The Peaceful Village

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Pub Date 28 May 2022 | Archive Date 05 Jul 2022

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During the German occupation of France, nestled in the lush, verdant countryside in the Haute-Vienne department of central France was the peaceful village of Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a community where villagers woke to the medley of nature’s songs: roosters crowing, birds chirping, cats purring, and cows shuffling out to pasture. The people who lived there loved the tranquil nature of their beautiful home, a tranquility that existed year-round. Even with the German occupation and Oradour-sur-Glane being incorporated as part of Vichy France, Oradour – the village with cafés, shops, and a commuter tram to Limoges – remained relatively untouched by the stress of the occupation.

While Oradour enjoyed the lack of German presence, twenty-two kilometers to the northwest in Limoges, the Germans were reacting with increasing cruelty to organized attacks on their soldiers by the armed resistance organization Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP). Headed by Georges Guingouin, the Limoges FTP was considered the most effective of the French Resistance groups. Guingouin’s missions fueled the German military to kill and incarcerate in concentration camps anyone perceived as supporters or sympathizers of the Resistance.

Up until the middle of 1944, the German anti-partisan actions in France never rose to the level of brutality or number of civilian casualties that had occurred in eastern Europe. A little before the Allies landed in Normandy, that changed, when German officers stationed on the Eastern Front were transferred to France. It was then that FTP’s increasing efforts to disrupt German communications and supply lines was met with disproportionate counter attacks, involving civilians. Guingouin’s response was to target German officers. When Guingouin set his sights on two particular German officers, all hell broke loose.

Based on actual events as told by survivors, The Peaceful Village is the story of the unfolding of the events that led up to one of the biggest World War II massacres on French soil. But it is not simply a story of Nazi brutality and the futility of war, it is a story of love. The love of family. The love of neighbor. The love of country. Compassion and courage burn from the pages as the villagers’ stories come alive. Written by the international bestselling author of The Seven Year Dress, Paulette Mahurin, this book is an homage to the villagers who lived and loved in Oradour-sur-Glane.

During the German occupation of France, nestled in the lush, verdant countryside in the Haute-Vienne department of central France was the peaceful village of Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a community...

Advance Praise

"There are many uplifting parts where it was impossible not to smile, not to feel the compassionate heart from which the author writes, and this coupled with the story's factual time line made this one of the best books I've read in a long time. One I won't forget. Goodreads reviewer

A masterfully written narrative that isn’t just about Nazi hateful acts but also really highlights the love of family, friendship, and country. I absolutely loved this book. Goodreads reviewer

"There are many uplifting parts where it was impossible not to smile, not to feel the compassionate heart from which the author writes, and this coupled with the story's factual time line made this...

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ISBN 9798832609799
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Featured Reviews

A very good, perfect length, historical fiction. Having read so many books lately of around 400 pages it is refreshing to read a book with less pages but just as much content, excitement and depth as a long read.

A story based on actual events this is a very interesting read, it is so emotional and real yet so sad, so painful. To think what a quiet rural village went through, what families went through at the hands of such cruel and brutal people is something I can't comprehend.

This is a gripping tale, flows in a sense that you can understand what was going on at the time and although it is a hard subject the author makes it so that you can read it easily. It is a story that should be read by all as it is so poignant.

I highly recommend this book and will be checking out more books by this author soon.

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One of the most heart wrenching true stories of WW2 I have read in a long time. A story that truly needs to be read by everyone. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes this genre. Thank you to netgalley for letting me give an honest review of this book.

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An engaging historical fiction set in France during WWII. I enjoyed the plot and the story was well paced. The characters are likable and interesting. Highly recommended.
Thank you to Paulette Mahurin, NetGalley and the publisher for the arc of this book

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The Peaceful Village is chilling, somber, and well executed. Paulette Mahurin has done an excellent job at allowing the reader into a time we would like to ingore and should not ever forget. Well done.

