Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review: "Look to the East" by Maureen Lang

Summary from At the dawn of the First World War, the French provincial village of Briecourt is isolated from the battles, but the century-old feud between the Toussaints and the de Colvilles still rages in the streets. When the German army sweeps in to occupy the town, families on both sides of the feud must work together to protect stragglers caught behind enemy lines.

Julitte Toussaint may have been adopted from a faraway island, but she feels the scorn of the de Colvilles as much as anyone born a Toussaint. So when she falls in love with one of the stragglers—a wealthy and handsome Belgian entrepreneur—she knows she’s playing with fire. Charles Lassone hides in the cellar of the Briecourt church, safe from the Germans for the moment. But if he’s discovered, it will bring danger to the entire village and could cost Charles his life.

Sometimes I feel like books set during WWI doesn't get as much attention in fiction as WWII stories tend to. I don't know if it's because WWII has more American support or if it was just more "glamorous" but either way I just don't feel like there are enough stories about that time period. Therefore I'm always excited to see books from the European perspective because that's even less tackled area especially in terms of Christian fiction.

The story takes place in France right as WWI is breaking out and deals with several different nationalities in a small village. As with many small villages, there's lots of feuds that are going on with families. Even in the midst of German soldiers raiding their village and forcing them to do things against their will, it's amazing at how some of the families insist on keeping the feuds alive. Instead of joining forces, they are dead set on keeping things apart. The culture of the town is showed in full force and helps to bring the story to life. It is obvious that Lang has done her historical research in creating this story.

Romance is also a big factor in the story as Julitte and Charles find themselves being thrown together during this turbulent time. I honestly didn't really find their romance to be all that interesting. Separately as characters however their stories were much more intriguing as they have to get past the German soldiers in order to survive.

I hate to admit this but I wasn't really a big fan of this book. I normally love Lang's works and have had enjoyable times reading them. However, this book just did not gel with me. I don't know exactly what it was. Maybe I couldn't connect with the character or I didn't feel that they were very developed. It might also have been that I was kind of plopped into the story with not much background. Or maybe it was just my mood at the time. However it wasn't enough to make me stop reading the book. I never felt like I was forcing myself to finish the story.

I did find it overall to be interesting and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. For those who are fans of WWI historical fiction, this gives a different take on the era.

Look to the East by Maureen Lang is published by Tyndale (2009)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

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