May 1944, World War II: the Allies prepare to invade Europe. The Axis must not know their plan, but many leaks threaten. Can an American intelligence officer beat the clock? A vivid tale of suspense, courage, and love.
- Aeon Publishing Inc.
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- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)
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In A.R. Homer¿s second novel, ¿The Sobs of Autumn¿s Violins,¿ he wields superb story telling talent that places him alongside Ken Follett, another author who brings human sensitivity to World War II intrigue. This novel set in England and Normandy during the two weeks that precede the Allies invasion of Normandy in May 1944 is an oxymoron. It tells both a touching and thrilling tale that spins yet another version about the `decoy¿ used to confuse Hitler on the exact location of the expected invasion: Operation First Violin. Along with wartime intrigue and betrayal, Homer pulls out all the stops in his orchestration of secret lies that force ordinary people, including a wee French orphan called Célèste, to become extraordinarily brave as he depicts love in its greatest glory surviving in the midst of cruel evil. Homer even achieves arousing the reader¿s fleeting sympathy for the sleeper German spy set to turn the tables on the brash Americans and snobbish British. Weaving true bits of history through a maze of subversive riddles as he peels away layers of character and story establishes Homer as a master plotter¿a star among stars. ¿The Sobs of Autumn¿s Violins¿ is a book you¿ll waive sleep to finish and then recall its vivid images for days afterwards. A remarkable feat, utterly fascinating, and totally credible.
¿The Sobs of Autumn¿s Violins¿ is a wonderful find for lovers of historical fiction: it immerses us in rich and fascinating history even as it moves and thrills us with the tales of characters whom we fall in love with, admire, shed a tear for, fear, or loathe. Its period is the two weeks preceding D-Day, and its theme is the safeguarding of the D-Day secret: when and where the Allied invasion of Europe would occur, arguably the most monumental secret in all of history. Scenes of the novel alternate between England and France, and characters pursue different narrative threads which capture our imagination from the start and excite us as we watch them coalesce. An American intelligence officer, Tom Ford, gets drafted into a dangerous mission when a fellow officer who knows the D-Day secret is captured by the Germans during a rehearsal for D-Day off the coast of England. Missions into France made by English agent courier, Jeanne Busson, go dangerously awry with devastating results. Philippe Josse, French Resistance leader, is critical to the Allied cause but is he also in bed with the Germans? And somewhere in England there is a sleeper spy out to steal the secret details of the invasion - diary entries show the spy¿s progress at penetrating the vital allied security. It would be unfair to suggest this wonderful novel is of the blood-and-guts genre, for there is much humor in it (I loved the chapter in which General Patton bemoans his fate in the invasion plans), and also two beautiful and touching love stories. Best of all, there¿s a little French orphan girl upon whose frail shoulders the full weight of saving the secret rests. This book should appeal to historical fiction aficionados, World War II buffs, and those of us who are romantically inclined, as well. It¿s a spellbinding read.
At a time of bitter debate about the worth of shedding American blood, it is gratifying to recall a time when the justification for decisive action was crystal clear. That time: D-Day, evoking patriotic visions of brave men in battles that ultimately decided the course of history. Equally miraculous, however, was the safeguarding of the D-Day secret ¿ where and when the invasion would take place ¿ from desperately prying eyes, ears, and stealth as over a million American servicemen waited in England to cross the Channel. In A.R. Homer¿s stirring novel, The Sobs of Autumn¿s Violins (the title comes from the Verlaine poem broadcast by the BBC to tell the French Resistance the invasion was imminent), we learn that the D-Day secret was protected by an elaborate offensive campaign of deception, described vividly in the novel by none other than General Patton, himself. Defensive tactics were fallen back upon when things went wrong as Tom Ford, an American intelligence officer and the protagonist of the novel, finds out when another officer, privy to the D-Day secret, is captured by the Germans during a rehearsal for D-Day off the coast of Devon, England (this bit of plot is based on the April, 1944 Operation Tiger disaster, kept secret by the American government for decades). Jeanne Busson, a British agent courier, on the other hand, is unwittingly mired in the campaign of deception when, parachuting into occupied France, she finds she has been betrayed. Perhaps by Philippe Josse, French Resistance leader, who double-deals with both the British Secret Service and with Richter, an odious Nazi Gestapo boss. But where were all the German spies? As Homer relates with historical accuracy, they had all been captured early in the war and either executed or ¿turned¿ to aid the deception effort. But what, poses Homer, if there had been a sleeper spy embedded in England before the war? The author gives life to such an agent: through anonymous diary entries, we learn the plan to steal the secret and get it to the Nazis in France through ingenious means. In this historical adventure are fascinating depictions of the mores of the time. Tom, married, laments his hasty marriage before his posting to England: he is one of thousands of American servicemen who chose ¿ or were led into ¿ quick weddings before shipping out. His love affair with an Englishwoman spotlights cultural differences between the Yanks and the Brits, as when Tom is introduced to an English dessert called `Spotted Dick.¿ Then there is the friendship between an upper-class Englishwoman, who has joined the WRENs (Women¿s Royal Naval Service), and a working-class English serviceman. Homer shows the effects of war on that rigidly class-divided society of 1940s England, when debutantes hung up their ball gowns to don uniforms and venture into the unfamiliar world of hard work and danger in the company of those who might have been their servants. This fast-paced and beautifully-written novel involves several simultaneous themes playing in counterpoint on both sides of the Channel and resolving in two stunning climaxes. In the end, everything that precedes is pulled into sharp and surprising focus.