Title: The Girl from the Chanel Islands
Author: Jenny Lecoat
Publication: February 2, 2021
Publisher: Graydon House
Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)
The year is 1940, and the world is torn apart by war. In June of that year, Hitler’s army captures the Channel Islands—the only part of Great Britain occupied by German forces. Abandoned by Mr. Churchill, forgotten by the Allies and cut off from all help, the Islands’ situation is increasingly desperate.
Hedy Bercu is a young Jewish girl who fled Vienna for the island of Jersey two years earlier during the Anschluss, only to find herself trapped by the Nazis once more—this time with no escape. Her only hope is to make herself invaluable to the Germans by working as a translator, hiding in plain sight with the help of her friends and community—and a sympathetic German officer. But as the war intensifies, rations dwindle and neighbors are increasingly suspicious of one another. Hedy’s life is in greater danger every day. It will take a definitive, daring act to save her from certain deportation to the concentration camps.
A sweeping tale of bravery and love under impossible circumstances, Hedy’s remarkable story reminds us that it’s often up to ordinary people to be quiet heroes in the face of injustice.
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Phenomenal. Is that a good enough review? Having never read a book by Jenny Lecoat before, I was still instantly drawn to this novel. I’m intrigued by World War 2 stories because of the stories about survivors. I love hearing how they survived or who they helped others survive and what they went through. I find it important to not repeating mistakes in society. The Girl from the Chanel Islands was one of those stories that told of a life seriously affected by Hitler and his regime and the brave and terrifying things one girl had to do to try and survive.
This story followed Hedy, a beautiful, brave Jewish girl living in the Chanel Islands as it is taken over by German soldiers during World War 2. For years she is made to barely survive, labeled as if she has a scarlet letter for being Jewish, and live in constant fear of being deported to one of the rumored concentration camps. With the help of her close friend Anton, his girlfriend Dorothea, and one kind soldier, Hedy’s tale of survival and hope is one for the history books. I mean, it is based on a true story.
I just love Hedy. She quite literally has nothing and still manages to fight against the regime in little ways, stand up for herself, and do what needs to be done in order to survive the war. Anton and Dorothea were characters that actually took a while to grow on me. I love the ups and downs between Hedy and Dorothea and how that relationship grows over time. I was not a fan of Dorothea, but for no valid reason, in the beginning. She quickly showed her true colors and I was able to adapt my opinion accordingly. She may now be one of my favorites. Then you have the sympathetic German officer who quickly won me over and does things that could quite literally get him killed. I love someone “loyal to the cause” is actually helping the good guys. Gives you someone to cheer for.
I’m sure a lot of a research went into this novel because I felt like I was there. I felt Hedy’s stomach pains. I felt her loneliness. I felt her fear. Lecoat did such a great job of writing these characters and setting the scenes that you truly felt like you were seeing it through their eyes. I could picture the streets she was walking down or the bare counters of the store as people lined up in hopes to grab a wedge of moldy cheese or bread. It flowed so smoothly and just as I thought I was going to put it down for a night, something big happened and I would have to read just one more chapter.
I cannot give enough praise to Lecoat for such a phenomenal story. The Girl from the Chanel Islands has everything. War. Romance. Drama. Terror. It’s all there. AND based on a true story. What more could you want? If you don’t feel this book as you read, there is something wrong with you, not the book. Hats off to Lecoat for this heart wrenching, pit in your stomach, hopeful feeling in your chest, story. I cannot wait to read more from her.
STAR RATING: 5/5
Pick up your copy of The Girl from the Chanel Islands on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or check your local bookstore. Also make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are finished. Check out more from author Jenny Lecoat HERE.