Grid Review: A Fine Woman by David George Richards
Author’s summary: A Fine Woman is a romance story set in wartime France with a German Countess called Helga as the lead character. It includes elements of the Holocaust, the French Resistance, the invasion of Southern France, and the internment of Jewish people in Cyprus who were trying to reach Palestine after the war. The story is told in flashback by an American soldier who is searching for Helga and thinks he has found her in a convent in Antibes. He’s in love with her. But does she love him? And will he find her? With a multitude of different English, French, German, and American characters I have tried to make them all distinctly different, and hopefully, believable. You will have to let me know if I got them right!
I wanted to write a Sleepless in Seattle style of story with a difference, and I knew when I started A Fine Woman that I would have to get the feel right. The result is that the general background about the American invasion of Southern France and the British Mandate over Palestine and Israel are all based on real history. And although the failed assassination attempt on Hitler is well documented, the invasion of Southern France is often overlooked by movie moguls. Equally important as Operation Overload in Normandy only two months earlier, it was codenamed Operation Dragoon, and was an equally fraught sea-borne landing undertaken by the US Seventh Army. The British internment camps in Cyprus for Jews intercepted while attempting to reach Palestine are also little remembered today.
A Fine Woman was originally published as an Amazon Short in three parts. I have updated the new Kindle version slightly, mainly as a result of reviews and suggestions I received for the Amazon Shorts version. So I do try and take on board any suggestions.
I am very pleased with the result and I think the flashback style as Captain Taylor searches for Helga works well. But having said that, I don’t think there is actually a railway line that connects Antibes with Juan-les-Pins, Mougins, Vallauris and Grasse! Or even if there is a Convent in Antibes. But in the 1940s you never know! And finally, A Fine Woman is purely a work of fiction and nothing more, so although some concentration camps did exist in Germany during the war, the camp near Helga’s estate is also fictitious, and no connection to any particular camp is intended or implied.
Overall Impression: I don’t usually like Holocaust fiction, because it is wrought with non-historical embellishments that just don’t seem to be appropriate when dealing with something as profound as the subject of the Holocaust, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author stayed true to the period of history 100%. He didn’t try to “invent” a better outcome for this or that event. I highly recommend this book.