a photograph.
The excellent writing along with the actual story of this adventure made it almost impossible to put this book down. Just remember, as you read the book, it is fact, not fiction.
The central character, Roy Allen, is cast as a heroic figure, with an indominable will to survive, all the while doing the right thing. (How Childers tells Allen's story apparently without ever having met him is also a noteworthy acheivement). But it is also evident that there were many Roy Allens who served the Allies in WWII.
"In the Shadows of War " also has a strong supporting cast. Most especially, Colette Florin the school teacher who risked her life to hide Allen in her apartment. Childers wisely takes the time to fully introduces and present Florin and the rest of the "cast."
This book will not just have appeal to World War II buffs. Anyone who likes a cracking good story and appreciates good writing will be drawn into the "Shadows of War."