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I'm a great fan of historical World War novels. I truly enjoyed this book, Stories of various villagers in Oradour were told in an authentic manner by Paulette Mahurin. This was France in 1940's, a civilized nation. What the French police did - Thousands of Jews, men and women, were rounded up put in trucks, and sent to camps. Parents shoved into trucks when children were left in the streets with outstretched arms.

I loved the story about the Oradour sur Glane village, a wonderful peace-loving place for all who call it home at the time of WW2. Oradour was a place of safety where the Germans rarely entered for bloodletting. Sixty six year old Jean Desourteaux was Oradour's mayor as well as doctor of this peaceful Village. The war was happening far from Oradour.

While Oradour-sur-Glane enjoyed calmness and the lack of German presence, twenty-two kilometers to the northwest in Limoges, the Germans were reacting with increasing cruelty to organized attacks on their soldiers by the armed resistance organization Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP).

The villagers least expected the SS would enter thier vibrant pastoral homes but they were not immune from ravages of war. On hitting the 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division, two men from the German Lines were hurt, Kampfe's death, who was not just a highly decorated Sturmbannfuhrer, who had been awarded the knight's cross of the Iron Cross, the highest award in the German military, he was Diekmann's personal friend. Karl Gerlach, Orderly officer and Commander's Kidnapping, having blame pointing the Village and wanting revenge by Diekmann, the very reason the SS stormed down the streets of Oradour - sur - Glane. Guingouin was one target for the Nazis, a man the SS sought as priority capture and kill.

Loved the Character Father Chapelle and Marquerite who were closely associated as Oradour's citizens. Well researched events of the Great war in Europe. I would rate it 5 star!

I just reviewed the book, The Peaceful Village by Paulette Mahurin. Thanks to the author and publisher, Paulette Mahurin and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book for my honest review.

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🌄🏘🏡Historical fiction that resonates in the heart😢

The Peaceful Village was a riveting page-turner for me. This fictionalized account really set the scene for a senseless massacre brought on by pride, deceit and indifferent cruelty. The author brings to life the brave and doomed villagers and their idyllic life in a peaceful community destined for annihilation. It's an excellent illustration of how war draws the innocent along with the combatants into its horrors.

I was unaware of this side of the German occupation of Vichy France during World War II and I am grateful to author Paulette Mahurin and her translator for telling the story of Oradour-sur-Glane and its wanton destruction in such a readible and relatable manner.

Thanks to BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for sharing a complimentary advance copy of the book; this is my voluntary and honest opinion.

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The village is far away from the concentrations of Nazi’s in the metropolitan areas of France. The village of Oradour enjoys the ambiance of pre-war France. There is no occupation force and the area is a haven for Jews being sheltered by the local populace. The primarily Catholic area spreads the families out through the countryside and all is well.

Someone within the area has been tortured and reveals the large number of Jewish refugees hidden within the surrounding homes. Retaliation is carried out by a small group of the Resistance who decided to eliminate two offending German officers. This triggered swift German retaliation as the entire village down to the dogs is wiped out in a slaughter.

Why did these people have to die that close to the end of the war?

I was gripped by the narrative and the efforts the local people took to remain neutral during WW II. Living a quiet life while the war raged all around them was the best of circumstances. I thought the Resistance leaders did not adequately think through the consequences of executing two German officers with the resultant carnage. Why was it necessary to kill them?

The author presented a very good description of a quiet area in war-torn France. The actions of a few resulted in the death of many. Rated at 4.5 sad stars – CE Williams

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In the first half of this book, Paulette Mahurin paints a wonderfully evocative picture of Oradour-sur-Glane, an idyllic rural village in the centre of France whose citizens are very aware of but largely untouched by the Nazi occupation of their country. The people of the village and surrounding farms go about their business quietly, with a true sense of community and real compassion for their neighbours. Not far away, in the town of Limoges, the Nazi occupiers are becoming increasing infuriated by attacks on their soldiers by the armed French resistance. After a high-ranking, highly-decorated Nazi officer is kidnapped and executed by the resistance, the occupiers are determined to exact a terrible revenge on, and make an horrific example of, an unfortunate community. On the flimsiest of evidence, they pinpoint Oradour-sur-Glane as a shelter for the resistance fighters.

