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This final volume of the Blue Bicycle trilogy (The Blue Bicycle; Lea) sends Lea through Occupied France in the days before the Liberation: a pastiche of thinly dramatized notecards and a romance heroine. Lea is part of the Resistance, fighting the Nazis and their collaborators. The recounting of arrests, atrocities, reprisals, and massacres is endless--but these action sequences, at least, provide a convincing (if overwritten) portrait of the chaos in France as the Reich crumbled and the Resistance moved into high gear. Lea, always breathless and passionate, leaves Montillac after she's denounced to the Gestapo. With her companions she shuffles between maquis (underground groups), where betrayal is commonplace, and searches for news of Commander Francois Tavernier, her lover. They meet on occasion (in their love scenes, ""his loins stir,"" and he becomes ""magnificently erect"" until he ""appeases his hunger"")--while the cast of thousands include Mathias, a collaborator who loves Lea with his very soul until his death; Father Adrien, Lea's uncle, who commits suicide after assassinating the collaborator Flaux; and Charles, child of long-suffering Camille and freedom-fighter Largent, both of whom die. Lea finds a safehouse with an aunt and takes care of Charles as the Germans massacre everyone. In despair, Lea recovers by reading Gone with the Wind. The Germans leave Paris after burning it up, and the liberated masses take nauseating revenge. Despite finding Francois again and ""mating furiously,"" Lea goes into a coma for 12 days. When she recovers, she joins the Red Cross for ""a journey into Hell."" In Berlin, she ministers to concentration-camp victims, then thinks sad summing-up thoughts until Francois arrives with young Charles on the last page. A book whose only redeeming value may be its milieu: the portrait of war-torn France is chaotic enough to be convincing.

Pub Date: Dec. 15th, 1988
Publisher: Lyle Stuart