Michael Wallner's thrilling first novel, set in occupied France during World War II, movingly recounts the impossible love affair between a German soldier and a French resistance fighter.Roth, a young soldier in the SS and a fluent French translator, works as an interpreter during the interrogation of Resistance fighters. But while off-duty, he slips away from his fellow officers, changes into civilian clothes, and wanders aimlessly through Paris disguised as his alter ego "Antoine." One day he is drawn into an antiquarian bookshop and becomes enchanted with the bookseller's beautiful daughter, Chantal. The two begin to meet and fall in love before Roth has the courage to reveal his true identity, or the time to discover that Chantal is part of the Resistance. Written in an elegant and arresting style, April in Paris is an engrossing novel from a promising new talent.
Wallner's harrowing debut, a love story of sorts though there's little romance, rings with authenticity. In 1943, Corporal Roth, a 22-year-old translator in the German occupation forces in France, is reassigned to SS headquarters in Paris, where his job is to translate the confessions of members of the resistance as they are being tortured. While strolling through the city, Roth encounters a beautiful young woman and is instantly smitten. Because he can speak French flawlessly, Roth takes the identity of "Antoine" and pursues the young lady, Chantal, with tragic results. Chantal is a member of the French resistance, and while Roth isn't a coldhearted Nazi, he is a German and his obsession leads him ever downward until he's accused of being a traitor. Many European imports these days read like pale imitations of genre novels by Americans, but this sterling period piece will strike readers as distinctively and refreshingly German in its concerns.
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I've read a couple of books from this time period like the Nightingale and the Girl from Venice, if you like those this will be a favorite of yours as well. Great story with characters that are enjoyable.