Monday, 10 August 2009

Review – Anita SHREVE – “Resistance”

Publ: 1995
My own copy (from a Charity shop)
ISBN: 0 349 10728 9
Genre: Historical adventure / romance / general fiction
Pages: 222p
Found by serendipity
Rating: ***** *****

What led you to pick up this book?
The attractive cover and the blurb.

Describe the plot without giving anything away.
From Fantastic Fiction:-
As she has done in her novels Eden Close, Strange Fits of Passion, and Where or When, Anita Shreve once again leads readers into a harrowing world where lives are catastrophically overturned by emotion. Set in a Belgian village amid the wreckage of World War II, Resistance is a powerful exploration of passion, self-discovery, and sacrifice from one of our most accomplished storytellers. Just as the Nazi occupation forces have drained her village of coffee, meat, and chocolate, the war has also depleted whatever joy there may have been in Claire Daussois's marriage. On their small farm in the south of Belgium, Claire and her husband, Henri, shelter refugees - Jews, Allied pilots, and fleeing Belgian soldiers - before passing them along toward France and freedom. Claire nurses the wounded, acts as interpreter, and waits for the war to end - and, in a way she finds difficult to admit even to herself, for her own life to change. And it does, when an American B-17 bomber is downed near their village. The pilot, badly injured, is found by a young boy who turns to Claire for help in saving him. Henri is away on Resistance work. As the pilot heals and recovers in her attic hiding place, Claire begins to awaken to the possibility of love. Over the course of a mere twenty days, closed off from the world and the war in her farmhouse, Claire and Lieutenant Ted Brice experience a life-changing passion that neither has felt before. That their love is also haunted and impossible only makes it more precious. The war recedes in the face of their joy - before imposing itself once more with shocking suddenness and inconceivable horror. Resistance is the story of a young Belgian woman, an American pilot, and the small war-torn village that shelters them. Richly peopled and fearlessly, gorgeously passionate, it is a powerful exploration of emotion at odds with commitment. No reader who has loved - or resisted love - will forget this lucid and moving tale.

What did you think of the characters?
Excellently delineated and so believable. One felt an instant rapport and sympathy with each of them from the young boy who first found the pilot in the woods to the principal adult characters.

What did you think about the style?

Very suitable for the era and the place. It was written as though by someone who had lived in Belgium at the time which is probably the highest praise one can give a fiction writer.

What did you like most about the book?
It was compelling – the plot and the characterisation were both top quality.

Was there anything you didn't like about the book?

Thoughts on the book jacket / cover
I love ‘moody’ covers and this conveyed the mood of the book perfectly. Well done to the publishers who could have gone for a garish crashed bomber scene!

Would I recommend it?

Totally irrelevant side note:
When I get hold of a book that I think may merit an eight or nine star rating I may agonise for a while over the one star difference. But when a ten star book comes along there is never any question in my mind. It just is! How have I missed her for the twenty years she has been writing novels? Anita Shreve has gone immediately onto my ‘must read all her books’ list.

ANITA SHREVE (born 1945) is the author of nine critically acclaimed and bestselling novels. She began writing fiction while a high school teacher. Although one of her first published stories was awarded an O. Henry Prize in 1975, Shreve felt she couldn't make a living as a fiction writer so she became a journalist. She spent three years in Kenya, writing articles for magazines such as Quest, US, and Newsweek. Back in the US, she wrote freelance articles for magazines. Shreve later expanded two of these articles into the non fiction books Remaking Motherhood and Women Together, Women Alone. At the same time Shreve also began her first novel, Eden Close. With its publication in 1989, she gave up journalism for writing fiction full time. She lives in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.


  1. although some of her books become a tad formulaic after you've read a few, Resistance does stand alone.

    Glad you liked it.

  2. I love Anita Shreve, but would agree with other comment, not formulaic maybe but she has quite a particular distinctive style. You find her books in charity shops a lot, am never sure if that is a good or bad sign. I have not read Resistance so may now seek that one out.
    thanks for sharing

  3. I agree with all comments! Resistance is excellent and slightly unique. Her books are great but may become predictable. I have a love/hate relationship with her and would never read her books if I wasn't in a good mood. The Weight of Water for example is quite depressing. On the other hand, I have bought most of her books and they are still on my bookcase and not in the charity shop.


Hello folks - your comments are always welcome.