The second half of the book is a harrowing account of the events which resulted in the name of Oradour-sur-Glane becoming synonymous with the evil depravity of the Nazi regime. In heartbreaking detail, Paulette Mahurin describes the murderous brutality with which a Waffen SS detachment metes out a barbaric punishment for the military actions of the resistance to the innocent men, women and children of the village. But even amongst this scarcely imaginable terror, there are stories of love, sacrifice, bravery and survival against all the odds.

This is a powerful, heartbreaking telling of the true story of Oradour-sur-Glane. It is an important book which deserves to be read as widely as possible as a constant reminder of why the world must not allow the likes of the Nazis to darken the planet ever again.

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A powerful story, simply written but mesmerizing in its character development and location descriptions. The massacre of the people and the destruction of the village of Oradour-Sur-Glan came about as a lack of communication between the Nazis and their headquarters. Chilling and real, this is recommended reading for its insight into the brutal history of the Nazi regime.

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Many thanks to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for the opportunity to read an advance copy Paulette Mahurin's The Peaceful Village.

An important, little known, piece of history respectfully written. Heartbreaking.

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Marguerite lives on her carrot farm with her husband and other family in the beautiful, peaceful village of Oradour, France. During WWII, this quiet and peaceful village had not yet been threatened or occupied as much as other parts of France and Europe by the nazis, despite the Vichy accepting German rule, until a German capture that had gone wrong had brought forth the brutal nazi regime (no, I will NEVER capitalize the word ‘nazi’) to this peaceful ‘untouched’ by war, town, just before the allies landed in Normandy.

As Marguerite was approaching menopause, the gruel of farming without enough hands was getting to her physically and mentally. She went to church one Sunday and discovered the clergy could use some well needed office help and approached her understanding husband asking for time away from working the farm and by taking up the offer to work for the church office. When she discovered a horrifying piece of paper in a book, as she was tidying the rectory, she approached Father Chapelle, asking if anyone else shared the office, ultimately, showing him what she’d found in a book as she was organizing a bookshelf. Their eye contact established a mutual understanding that they were both on the side against the nazis, when the Father let her know that he was part of the resistance helping place Jewish families where he could. Marguerite’s sympathetic and good nature led her to helping out the church by delivering secret messages, food and clothing where she could.

All was calm, but Marguerite had a foreboding feeling in her stomach, and it wasn’t long before the SS butchers rounded up the whole village in retaliation for the resistance killing one of their higher up murderous high rank nazi leaders. It was first the resistance who made a fatal mistake by letting another of their captured nazis escape, who made it back to headquarters and lied about what happened to him in this innocent village.

Mahurin tells a gripping story in such detail, it’s as though we are there witnessing the action. She paints a picture of this blissful town full of compassionate, loving, neighborly people going on with their business as though the rest of France had nothing to do with them in their sacred untouched perimeters, and just as the serenity turns to hell on earth, she equally writes of the pain, brutality, butchering of innocent mankind because of one SS trying to cover his ass by lying about his attack saying it had taken place in Oradour – when it did not! This lie became the war that wiped out an entire peaceful village in one day.

Based on true events as told by survivors, one of biggest WWII massacres that ever took place on French soil. The expensive price of human life paid for letting one of those heinous, murderous nazis escape capture. The author never disappoints in her gripping true tales of some of the true horrors that innocent people endured under the brutal tyranny of Hitler and his nazi evil regime.

