Cover Image: The Girl from the Channel Islands

The Girl from the Channel Islands

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Member Reviews

A beautiful story of survival.
WWII on the coast of France is the setting for the historical fiction The Girl from the Channel Islands.  This story is based on a true story which was incredibly interesting.  
There is a lot of history within the story as well love stories.
Hedy, a young Jewish girl, is the main character.   I really went back and forth on my thoughts about her.  In the end, I came around to find her very brave.
I always find it hard to read about the atrocities that went on.  
Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the opportunity to read this book for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own.
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4.5 stars

My immediate thoughts posted to Goodreads right after finishing The Girl from the Channel Islands:

Normally, I would take some time, collect my thoughts and the broken pieces of my heart from the floor and THEN sit down to type out all the thoughts swirling around in my brain so you all would be able to understand it. But NOT today. OH NOOOOOO.... lucky you, today I'm just gonna pour my little heart out immediately after finishing The Girl from the Channel Islands by Jenny Lecoat because I just really need to share how I'm feeling right NOW!

So, how am I feeling about it? What exactly DID I think about this little nugget of a historical fiction novel set during WWII about a young Jewish woman stuck on some tiny little island with some Nazi soldiers??? I'm so glad you asked...

Where to begin...

Let's travel back in time to the Channel Islands during the year 1940, where young Jewish girl Hedy Bercu has been living after fleeing Vienna. Her only real friend on the island is a young man named Anton and the Germans have taken control of the island.

Kinda makes you sad already, right? She's already escaped the Nazis once... can she do it again?

No. The answer is NO. NO ONE is escaping the island... except maybe Anton and a poor possibly drunk widowed fisherman, but that's not the part of the story we're discussing today.

So how do I express to you what I DO want to talk about without giving away too much...?

Basically, Hedy ends up at the mercy of a woman she doesn't particularly care for and a German officer who she may be falling in love with as she tries to hide right under the Nazi's noses as a translator/thief and it's INTENSE people!!! That's all I think I can actually say without spoilers. So...yeah.

I cried, I laughed, I held my breath for way too long and felt a little dizzy. So if you're the type of person who likes to put yourself through a lot of emotional turmoil and possibly be happy (but not TOO happy) in the end, then I definitely recommend this book.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin for the digital ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review and opinions.

My thoughts after having a little bit to really put my head back together:
Not once have I ever thought about what it must’ve been like to be a part of the Nazi army against your will. I knew on a very superficial way that this happened. I’ve even read books where a character was called up to fight with the Germans, but it was always someone who didn’t really matter to the main story… so it was easy not to care.

In The Girl from the Channel Islands, we’re forced to watch as a man who has been drafted into the army for the Germans falls in love with a Jewish girl who challenges his complicity and his fierce denial of the atrocities happening to so many people at the hands of his “side”. That same girl’s best friend falls in love with a local island girl and then is also forced into the army on the side of the Nazis. Not only do we see the conflicting, damaging emotional states of these men, but we’re invited to see the war from the view of the women who love them.

Hedy and Dorothea fight to survive in a world that no longer wants them. They’re starved, hidden away, and treated as vermin. Yet they never lose hope (at least not completely). Not even after the war has ended do they give up their fight. They do what they can to learn of the fates of the men who never wanted a part of the losing side to begin with. I can’t help but wonder if their fates were somehow tied with their parts in the war. One with a cushy island assignment and one who was forced to actually fight.

This was a very bittersweet read that I’m so glad took me on the journey it did. It’s definitely going to stick with me for a very long time!
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Love and bravery at a time of war is never easy. That certainly proved true when it came to Hedy Bercu and the man she loved. Hedy was a young Jewish girl who fell in love. This loved proved tragic time and again. For starters, she had to flee Vienna during the Anschluss while World War II was raging. Even though she managed to flee, she was indeed captured by the Germans.

Things were beyond difficult - if not impossible - for Hedy. However, serving as a translator helped her to hide among the Germans. However, her love affair might prove to be the cause of her death and capture. The reason why is the man she was desperately in love with,, and this man was a German officer. Their love was tested time and again, and loyalty and bravery truly came into play. Their love was impossible, no doubt, and their choice to persevere proved dangerous more than once.

Not only did they have to fight for their love, but hunger become a dire factor. Hedy was blessed with good friends for her protection and safety. This is one of the best historical fiction stories I have read. Forbidden love is never easy, but this book showed how love truly triumphed over the greatest of difficulties. 

