I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence, Mature Language, and Mature Situations. The story is set in 1943 Brussels. Belgium has been occupied by the Germans since May 28 of 1940. The primary character is twelve-year-old street orphan Helene, who is living in disguise as a boy.
The Germans are trying to sway public opinion away from the Allies. A German comes up with the idea to publish a fake issue of a resistance newspaper turning it into a Nazi propaganda bomb that will sway the public. They approach journalist Marc Aubrion and force him, and his associates, to create the paper.
Aubrion, along with an odd group of resistance fighters and newspapermen, come together to publish a very special issue of Belgium’s most popular newspaper, Le Soir instead. Le Soir has been taken over by the Nazis and is being used to publish their propaganda. The small group, including the young Helene, come up with the wild plan of secretly publishing an issue full of Zwanze [meaning farce or spoof] poking fun at the Germans.
They have only 18 days to pull their plan together, write the articles, then publish and deliver the papers under the noses of the Nazis.
I enjoyed the 18 hours I spent reading this 544-page WWII thriller. This story is based on fact. A spoof issue of Faux Soir was published on November 9, 1943. While I thought the story was interesting, I also thought it was very slow reading. I almost declared a Rule of 50 and abandoned it. I have to say that it did get better towards the end. There were unusual several characters in the story. It was certainly an interesting plot, almost unbelievable, yet it really happened. The chosen cover art is OK, though I think something closer to the story could have been chosen. I give this novel a 3.8 (rounded up to a 4) out of 5.
My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).
If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these two pages of mine of interest.
The “World War II Sources” page is a collection of more than 310 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.
The “World War II Timeline” page shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.