This is the story of the courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought in the French Resistance (the Maquis) primarily in Southern France during WWII, by Pamela Eglinski.
The German army march toward Rome, Italy is in turmoil and the Settevendemie family must send their beautiful young daughter Catalina across the Alps to Nice for safety, with the family fortune, diamonds cut from the legendary French Blue, tied around her waist.
It is a gripping historical novel that keeps up a fast pace from the start and under her nom de guerre of Charlotte Beaumont, the heroine is an ordinary girl living in extraordinary times who finds great strength of character and courage but becomes hardened by the atrocities she witnesses. She will do anything to avenge the deaths of those she loved. She locates her childhood friend, Edouard Bonhomme, now a Maquis cell leader and becomes one of the few women to be accepted and trained in guerrilla warfare. As the tight knit cell carry out attacks on the Germans, the shy insecure Catalina falls in love and becomes a brilliant Maquisard but the grim reality of war is never far and the horror of the brutality unleashed by the Germans unimaginable.
In an action packed climax, the White Fox, a woman revered as “an army of men” by the Maquis and reputed to be Churchill’s personal spy, parachutes in to build her army for a crucial mission and we see the full size, scale and impact of this most resilient, resourceful French band. But despite their triumphs, there are so many losses to be borne that the Falicon Maquis, Catalina’s cell become as close as a family, bound together forever with deep loyalty and trust.
Fearing the fracture of France, De Gaulle’s Free French Army galvanise into action and begin to liaise with the allies now preparing to liberate France. The people of Nice return slowly and the Falicon Maquis retreat together, recovering slowly they encourage each other to rebuild their lives.
Catalina dreams of following in her father’s footsteps, avidly learning about grape varieties and winemaking and plans to use the blue diamonds as collateral to become a vintner in California. Her adventures are far from over. We leave Catalina as the Germans surrender to the allies on May 5, 1945 and French Resistance flags hang from every window, crowds sing the Marseillaise and dance in the streets.
The book is told so simply yet paints such a vivid picture that makes it feel very real to readers and draws and holds them until the very end and … The Return of the French Blue! Rich descriptions of southern France and a richly woven plot keep the reader absorbed from start to finish.
The author’s style is as conspiratorial as her characters who we come to know and like so that at times it is very moving. Pamela Boles Eglinski is clearly very knowledgeable about this historical period. Pamela Boles Eglinski gives her readers a real insight and knowledge of France during the German occupation and the bravery and resourcefulness of her people and the loyal French Resistance.