Many thanks to Graydon House and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
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We all know that the time period where Hitler and the Nazi Regime were taking over Europe, and the surrounding territories, was a very challenging time for the Jews, as well as anyone in the areas they were invading.  With all the historical accounts of what happened, and even works of historical fiction based on these real events, we get a look into what it was really like for people.  This is one such book, based on real people who lived during this time in the Channel Islands, where we get a glimpse of what they went through. 
The Channel Islands are British occupied islands that were taken over by Hitler's Regime during the Nazi Occupation.  These islands were closer to France so as the British were trying to  defend the mainland, they let go of the Islands, and Hitler took the opportunity to take them over.  This book follows the story of Hedy, a Jew who had fled her home in Austria during the Nazi insurgence. We also meet another young woman named Dory, who is an islander that falls in love, and marries Hedy's best friend Anton.  Anton is eventually forced to fight in the war and must go away, and despite their differences, Hedy and Dory must come together to help each other survive during the most challenging time of their lives.  The little help they receive actually comes from someone who is technically with the "enemy."  Hedy meets a high ranking officer from the German army named Kurt, and they fall dangerously in love.  Kurt does everything in his power to help the two girls survive the tragedy around them, and together the three of them battle against insurmountable odds. 
The most alluring thing about this book, to me at least, is that it is based on the true stories of these people, and we get a glimpse into what their lives may have been like. I think that the author having her family roots in the islands is fascinating also, considering I didn't even know anything about the islands or where they are located until I read this book. Definitely worth the read!
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First of I  want to say a  huge  thank you to the publisher  Graydon House -HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) ,  the author Jenny Lecoat , and to NetGalley for inviting me to join the blog tour for this book as well as letting me read and review it. As soon as I say it I knew that once again I would say yes because I love reading historical Fiction that is based on events that took place doing WW2 , the only down side to that is that it has to do be done in a way that it fellows these four things that I look for which is :

1: author has done their research

2: they bring their characters and their settings to life 

3: they make you feel everything that the characters feel 

4: and by the end of the book your a emotional wreck

And with this book it checked everything off that list, in fact this is the second historical fiction WW 2 based book that I've read this year which means its one of my favorite books. The book is well writing and makes you feel all the emotions that the characters feel, she also brings to life the day to day life of the characters and what they went though,their bravery in the face of danger , of friends made and of lives lost as well as loved ones, it also brings to light how the some of the Germans treated the Jews and the people of the Channel Islands , and how one German was different then all of the rest that he would do anything to help the girl that he was in love with even if that meant his own death. So if your looking for something that feel the all the emotions and  a story  that's filled with tension, suspense, revenge, friendship, love, kindness then you need to check this one out.
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This novel is loosely based on a true story of resistance, heroism, friendship, and love that is hard to put down!

Hedy Bercu is a young Jewish girl who had been living and working in the Channel Islands when World War II begins.  When the island is invaded by the German forces, everyone’s life slowly begins to change.

Hedy has to register as a Jewish resident with the authorities.  However, since she is bilingual and can speak and write German and English, she is hired to work for the German military in one of their offices.  While there, she meets a German officer who is secretly not supportive of the Nazi regime.  They clandestinely begin to see each other and fall in love.  But as the war drags on, each of them fear that their forbidden relationship may be discovered…

Thank you to Net Galley, Harlequin Books, and author Jenny Lecoat for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC of this historical fiction book!
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It's 1940 and we are transported to the Channel Islands where Hedy Bercu, who fled the Nazis 2 years previously from Vienna, finds herself being singled out for her Jewish background under German occupation on the island of Jersey. With her English and German speaking capabilities, she lands a job working for the Germans as a translator. She finds herself falling in love with a German soldier and he helps her knowing both of their lives are in danger as a result. The situation gets more and more dire. 

I found out after that Hedy was a real person and this book is based on a true story. I can't even imagine what she, or anyone in that time period must have gone through. How much courage it took just to survive each day. That being said, the book shared a lot of plot / information but faltered a bit on the character development. Despite the awful situation, I was unable to feel connected to the characters. My favorite character was Dory. Despite Hedy being quite mean to her, she remains loving, strong and courageous. 

