The Things We Did For Love
London, Faber, 2012, 224p
The climax of this book was one of the most heart-breaking pieces of literature I have ever had to read. Based on true events during the Second World War, The Things We Did For Love unexpectedly transformed from a sweet love story to a tragic tale of brute violence.
Ari and Luc are sweethearts living in a small village in France during the Nazi occupation. Luc is unsettled, angry at what is going on around him, as minorities and rebels are being turned over to the Germans. He thinks he might be able to help if he joins the Resistance. But Ari fears he will only get hurt, and is convinced that their love can overcome his desire to leave.
The romance was not my favourite part of this novel - I am not a fan of the 'love overcomes all' plot where people sacrifice their beliefs for their lover. Luc was a passionate hero, guided by his morals and willing to give up his life for the cause. But Ari was a draining heroine - I felt like she was holding him back.
But it was not these two characters who make this novel great; instead it was the supporting cast. Ari's cousin, Solange, and her brother, Paul; Romy, the boy who has loved Ari for as long as he can remember, trying to do right by her; and the German officers, sent to commit the worst of atrocities and always carrying the weight of self-doubt and guilt.
Most powerful of all was the ending of this novel. Farrant writes in her afterword that this story is based on true events: on 10th june 1944, the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich entered the village of Oradour-sur-Glane and massacred it's occupants. Innocent men, women and children were slaughtered in the most horrifying of circumstances. Today, the town remains empty, haunted by it's tragic past.
Whether you like historical fiction or teenage romance, this novel has a beautifully dark story to tell, one that will make you ponder long after you have finished the final page.