Review: How Angels Die, by David-Michael Harding
I have read several books set in the Second World War – and I will read more, because I like these stories – and all of them offer a different point of view because there were such an amount of subjects, countries and people involved that you always get to know a new side of that war.
In How angels die the main characters are two sisters who work for the French Resistance against the Germans. Claire is the youngest sister and she is a brave fighter: she works at night preparing ambushes in the forests and killing as many Germans as she is capable of with many of the Resistance men. Monique also works at night, but she puts her best dresses on and goes to the best clubs, where she meets and dates Germans in order to extract information from them in a sometimes too intimate atmosphere.
Monique does her best because she knows she would never be able to hold a weapon, and anyway, her job is also dangerous since she can be accused of espionage; but both Claire and their father don’t understand she is also contributing to the cause so they argue very often and this makes Monique feel so lonely. Their mother instead supports Monique but doesn’t like Claire’s assignments: she is afraid every time Claire leaves home at night because she doesn’t know whether or not she will come back.
The story takes place in 1944 but it only lasts a few days from the night when Monique meets Pieter, a German officer who seems to be kind, educated and tender to her, and finishes the night of the Normandy landings. In the meantime, Monique will fall in love with Pieter but nevertheless, she will betray him to give the information about the next movements of the German army to her people, so the Gestapo officers will become suspicious of him. On the other hand, Claire will put herself in too much danger and her family is about to break down.
I enjoyed every single page of the book. The story is very descriptive so you feel as if you are going with the girls through the streets of their village, always in the dark, back and forth from Monique to Claire, who are always in different places as their jobs require. The characters are so realistic, and they reminded me of my own sister and me: we couldn’t be more different but it doesn’t mean we don’t get on well with each other. I also liked other characters and secondary plots about other people of the Resistance, even though I would have liked to know more about some of them, especially about the men of the story: Pieter, Claire’s boyfriend and the father of the two main characters.
All the scenes are well described and I felt I was watching a movie instead of reading a book. It is full of action and has some surprising twists at the end so you can’t stop reading and suffering for the girls when they are in too much danger; Monique and Claire are engaging characters who will make readers laugh and cry. I loved the book.