Kurt is a German soldier who doesn't agree with what is being done but continues because he thinks he doesn't have a choice. I always struggle with this perspective because that's how such heinous acts happen; with people who feel they don't have a choice and just go along with what's happening. I feel that I'm not in a position to judge because until you walk a mile in their shoes, what do you know? But it just doesn't sit right with me. 

This book would be enjoyed by readers who enjoy historical fiction. 

I give this book 3.5/5 rounded up to 4.

Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing and NetGalley for the eGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. 

This is a non spoiler review, because you as reader need to read this book. Also, I feel sometimes I have in the past gave away to much of the plot line. This has diminished the pleasure for would be readers

THE GIRL FROM THE CHANNEL ISLANDS is a riveting unforgettable tale of bravery, friendship, and love. Based on a true story of a young Jewish girl named Hedwig Bercu (Hedy) during World War II.

Jenny Lecoat debut novel has propulsive storyline, offering both drama and historical authenticity to appeal to anyone interested in WWll historical fiction.

Set in the English Channel Islands, 1940. Hedy is a Jew who recently escaped Austrian Anschluss to the island of Jersey.
Leaving behind the horrors of Vienna Austria Hedy Berkus arrives to the shores of Jersey, located in England’s British Isles. Fleeing for her life because of her Jewish Heritage. Hoping she is safe far away from the long arm of.Nazi regime.
Everything comes crashing down when in June 1940. The inhabitants of the Channel Island of Jersey can only watch as the German army invades. 
The invading force takes complete control of their island without any opposition to stop them. They have been abandoned by the British, and forced to fend for themselves. The locals of Jersey are resilient people endure a lengthy occupation that will last to the very end of the war. 

Hedy Bercu nightmare has become her reality, again she finds her nationality under persecution. This is immersive novel that show the local of Jersey island as strong willed and courageous people. Hedy is a wonderfully developed character, and the author seamlessly writing flows perfectly as the storyline develops. She is brave and driven by inner strength as she tries to hide her identity an takes a job at the German headquarters as a translator. When her paths cross with the German officer Kurt, nothing prepares both of them. The romance is done in a way that doesn’t overshadowed the true theme of the novel, but you will your heart captivated by it. 

The Girl from the Channel Islands by Jenny Lecoat’s is compelling book 
It will significant interest those readers who enjoy World War II based historical fiction.
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We meet Hedy and Kurt who happens to be a German solder. Hedy manages to evade capture and together with her friend Dorothea try to survive til the end of the war.
 It’s a love story  told with a different perspective. It was descriptive and I enjoyed the story. I can’t help but feel it was just like any other WW2 book,I need to take a big break from them
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the early copy
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This was a most enjoyable read. I have read a lot of WWII novels but never one on the Chanel Islands. The author has a wonderful writing style that pulls you in where you come to care about the characters and their sacrifices during the occupation. The entire story is believable, realistic and you can feel the hunger, picture the soldiers and envision the destruction. Even the run in the stockings and the pig. 
Definately one of the better war novels I have read. If you like historical fiction, you will enjoy this one. 
I was given the opportunity to read an ARC from Harlequin and NetGalley for my honest unbiased review. This one comes in with 5 stars
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I had certain expectations going into the book and knowing it was a historical fiction novel set during world war two. I was surprised I didn't get the heavy baggage I'm used to so that was nice. In fact, I'm tempted to say this felt more like a romance novel, which isn't bad. I think it set up a good storyline and it made me curious as to how many relationships like this may have existed and how people coped, after all, as Hedy mentions it, you're "sleeping with the enemy". One of the characters names Dorothea grew on me and she actually ended up being my favorite. Had no complaints, an easy read and you get immersed in the relationships
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With thanks to NetGalley for an early copy in return for an honest review.

I would give the book 3.5 stars, but rounded up to 4 stars. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, particularly books set in WW2 and I always appreciate when I am able to learn something new from the book. This book is set on the island of Jersey, in the Channel Islands, and the story of how they were abandoned by the British Government and occupied by the Germans for five years. It was fascinating to learn about the resistance activities of the island's inhabitants through the stories of Hedy and Dorothea. Will definitely be doing additional research on Jersey during WW2.
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This is the kind of book that grabs my interest quickly and makes me want to do more research right away. The fictionalized story took place on the island of Jersey, one of the Channel Islands who to this day are loyal to Britain while having their own currency and government. In 2015 my husband and I chose to visit the Channel Islands, drawn there primarily by my interest in the history of the Second World War as it affected these Islands. The British made the decision to withdraw all forces from the Islands at the onset of the war basically leaving the door open for the Germans to walk right in and take over. It could have been done without a shot being fired, but somehow the Germans failed to get the message leading to bombings in the harbours and death of locals. Through the years of Occupation, the Germans always believed the British would try to get the islands back and they built extensive fortifications around the coasts that can still be seen and explored to this day. During our visit there we learned a lot about what life was like, visited the underground hospitals, stayed in the hotel mentioned in the novel where the Germans had been. We were able to speak to an old woman who had been evacuated from the island at the age of five and to an older gentleman who had been a young teen who stayed throughout the occupation. He spoke of the starvation that both islanders and Germans faced as the war dragged on and told how they would never have survived without the Red Cross boxes, many of which came from Canada.

