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Torn Between Two Men in WW2 Occupied Paris - an Editorial Review of "Winter Pale"

Book Blurb:

A passionate historical romance full of suspense, guilty secrets and dilemmas, set in the captivating scene of WW2 Paris.

For 20-year-old Winter Pale, choices were never an option. Living in Paris, a British woman so far away from home, her only happiness is her childhood memories. When the city falls under Nazi occupation comes a time of struggle for survival; a time when love starts to bloom.

Winter’s heart is torn between two men, a French Resistance fighter and an SS major, both of which are definitely books not to be judged by their covers. They are mortal enemies, and Winter knows that if she chooses one side over the next, the consequences may be dire.

As her expectations are subverted, Winter realizes that she has to choose more than the man; it is her own path in life that she must decide on. She has lived all her life in a vicious circle of fault and guilt. Will she find the strength for the ultimate act of free will that will help her regain her self-esteem and confidence? What will the cost be for her emancipation?

If you’re a fan of Suite Francaise and Captain Corelli’s mandolin, you’ll keep on turning the pages in this moving wartime romantic adventure.

Author Bio:

MARINA KOULOURI comes from Greece and she started writing stories as a teenager. She loves languages and history, and she is interested in social matters, philosophy, and religion, all of which can be traced back to her writing.

She writes Historical Fiction and Historical Romance, featuring strong emotional histories with a moral dilemma leading her characters to the discovery of a painful, yet enlightening and liberating, truth about themselves.

Born and raised in the largest port city in Greece, she has learnt to appreciate diversity and distinguish the mainly human attributes in people from different backgrounds, a powerful uniting force.

A holder of two Bachelor's degrees and a Master's in Conflicts in Communication, she has published a novel and a short stories collection in Greek. She also writes for screen and stage. When she is not writing, she teaches English.

Editorial Review:

Once the Germans entered Paris, the city sank into silence. Once could almost hear the sadness slipping behind shocked eyes, while lips, marked by fear and awe, admired, in the triumphant parade, the conquerors' regularity, their uniforms, how robust they looked. And she was happy, for a moment she was happy that those who had been staring at them like pests would now be forced to realise others were in charge. Then, she woke up to the reality of what this defeat for the French would mean to them and she was terrified. And it terrified her just as much every time she heard those steel army loudspeakers sound, “Achtung! Achtung! The city has been occupied!”

Exquisitely heartbreaking, and a true work of art delving deep into the human heart and soul. In the same stark literary style of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina or Pasternak's characters of Zhivago, Laura, and Antipov, Ms Koulouri uses the human elements of betrayal, faith, family, marriage, societal demands, desire, political entanglements, and the search for absolution and acceptance all woven into the mix of the chaos of war.

And here it was, in this game of chess, where the king was literally a crippled piece, and even simple pawns seemed braver to her than him. Before that night when her life changed unexpectedly, Winter would say she was a pawn too, but she would say it more out of a sense of kinship to their sacrifices, when in fact she felt she had been nothing more than a king: forever hunted, desperate for other's protection, and taking only one step at a time, almost always in defense.

Winter Pale is a young innocent girl to start out with, a girl living in a romantic fantasy world, but all is changed in the blink of an eye when her mother thrusts her out into the bleak world of German-occupied Paris during WWII, more out a desperation to save her from a fate worse than death; yet Winter falls into self-doubt and worthlessness as she is caught between fighting for her survival and reliance upon two very different men – the passionate, fiery Resistance fighter René and the elegantly refined SS officer Frederick. Like a snowflake caught in a squall, Winter takes shelter at a local club, The Golden Doe, in the Place Pigalle district of Paris, a place packed with rich characters from the poetic piano player to the scowling club owner – all with their own secrets which ensnare Winter in a web of lies, deceit, and bringing her face to face with the devilish Gestapo officer, Blut.

People. People walked down the streets, just as Winter. People who lived for today uncertain of tomorrow, committed to the one thing in the morning and decided on another by nightfall; unable to be their own masters even in their resolution, because there was always something mightier, and it was called the unexpected.

This is a book about choices, about free will, and how this young girl blossoms from a poor abandoned nobody to a luminous singer on the club stage, the beautiful butterfly caught in the web of two men who violently oppose each other. René is desperate for her, yet his hidden agenda has more to do with his resistance against the Germans than any actual love for Winter, yet his magnetic pull on her is overwhelming and strange. Fred is the epitome of a German officer with his cigarette smoke swirling in the air and his cool calculated ease, yet his love for Winter, a foreigner, goes against everything he believes in as a member of the Reich; so much so that he begins to question his faith in anything.

All she knew was that, right now, she wanted to see the light again. And when she felt the breeze of fresh air on her face, its vigour bringing strength back to her limbs, she did not care about anything; little could she remember what René had said or not said, when and with what words he had left her, or how she had found her way back from this edge of the world where he had stranded her. She could breathe. It was nice to be able to breathe – one only understood the value of whatever they arbitrarily considered their own, when they were close to losing it. Winter was just beginning to realise the value of breathing.

Back and forth, Winter is desperate for her fairy tale ending but her own choices leave her spent and confused on so many occasions, even after becoming Fred's wife, her un-explainable attachment to René sends her reeling into a world of depression, self-doubt, and emptiness. Yet, even with knowing and understanding the ideals of Nazism, she continues to fall deeper in love with Fred, seeing beyond the uniform, seeing the man, while René's fervour and well-placed innuendos of the truth behind the Nazi's facade nearly drives Winter mad. And yet, she knows, love means sacrifice and ultimately, she must make the hardest decision of her life in order to truly embrace a future, yet her delay in truly giving in to love brings startling consequences which she will have to deal with for the rest of her life.

He enclosed his head in his hands, trying to exhale the burden of his frustration. Their fight had taken a turn for the worse and the consequences would not only be collective but also individual, because knowing held one responsible for their own actions. From his first steps in the army, Fred had learnt to be dedicated and dutiful; but the concept of duty presupposed the existence of faith. What cause could a soldier serve when it was stripped of ideals and what sacrifices should a believer make to an idol made of sand?

Very often in historical fiction one comes across a book of utter literary genius, where the rich historical facts mingle in perfection with the embedded storyline of the lives of the well-developed characters. This is such a book, a book craving to be made into an epic movie. The cinematic descriptions, the author's brilliance in extracting real human emotions and splaying them on the page, and developing the characters in such a profound way is nothing sort of masterful. The prose is rich with thought-provoking passages and one which will stay with a reader long after the last word is read. For lovers of stories like “The English Patient” or “Captain Corelli's Mandolin”, this is a must-read book and is highly recommended.


“Winter Pale” by Marina Koulouri receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence



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