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I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and thank her, NetGalley, and the author for this opportunity.
I have been following the author over the years, have checked her blog on occasions, and have read many positive reviews of her novels. I am sure that several of her novels are on my e-reader already, and after reading this one, I will make sure I locate them and put them on my “sooner-rather-than-later” to-be-read list. This is a novelised account of a real event that took place during WWII, one that I didn’t know anything about before I read the novel, but I will never forget now. I don’t hesitate to recommend this book to all readers, those who love fiction and those who prefer non-fiction, as it should be read. Due to the events that take place, this is not an easy read (it is hard, harrowing, and emotional), so I would recommend caution to readers who are not in the right place or frame of mind to read about such subjects.
It is impossible not to think about the war and its victims these days, and that makes this narration more poignant and urgent than ever. We should never forget what happened because we all know what happens to those who forget. I will not spend too much time on the plot, as the book description provides plenty of information, and anybody interested can research what is known of what happened on that day, the 10th of June of 1944 in Oradour-sur-Glane. The author includes a disclaimer, where she explains that the book is a work of fiction, and other than the historical characters included, the rest is her attempt at fitting what is known to have happened into a narrative. Her research shines through, and, to clarify matters even more, together with her disclaimer, the author includes a Glossary of Terms and Historical Figures, a list of the German military ranks used in the novel, of the organizations and political groupings, and of the locations, and also the translation of a few German terms used in the book (when the translation is not included in the text itself) right at the beginning of the book. There is also a postnote that explains what happened afterwards, to the village and at the trial of a few of those involved in the onslaught.
Mahurin manages to recreate Oradour for us. Through the locations, the characters, and the events that take place there, we get a good sense of what a lovely place it was, a peaceful village in the German-controlled part of France, where life goes on almost undisturbed, although there are also things happening that remind the inhabitants of the war, and there is a sense of dread hanging over the proceedings. The beauty is in the detail: we see characters going about their jobs and their lives (the doctor, who is also the mayor, looks after his patients, and so does one of his sons, also a doctor; the priest is involved in welfare and also tries to help families in need [Jewish families escaping the Nazi regime among others]; we have mechanics; we have farmers; we have teachers; we have children; we have hard-working mothers...) and we have people who know each other and who do what they can to help others, their family, their neighbours, their friends, and also the newcomers who need help. This is an ensemble novel, and although we perhaps learn more about some characters than others (like Marguerite, who is exhausted by farm work —among other things— and manages to find her perfect role in helping the priest with his church work and his other tasks, or the mayor, the priest, and even others who don’t live in the village, like the head of the Maquis du Limousin...), this is a novel about a community, where everybody has a part to play, as must have been the case at the real Oradour. The shock of that normality, where nothing out of the ordinary had happened, being interrupted by the senseless massacre, has a devastating effect upon us, and it is not surprising to read how the people in the village were totally stunned and unable to believe what was going on.
The author writes beautifully about the place, the people, their lives, and their customs, and despite the horrific tragedy that eventually unfolds, there are incredibly beautiful passages as well. Plenty of happy and inspiring moments fill up the pages of this novel, and, the choice of a third-person omniscient point of view works very well for the story, as it allows us to see and understand how the different characters feel and what their lives are like, and it also shows us some of the events that preceded the massacre (although the reasons, as the author explains, have never been fully explained, and there are only a variety of conjectures historians have proposed over the years). We do see and follow what the Germans do as well, and the third-person narrative plays a pretty neutral observer’s role, not overdramatising events because it is totally unnecessary. It leaves it up to the readers to make their own minds up, experience the events, and feel the emotions. And that makes it even more moving and poignant.
A couple of samples of the writing:
May moved along with goodwill radiating warmth through Oradour like a hot bath soothing a stiff body on a frigid day.
Then he thought of the plans he’d heard to make the ruins into an untouched museum. To leave everything as is. Wistfully, words flowed from him like a feather floating through air when he said, “That magical place is a reminder of the living people who lived there in harmony.”
This is not a mystery novel, and we know what is going to happen (what really happened, not the details, but the bare facts), so the ending of the story is not, in itself, surprising, but I felt it was perfect. There was a hopeful note, but a somewhat bittersweet one, as the postnote reminds us of how many crimes of war are never solved, properly investigated, or even truly acknowledged.
I have already recommended the novel to all readers (with a note of warning), in particular to those interested in stories set in WWII in France, both fictional and non-fictional; to those who enjoy reading beautifully written books with a historical theme, and to anybody who likes to learn about real events, especially those that affect us all and should never be forgotten. I was inspired to read more about the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, and discovered that 19 of the victims were Spaniards (11 of them children), refugees who had escaped from Spain during the Civil War to avoid the fascist reprisals by Franco’s regime. After that, it felt even more personal, if that were possible. What else can I tell you? Read it, if at all you can. I have learned something I won’t forget and discovered a writer I will carry on reading for a long time to come.