Although this story is fictionalized, it tells the story of real individuals and is extremely well researched. It was originally published in Europe under the title Hedy's War. Hedwig Bercu Goldenberg was a Romanian Jew who came to the Channel Islands to escape the persecution Jews were facing in Europe. As the novel begins, the evacuation of many Islanders to England is past and Hedy's employers are also gone leaving her on her own. Her heritage made it so that she could not go with them and the bombing of the harbour is underway. She has one friend, Anton Weber, a man from Austria who is also fairly new to the Islands and who works as a baker. He becomes involved with a local girl, Dorothea Le Brocq, who he eventually married just as he is conscripted by the Occupying forces. In the novel, the reader gets a real feeling of how such a marriage would have been treated by locals.

Hedy is forced to register with a member of the local States (government), and the islander refused to accept her explanation that she was not Jewish, only her step-father was, thus she ends up with papers labelled with a red J. Dorothea suggests she apply to work as a translator for the Germans and although Hedy hates the idea, her need for income gave her little choice. Upon being hired she decided to steal petrol coupons as a form of resistance and as a Mitzvah, gives them to a local doctor so he can visit his patients. Through her job Hedy also meets Kurt, a German officer, also conscripted and certainly not a Nazi. Their story as it unfolds is fascinating and terrifying. The accuracy of the details provided by the author add areal depth to the tale. None of the characters are perfect. They have their flaws (as do we all), but the main characters all chose to resist in their own way.

Some reviewers found cause to critique because Dorothea is painted as flighty and Hedy is at times seen as arrogant. I think it is important to remember while reading that Hedy's life was always at risk once the Germans arrived so any of what she perceived as lack of discretion on another's part would have been terrifying. She had to stay out of the limelight. Also, although the bones of the story are true, it was impossible for the author to know exactly what the relationships were like. What is true is that both women were in relationships with men who were perceived as enemy and when Hedy's life was in imminent danger, Dorothea hid her for 18 months in her home sharing starvation rations with her. As a reader I found this book very hard to put down.

As soon as I finished reading I started searching the internet. I came across pictures of both women and lots of information including that Dorothea Le Brocq Weber was posthumously named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem and was also honoured by the UK. You can read more about it here:

I would highly recommend this book to others and, once one can safely travel again would recommend the Channel Islands as a great place to visit!

Many thanks to #NetGalley and the publisher Harlequin for allowing me to read an advanced copy. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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Screenwriter, Jenny Lecoat’s debut novel, The Girl From The Channel Islands, to be published February 2, 2021, is inspired by the true story of Hedwig Bercu and Dorothea Le Brocq. In 2016, Dorothea was posthumously awarded the Hero of the Holocaust Medal for acts of courage and self-sacrifice to help Jewish people. 

Born in Jersey, Lecoat masterfully brings Jersey alive for her readers as she clearly knows the coast, tide patterns, the layout of the island and the little-known backstreet accesses. Despite being a native, Lecoat has written a neutral account of her island community struggling under the force of Nazi oppression. Missing from her writing is the vilification of the Germans and the veneration of the British. It’s a refreshing outlook as we all know there is both good and evil on both sides of the war. Highlighting Kurt’s (a real-life figure) actions, Lecoat brings to light that ordinary people are capable of cruelty or courage depending on what choice they make. 

Lecoat writes about a Romeo and Juliet forbidden romance between Hedy, a Jew in hiding, and a German officer, Kurt Neumann. The plot is full of stolen moments, emotion, intrigue, and danger. As you can imagine, their relationship is a dangerous one, and the consequences of being caught are a matter of life and death. Avoiding capture for 18 months is a true test of the human spirit. Hedy’s acts of resilience were phenomenal; she was starving, weak and yet she kept going. This love against all odds story will maintain your interest. 
Wonderfully written and steeped in rich historical detail, this novel is of significant interest to historical fiction lovers and readers of WW2 based fiction. A five-star read.

