The saga of a well-situated American doctor and his Swiss-born wife caught up in Resistance activity in occupied Paris.
Kershaw (The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau, 2012, etc.) tells a sympathetic story of an American doctor at Neuilly-sur-Seine’s prestigious American Hospital in Paris, a veteran of World War I who married a Parisian and resolved, with her and their adolescent son, to stay in Paris and carry on when the Nazis arrived. Dr. Sumner Jackson was the chief surgeon of the American Hospital, a somewhat forbidding, short-tempered, enormously capable doctor who decided to stay in Paris when the Nazis invaded, mainly because his wife, Toquette, was so ardently opposed to living in America. Many of the other chief doctors at the hospital decamped (or committed suicide), but Jackson stayed on, making sure the hospital stayed full—he evacuated the French and protected the English and American POW patients by falsifying records—so that the Germans would not think to close it. Kershaw also depicts the tightening of the SS tentacles on life in Paris thanks to the impassioned work of Paris Gestapo chief Helmut “Bones” Knochen, who lodged on the chic Avenue Foch, where Jackson and his family also lived. The avenue, named for the hero of World War I who had shamed the vanquished Germans at Versailles—an irony not lost on the occupiers—became the locus of Nazi power in Paris and was thus attractive to the leaders of the Resistance, who enlisted Toquette to use the family’s place as a spy drop. Famine, patriotism, collaboration, deportation—Kershaw portrays the suspense and terror of this time in the plight of one well-intentioned American-French family caught up in the horror.
A tenderly engaging saga of solid research and emotional connection.