Jeanette's Reviews > The Englishman's Daughter: A True Story of Love and Betrayal in World War I

The Englishman's Daughter by Ben Macintyre
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's review
Feb 13, 2010

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bookshelves: nonfiction, wwi, 2010
Read from February 06 to 13, 2010

** spoiler alert ** Perhaps instead of the subtitle of A True Story of Love and Betrayal in World War I a more apt subtitle for this book would be A True Story of a French Village during World War I. Maybe not as appealing but much more accurate. I found The Englishman's Daughter to be not so much a love story as a story about a small French village during World War I. Reading this book I got a good sense of what life was like for these French peasants before the war and during the German occupation. The affair between Englishman Robert Digby and French peasant Claire Dessenne only made up a small fraction of the narrative. Information about the daughter that was born as a result of the relationship was even more scarce.
The story was really slow and rather dry for at least the first half of the book. There was a lot of set up and explanations about the maneuvers and movements between the armies etc. The story of Robert and Claire does not even really make an appearance until about page 100 and only occupies a handful of pages throughout.
The Englishman's Daughter is about so much more than Robert and Claire. If you are looking for a good human interest/love story from WWI keep looking. If you are looking for the true story of what life was like in a small French village that harbored some English soldiers while the Germans occupied the area and what happened to them than this book might be worth the read.

As I suspected throughout my reading there was no clear answer to who betrayed the English soldiers to the Germans. Macintyre did do a good job of presenting the likely suspects and working through what little evidence there is to try and determine who actually did turn them in but too many years and too many missing records make that all but impossible.
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