heaven_ali (heaven_ali) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

#24 Rosie's War: Rosamond Say and Noel Holland (2011)

This is the extraordinary true story of a plucky young woman and her dramatic escape from a German-run internment camp in Occupied France. Written in Rosemary's own words and completed by her daughter and son-in-law after her death, it includes photographs and documents from Rosie's incredible journey. Rosie's story moves from artistic circles in Avignon, through occupied Paris and the privations of prison camp, and across war-ravaged Europe. A tale of remarkable courage: not only of Rosie herself, but also of the many people who helped and harboured her at huge personal risk. Rosie's story sheds light on the little-known story of the thousands of British women trapped in Occupied France. Moving, enthralling, and inspirational, 'Rosie's War' is a book for all to enjoy.

I find, I often really enjoy true stories of World War Two.  For me they really bring home the realities of a time that I think is hard for us now in the 21st century to properly appreciate. We live in a world now, where everything is known in an instant, where travel is easier and faster than it has ever been.  This book – and many like it – remind us of a time when people could go weeks without knowing whether their loved ones were ok, making a phone call or sending a telegram was an involved process and sometimes a costly one during the lean years of 1939 – 1945.

This book – which I think is only available in hardback or kindle edition at the moment – is a hugely readable and enjoyable book. A fairly quick and easy read it is a quite extraordinary story of courage and overcoming adversity. I found myself wondering time and again how I would have coped – as a young twenty two year old, trapped in a terrifying situation – I don’t think I would have done anything like as well as Rosamond (known as Pat) Say did.

Rosie – working in France as an Au Pair – realises in 1940 she has to get out of France fast – unfortunately she receives some poor advice – and finds herself in Paris just as the Germans arrive. She’s a young English woman alone and with little money in a city occupied by her country’s enemy. Around her are people living in fear, collaborators and Germans.  After working in a police station for a short time, Rosie is interned as an enemy alien, and sent to a women’s camp. Here she endures horrendous conditions, poor food and sanitation, terrible cold, lice and overcrowding. Later she and the friends she has made are moved to the much nicer camp at Vittel, a camp used for German propaganda – conditions are better with less restrictions – Rosie begins to think of escape. How she escapes and what follows is an amazing mixture of good luck and bravery. Rosie and her friends were a remarkable group of people – and their stories are extremely well told.

Reading this on kindle – I had to wait until I came to the end to examine the pictures that are included – which I would have enjoyed being able to flick to whilst reading – but that is a small point – as at the moment the kindle edition is far cheaper than the hardback. I would certainly recommend this to people who enjoy true life stories from World War Two.


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