The Peacock & The Fire
The Secret Photograph by Siobhan Curham is the most powerful historical novel that consumed my every waking moment.
The novel is mainly set in Paris during World War II. There are also chapters set in 1985. Paris’ lights dim under Nazi occupation. It was a time of great cruelty with round-ups happening daily.
Against this backdrop we meet a brave, young female photographer who one day captures an image that spoke to her heart. It inspired her to become part of the resistance. The Secret Photograph tells her story.
We witness the abominable cruelty. Life was not sacred but cruelly snuffed out in an instant by the Nazis. Children were not treasured but slaughtered. The resistance grew as people held on to the hope that one day the Nazis would be defeated and the lights of Paris would shine once more.
There were still those characters who were larger than life, incredibly brave and retained an air of joie de vivre as they flamboyantly protested against the Nazis, offering a solidarity with the Jews. The vitality of Peacock has been perfectly captured by the author. He springs to life from the pages of the book.
Lives were snuffed out in an instant – lives not only blighted today, but future hopes and dreams gone. “They are stealing people’s lives and dreams.”
When the Nazis rolled out of Paris, mob rule took over against the collaborators as hatred ruled – but the people needed hope not hatred to recover.
Siobhan Curham has created a marvellous, epic tale around a very dark time in history. The city of light was overtaken by darkness where fear and cruelty lived. It took bravery and determination to hold onto hope and build a brighter future.
I received a free copy via the publishers. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.
Nazi-occupied Paris, 1942. Clarisse clutches her camera as hundreds of police swarm the streets. Through her lens she spots a terrified brown-eyed little girl being carried screaming into a truck, her yellow star hanging crooked from her threadbare coat. Clarisse rushes forward to help, but the truck pulls away…
With a fake name written on the papers in her pocket, American photographer Clarisse Alarie knows the dangers of Paris better than most. Haunted by the sight of children being dragged away and carrying a photograph of the brown-eyed little girl everywhere she goes, Clarisse is desperate to make a difference. Meeting handsome resistance fighter Louis is her chance…
Louis introduces Clarisse to Café Capoulade and his underground network of brave men and women fighting tirelessly to end the occupation. Soon, Clarisse is risking her life every day. Taking photographs of the terror that has overcome the beautiful city, Clarisse follows members of the Gestapo and hides in plain sight in order to gather evidence of their terrible crimes.
But Clarisse soon learns of the over-crowded cattle cars leaving Paris carrying even the smallest children, bound for an unspeakably terrible place… Is she already too late to rescue the little girl with the brown eyes? And when Louis himself is arrested, will Clarisse risk everything the network has worked so hard for to save them both?
Set around true historical events that shook the world, The Secret Photograph is asweeping and utterly gripping wartime tale of courage and resilience in the face of unimaginable terror. Fans of The Alice Network, The Nightingale and Soraya M. Lane will be totally hooked.
Siobhan Curham is an award-winning author, ghost writer, editor and writing coach. She has also written for many newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Guardian, Breathe magazine, Cosmopolitan, Writers’ Forum, DatingAdvice.com, and Spirit & Destiny. Siobhan has been a guest on various radio and TV shows, including Woman’s Hour, BBC News, GMTV and BBC Breakfast. And she has spoken at businesses, schools, universities and literary festivals around the world, including the BBC, Hay Festival, Cheltenham Festival, Bath Festival, Ilkley Festival, London Book Fair and Sharjah Reading Festival.
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