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I rarely choose to review independently published fiction as I find the quality of such to be hit and miss. But when I saw the subject matter of The Peaceful Village on NetGalley, I knew I had to take the chance. I can’t remember how or when I came across the story of Oradour-sur-Glane – possibly on a news website – but I’d heard enough to recognize the location’s name. Oradour-sur-Glane in France, much like Lidici in the modern-day Czech Republic, is a permanent memorial to the murder of inhabitants by the Nazis.

This book focuses on a woman named Marguerite and the work she does at a local church in the community. It’s no spoiler to say she is one of the few survivors. She would later testify on the events of 10th June 1944. The first half of the novel looks at the six months leading up to that day. These chapters convey the sense of normalcy, as much as there can be, in the so-called “Free France” aka Vichy France. Because of its location, the village was essentially ignored by the Nazis. Many villagers were convinced that “It won’t happen here,” whenever they heard of bad events happening elsewhere. Perhaps it was naivete, or maybe they hoped if they said it enough it would stay true. Readers not only read the thoughts of Marguerite; we also meet the mayor, the doctor, and the clergy among others including refugees. We also get scenes with various Nazis, including Klaus Barbie himself.

The second half contains the events of the afternoon of June 10th. It begins with the order for retaliation for the kidnap of two Nazi officers and the subsequent murder of one. The other escapes and, according to the text, names Oradour-sur-Glane as the location of his abduction. What follows is the rounding up of the villagers, ostensibly for an identification check, and then Marguerite’s perspective of the massacre. Is it easy reading? Not exactly. But I don’t think it should be. What I later discovered is that some of the words author Paulette Mahurin has the characters speak ARE actual quotes from survivors. I was surprised at how much did appear to have been taken from factual reports.

If there’s a downside to the book it’s that I would’ve loved to have seen a bibliography or a list of sources. Oradour-sur-Glane should NOT be forgotten, and I think such a list would help readers learn more.

Disclaimer: Although I received an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley, the opinions above are my own.

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This is based on true events and centers around a village called Oradour in France, where all the villagers feel somewhat safe despite the war carrying on around them.

Marguerite Rouffanche is forty-seven years old and a wife and mother. Her husband, Simon, is a carrot farmer. Marguerite feels listless about her life and helping her husband. She wishes to do something more and makes a plan to get a job.

Stopping at the church to give a confession, she is approached by Father Chapelle who offers her a job at the church. It is here that her snooping she encounters an article hidden inside a book. From her confessions, Father Chapelle takes her into confidence to ask for her help. He is one of a few that make up the Resistance and take in Jewish families to hide and find them safe passage out.

Marguerite believed the stories as hogwash, after all; Oradour is an idyllic place and far removed from the occupation carried out.

A mistake made will bring Nazis to Oradour.

It took me a little while to get into this book but it didn't take me long to start turning the pages. I grew up in a small town, so I did get caught up in the village atmosphere of camaraderie. Parts were very disturbing to read but the ending was one of hope.

I received an ARC from NetGalley via BooksGoSocial and I voluntarily reviewed this book.

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The Peaceful Village takes one of the most notorious murderous acts of the Nazi occupation of France and weaves a story around the horror of the bare facts that means that, by the time the so-called reprisal action against Oradour sur Glane takes place, the reader feels that s/he has lived alongside the villagers in the weeks before the murders took place. Readers may have mixed views about a novel being written about such a tragedy. However, the novel’s technique to introduce the reader to both victims and survivors and to render each group as real three-dimensional people means that what can often be rendered as simply yet another war crime - if appalling in its scale and inhumanity - is made real. In this way, perhaps, the need for us all t9 learn from history is reinforced. This is a story that cries out not to be forgotten. Ms Mahurin does the world a service in this retelling. Strongly recommended.

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