REPRISAL by Ethel Vance


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The author of Escape has, perhaps wisely, refrained from attempting to copy herself. Reprisal is utterly unlike Escape; utterly unlike the novels she has done under the name of Grace Zaring Stone. The market will, inevitably, be the Escape market but it's possibly wiser to suggest that this more nearly classifies as a psychological adventure story, with the action secondary in importance. The period spans the collapse of France, the reaching out of the enemy to strangle the Vichy-led French. The setting is Brittany, with occasional flashbacks to Paris and an earlier, happier period, although shadowed by fear of what was in store, by uncertainty as to the wisdom of decisions taken. Francoise worshipped her gentle, idealistic father, the Minister -- at the time of writing without portfolio in a government he distrusted, but was not in sympathy with his pacifism, his conciliatory attitude; Blaise, her younger brother, was adolescently at odds with his world, until he suddenly seemed to find himself, to know where he was heading -- his very assurance causing suspicion and terror to his family. Then there is Maurice, long time servant of the household, in the secret with Blaise, and eventually the victim. And finally, there is the evil genius, Edouard, who goes over to the enemy, after glorying in his power over the little family. The minor character in the village and in the household, and the somewhat shadowy figure of the American, Simon, whom Francoise loved -- and thought she had lost -- served as foils for the terrific struggle as the Galles try to resolve their doubts as to the Vichy regime, the future of France, their responsibility to the village and to the hostages seized in reprisal for the murder of a German officer, and to each other. Skillfully handled, conveying a suspense, a feel of the defeated nation, but not a novel of action.

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 1942
ISBN: 0548386560
Publisher: Little, Brown