*This book has previously been published as ‘Hedy’s War’ and ‘The Viennese Girl.’

I have read ‘The German Nurse’ also set in the Channel Islands during WW2, but this far surpasses my previous read in terms of characterization and its ability to maintain investment in the plot.
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I would like to give The Girl from the Channel Islands by Jenny Lecoat 3.5 stars but rounded up to 4 stars. This turned out to be a solid historical fiction novel about the inhabitants of Jersey in the Channel Islands, who were basically abandoned by the British government when German forces landed there and occupied the Islands during World War II from 1940 through 1945. 

The book's protagonist is Hedy Bercu, who has fled to Jersey two years prior to escape the Nazis there, only to be under their rule again. She tries to live below the radar as a much-needed translator for the Germans. She becomes involved with a German officer just as she and her only friend are struggling to survive and avoid starving to death. The plot was suspenseful and filled with tension. I felt the characterization was a bit flat. I didn't feel that I knew Hedy very well, and I wish her character had been developed more thoroughly.

I was not a fan of the book's structure because the narrative seemed choppy.  There were short paragraphs with many of them jumping ahead in time and then back-tracking to explain what had happened in the interim. 

I see that the author was born on Jersey, Channel Islands and her parents participated in resistance activity while living under German occupation. That gives her some real credibility in telling this story, which was both mesmerizing and terrifying. I am continually amazed at what people who lived through war were forced to endure and how many of them did so with courage and grace.

I will recommend this to readers who want to read World War II fiction that takes place in a unique setting.

Thank you to Graydon House, Harlequin and NetGalley for the digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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A story of life on the Channel Islands during World War 2.  The relationships built during a tough time in history.
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I enjoyed reading this book.  The characters were well developed and the book was easy to read and follow. I had not previously read anything about the Channel Islands during WWII.  This story shows what lengths one will go to in order to survive under difficult circumstances.  I was somewhat bothered by the relationship that developed between the main character and the German officer, although I'm sure it did happen during wartime.
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The Girl from the Channel Islands
A WWII Novel
by Jenny Lecoat
HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada)
Graydon House
Historical Fiction | Women's Fiction
Pub Date 02 Feb 2021   |   Archive Date 03 Mar 2021

New author for me.  I read a lot of historical fiction and I like this time period.  That being said, it was not the book for me.  I found the writing bland and I cannot recommend it.  Thanks to Harlequin and NetGalley for the ARC. 

3 star
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This is the kind of book I can really get into. There is the setting of the Channel Islands during the German occupation and the author builds the world so perfectly. There is an illicit affair, lies covered up, and the constant fear of being found out. And there is love and friendship.

Hedy is an immigrant from Austria, living on Jersey during the start of WWII. She is also Jewish. 

When the Germans invade, she is forced to register. But as the occupation goes on and there is no hope for work, she takes a translating job with the Germans. It is there that she meets Kurt, a German officer, and they begin a clandestine relationship. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, all the characters so fleshed out, and the setting of both place and time.

My thanks to Harlequin and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Based on the true story of a young Jewish woman Hedy Bercu, who escaped Vienna,and fled to the Channel Island of Jersey. She had a job, food on the table, and felt relatively safe. In 1940, with the German invasion upon them, Hedy and many of the other residents of the island discovered they couldn’t leave. They didn’t have enough boats or time to evacuate the whole population of Jersey, and many people were left behind. Hedy's employers did get away and Hedy stayed behind.  The Germans took over the island with no resistance. Jersey was cut off from England for five years. Life on Jersey was difficult.  The Germans had so many rules and everything was a punishable offense. The locals did everything they could to survive. Food, clothes, shoes, petrol, cars, fire wood and medical supplies all became scarce. No one seemed to care about the residents of this island. 

Hedy found work as a translator working for the Germans. As conditions worsened, she devised ways to steal from them. Hedy had a friend in Dory, whose husband was conscripted to serve in the German military, and her other friend was Kurt, a German soldier, who did not believe in the German cause. She and the other residents of Jersey perpetually lived on the edge. 

 This story reminded me of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and the German occupation of Guernsey Island.
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