In Nazi-occupied Guernsey, the wrong decision can destroy a life…Left profoundly deaf after an accident, Émile is no stranger to isolation – or heartbreak. Now, as Nazi planes loom over Guernsey, he senses life is about to change forever.Trapped in a tense, fearful marriage, Isabelle doesn’t know what has become of Émile and the future she hoped for. But when she glimpses him from the window of the French House, their lives collide once more. Leutnant Schreiber is more comfortable wielding a paintbrush than a pistol. But he has little choice in the role he is forced to play in the occupying forces – or in his own forbidden desires. As their paths entwine, loyalties are blurred and dangerous secrets forged. But on an island under occupation, courage can have deadly consequences…Lyrical, moving and compelling, this is a novel about wanting to hear and learning to listen – to the truths of our own hearts.Perfect for lovers of The Nightingale, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and All the Light We Cannot See.
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The French House is a beautifully written, absorbing and emotional story which is hard to believe is a debut novel.
I’m a huge fan of historical fiction set in world war 2 so this book instantly appealed. The author paints a vivid picture of what life was like under the German Occupation and I found it very interesting, if poignant, to learn more about that time. It must have been incredibly hard dealing not only with all the normal hardships we associate with the war (rationing, bombs) but also the constant fear of having the enemy so close and worse still having to house them in your own home and feed them.
The characters were all brilliant creations who seems very believable and real as they all had character flaws which made some of them very unlikeable. My two favourite where definitely Emile and Isabelle. It was great to get to know them better over the course of the book and learn more about their relationship with each other. I thought it was very sad that they hadn’t worked out and that they seemed unhappy in their relationships with the people they had ended up with. Emile was an especially intriguing character and I found it very interesting to learn more about his deafness and how other people treated him because of it. It was very poignant to learn that most people left him alone or avoided him because of it and it was hard to see how it affected him and the loneliness he felt because of this.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and felt quickly drawn into the story and the characters lives. There always seemed to be something happening that kept my interest and in the slower parts of the book I found I had to keep reading as I wanted to find out what happened to the characters. There are some very sad moments in the book but I felt these were well balanced out with some beautifully written moments of family, love and hope. I’d really recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and can’t wait to read more from this talented author.
Huge thanks to Steven Cooper and Hodder and Stoughton for my copy of this book.
About The Author:
Jacquie Bloese, an alumna of the Curtis Brown Creative course, has a strong personal connection with the subject matter of THE FRENCH HOUSE. She grew up on Guernsey, and is in love with both the island setting and its history. The character of Émile is loosely inspired by her great-grandfather, who suffered permanent hearing loss as a young man. Jacquie has worked as a publisher of English Language Teaching materials for a variety of publishers including Penguin Random House, Scholastic and Oxford University Press. The French House, which was commended in the 2020 Caledonian Novel Award as ‘a brilliantly moving historical novel’ and was a finalist in the 2019 Mslexia First Novel Award, is her debut novel.