Today I have the pleasure of sharing a 4.5* review for Soraya M. Lane’s outstanding WWII novel Hearts of Resistance. Deeply emotional and equally action packed, this novel is sure to please lovers of thrillers, historical fiction, and women’s fiction alike.
Title: Hearts of Resistance
Author: Soraya M. Lane
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: January 10, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII Fiction, General Fiction
Themes: WWII, French Resistance, Romance, Survival, POW, Friendship
My Rating: 4.5/ 5
At the height of World War II, three women must come together to fight for freedom, for the men they love—and for each other.
When Hazel is given the chance to parachute into Nazi-occupied France, she seizes the opportunity to do more for the British war effort than file paperwork. Alongside her childhood friend, French-born Rose, she quickly rises up the ranks of the freedom fighters. For Rose, the Resistance is a link to her late husband, and a way to move forward without him. What starts out as helping downed airmen becomes a bigger cause when they meet Sophia, a German escapee and fierce critic of Hitler who is wanted by the Gestapo. Together the three women form a bond that will last a lifetime.
But amid the turmoil and tragedy of warfare, all three risk losing everything—and everyone—they hold dear. Will their united front be strong enough to see them through?
Oh my word, I don’t even know where to begin with this book. From the writing through to the characters, I was absolutely entranced from the first few words and refused to put the book down again until it was finished. Hazel, Sophia, and Rose were so compelling and had such strong elements of authenticity that I had to keep reminding myself that this was a work of fiction.
The choice to follow these three women from different backgrounds and at different times really worked to create a more wholistic idea of who and what the women in the French Resistance were. The constantly shifting perspectives kept things lively, and really helps to establish a sense of the enormity of their task. It was neat to see their individual stories come together, although I personally would have preferred for their stories to join up sooner just to have a little more time spent behind enemy lines.
Each of the three heroines is clearly defined, and not once do their characters, thoughts, or actions blend into one another. I enjoyed the amount of back story that was provided for each – Sophia’s upbringing in a wealthy Nazi family and her secret supports of Jews, Rose’s luxurious life and traumatic losses, and Hazel’s comfortable English life and feminist awakening – as the time spent on each drives home the losses and risks undertaken by each.
Although Hearts of Resistance is a more character based tale than my typical WWII picks, it still contains ample detail revealing the depth of Lane’s research. From the BBC broadcasts to the ciphers written on silk, and from the drop process to the physical components of the radio it is clear how much attention was paid to detail. I was fascinated too by the activities undertaken by the Maquis to hinder the Axis response to the Normandy landings, which meant that I have to see if this particular aspect was based in truth. This might not be a big secret by now, but I just love it when a work of fiction pushes me down the road of genuine research!
Nerding out aside, this is ultimately a tale of courage, survival, and loyalty. It explores the depths of morality and conviction under the most trying of circumstances, and it drives home that even in the face of loss that there is always something to fight for. But most importantly, this is a book that highlights the strength, determination, and empowerment of women at the most critical of times.
Would I recommend this book? Oh hells to the yes! Hearts of Resistance is another expertly crafted work of historical fiction that is sure to appeal to a broad range of readers. It has a little something for everyone including espionage, action, romance, and a little feminist kick. Buy it, borrow it, love it! This is one you won’t regret picking up.
Many thanks to Soraya M. Lane and Lake Union Publishing for providing a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.