An abundance of goodness, courage, and humanity, which are expressed in spades in Jenny Lecoat’s historical fiction debut based on the events of the occupation ... Lecoat advances a narrative of optimism ... Eventually, Hedy encounters Lieutenant Kurt Neumann, a sympathetic German officer. The two are drawn together despite their differences, and despite the fact that Hedy continues to hide her identity. Still, their unlikely romance is an antidote to the confining, inhumane rhythms of wartime life. And romance branches out into acts of resistance: Hedy steals petrol coupons and gives them to island doctors so that they can travel to patients ... Lecoat provides generous descriptions of the island setting, and her dialogue captures the emotional nuances of each moment. Flashes of humor lighten the weighty plot. (Lecoat’s background as a comic likely helps with this.) Scenes featuring villains, meanwhile, produce visceral reactions of dismay ... The plot intensifies, until it finally reaches a conclusion that is well worth the wait. The Girl from the Channel Islands sends a timely message of hope and underscores the incredible importance of embracing forgiveness and inclusivity.
Screenwriter Jenny Lecoat’s debut novel is based on an extraordinary true story of resistance and love against the odds ... As might be expected from an experienced writer (albeit in a different medium), the central characters are complex and well-developed. A tight rein is held on the plot, and the atmosphere of menace and paranoia is skilfully built up. The fact that the story the novel is based on is not well-known also means that the reader has no idea whether it will end happily or what the next twist might be. The only real criticism I have is that I would have liked a slightly more detailed historical note at the end of the book, to explain how much is actually known about the characters and events it depicts and what is conjecture.
Surely there are World War II novels that aren’t depressing, but this isn’t one of them. At least it offers a fresh perspective, and shows how brutalized people can survive and still find love and courage, strength and hope, when all seems lost ... The story contains little dramatic action. No battles occurred in the islands, nor organized citizen resistance. But there’s lots of dramatic tension. Indeed, that’s the thrust of the book: what happens psychologically to the characters during the long grinding down of occupation, where the Germans slowly but steadily deprive the islanders of everything they need to prosper, and then to merely survive, over the five years between the Germans’ arrival and defeat ... There are times during the story that readers will be so affected by the strain they will want to put the book aside. But the need to find out what happens ultimately rules. The important, heart-breaking lessons are acted out by Hedy and her lover, Kurt, during their most intense emotional conflicts ... This is not a good book to read before going to bed. But it is a good book to read for learning about the realities of war, and gaining motivation at the individual level to do everything possible to prevent it from happening again.