Paris, 1942. The brilliant city of lights is occupied by German troops. In an effort to maintain an iron grip on the fallen capital, Nazi forces regularly patrol the elegant Parisian neighborhoods, looking for any signs of sedition or sabotage.
Maintaining a visible presence through grim, uniformed soldiers, they also use more covert methods, such as wandering throughout the areas dressed as regular civilians. High on their search list are members of the French resistance network, brave individuals risking their lives to cast off the German occupation.
In his novel “Under Occupation,” Alan Furst recounts the story of Paul Ricard, a novelist who steps up to join the resistance movement and fight to restore liberty to France.
Ricard’s ordinary life as a rather laid-back, unassuming author changes when he receives a cryptic document. The owner passed it along to him, unfortunately dying before he could reveal its meaning. Believing that it may have something to do with a German military weapon, he realizes the Allies may be able to use the document to gain an advantage over the Axis forces.
Tentatively reaching out to shadowy French resistance operatives, he manages to get the document to London, where analysts can decipher it. They confirm his suspicion, and Ricard is immediately invited to become a resistance member and gather more precious intelligence to aid the war effort. After initially hesitating, Ricard agrees to join the movement, discovering a well of patriotism for his country that he had not known he possessed. Armed with his wits, a few fellow agents and the Allies’ resources, Ricard goes on increasingly dangerous undercover missions to provide crucial information to the London headquarters.
Furst’s narrative of life during World War II is stunning, providing vivid descriptions of what life would have been like during this period. The author provides striking glimpses into the hardships suffered under occupied France. This novel is a fantastic read into how they defied Vichy France and the German forces controlling it in order to help restore freedom to France.