Cone’s novel has been on my TBR list for quite some time and I was excited when I received the book from PaperBackSwap back in January.
The setting reminded me of another book I read a while back as both books the demilitarization and subsequent occupation of the British islands in the English Channel by the Nazis. The other book is set on the island of Guernsey while this book is set on the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, and Sark.
Cone’s book follows Marlene Zimmer, the child of a Jewish man and non-Jewish woman, as she abruptly leaves her home in order to avoid registering as a Jew. She also meets the artists and longtime lovers Lucille and Suzanna and becomes active in their resistance work.
My major complaint about this novel stems from the fact that it was self-published. The odd layout of ordinances and decrees she tries to interview in the story made them slightly confusing to read and I could never tell if the decrees were factual or fictional.
At one point in the book, Cone has set her characters in September 1942 and is discussing the British/Soviet takeover of the German embassy in Teheran, Iran. She’s explaining why Teheran mattered to those living on the Channel Islands and then jumps ahead in time:
“Tired of this largely unwanted attention, Reza Shah (father of the 1970’s celebrity Shah)…” (pg. 143)
This seemingly inconsequential tidbit of information really bothered me. Her characters wouldn’t know this and when writing a fictional tale set during a specific time period, you and/or your characters should not reference something they wouldn’t know about.
I appreciated the portrayal Cone offers of the difficulties people (including non-Jews) experienced during World War II as well as the effect occupation had on the Jewish population of these British islands. But I didn’t love this book as there were problems I just could not look past.
- Cone, Libby. War on the Margins. Self-published, 2008. Print. 337 pgs. ISBN: 9781419689956. Source: PaperBackSwap.