Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Flame of Resistance" by Tracy Groot Book Review

Tyndale House publishing recently provided me with the opportunity to review the latest fictional novel by author Tracy Groot entitled Flame of Resistance. The book is available in paperback or for Kindle readers. Tracy Groot is the author of several critically acclaimed novels including The Brother's Keeper, Stones of My Accusers, and Madman, which won a Christy award. Tyndalefiction.com offers a newsletter and book club with reading recommendations. Much of this book is based on real people, places, and events. 

To start with, I think a more thorough background knowledge of World War II would have helped me understand a few details of this book better. I think the author could have added a few more basic details or descriptions to help the average reader. For instance there were several war terms that I didn't know and didn't really catch on to until a few chapters worth of context clarified things. The story is set in Nazi occupied France during World War II not long before D-day. A former government employee, Bridgette is forced to open a brothel, as a last resort, in order to survive. When the French resistance needs her help she falls for the operative they send her way. A downed pilot from America who can pass for a German, Tom, is assigned to the brothel to gain intel for a cell of the resistance. The plot gives way to inevitable conflict both physically in the context of war and emotionally for these two characters as well as the leader of the group of resistance, Rousseau.

I enjoyed the story and it read well except for a few minor details. The dialogue between characters could have benefited from the use of a few more pronouns. I often was confused as to who said what. Some of the characters had more than one name because of aliases and I sometimes couldn't keep them straight either; too many characters would disappear and then reappear over several chapters and I would have to go back to remember who they were. Towards the end of the book a character from the beginning showed up and I honestly couldn't remember who he was or his significance to the story. These moments and others throughout the book made me feel like I was on the outside of an inside joke: a bit confused but nodding along like I am in-the-know. I tend to read books a couple chapters at a time so perhaps reading through the novel over a shorter time period would have helped some. 

There were several things I loved about the book. For one, God was a subtle presence, but a presence nonetheless and one that was manifested in realistic ways, such as through happenstance appearance of a man of the cloth with a reminder that God has a place for everyone or in the inner thoughts of a believing character struggling to be Jesus to others no matter whose side they are on. For a book from a Christian publishing house, it wasn't overwhelming with religious tones and implications; God, the church, and His people were a part of their world just as they our ours. I loved the humanity of the characters as well. Not every German is painted as a villain and we see the inner struggle of one particular German officer as he comes to respect and befriend the man he should call his enemy. It is this humanity, and God-given conscience that leads to an unexpected turn of events when the conflict of the novel comes to a head.

I thought the ending was unpredictable yet totally satisfying and not in a cliche sort of way. There is a flash-forward to the future of some characters and I thought that was a nice touch. The epilogue could have benefited by dumbing down the details of the end of the war scenario, again, most of that was over my head. I think most anyone would enjoy this book, particularly war history lovers, anyone with a personal connection to France, and hopeless romantics. The book is also appropriate for any age as it is absent any "colorful" language and grousome war details or sexually overt descriptions pertaining to the brothel setting. I would give this book a 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

***Please Note: I was not compensated for this post. I did however, receive a copy of the novel for review purposes. I was not influenced in any way and all above opinions are my own.


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