Member Reviews

A very descriptive book. The French countryside is greatly described. And I felt the characters were beautifully portrayed with detailed insights. Fast paced book that kept my attention

Was this review helpful?

Daughters of War is a sweeping story of three sisters - Hélène, Elise and Florence- who are living in France during WWII.

Dinah Jeffries creates a world that is both close (the sisters' lives in their home and their interactions with each other) as well as a more expansive look at life for those living in occupied territories during this war. The young women have already been through many hardships and tragedies, and face further adversity while trying to survive and grow with war raging in Europe.

Separated from their mother at home in England, nurse Hélène takes on the role of carer for her sisters, specifically for youngest sister Florence, who is the natural homemaker. Elise has involved herself in the underground resistance and this not only puts her in danger, but her sisters too. Their three lives all have their own difficulties, as well their collective fight against the German forces trying to ruin them and where they live. These trials and tribulations are what drive the plot of this story, while also allowing to get to know each sister, and follow on their heartbreaking journey.

I've read a few too many historical novels lately that kind of gloss over the realities of the time, and that feel quite superficial in terms of details and depth, but Jeffries conveys the strength and the difficulties, the many horrors and the moments of hope. She doesn't shy away from the awful events that happened women especially at the time, and how everyone in general suffered and lived in a constant state of fear, while also bracing themselves to get through it all.

The book covers so much, with many times that I assumed the story would surely finish soon (as so much had happened) and then I was taken on another journey with them (and I don't mean any of this in a negative way!). Definitely one of the better historical WWII novels I've read in a long time, I look forward to reading the next in the series later this year.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the advance copy of this title.

Was this review helpful?

Absolutely wonderful. Didn't realise it was one of three when I began and can't wait to read the next one. Beautiful story abd beautifully written.

Was this review helpful?

Daughters of War is the first in a trilogy by Dinah Jefferies who is one of my favourite authors. It was published last year but for one reason or another I hadn’t gotten around to reading it but decided to rectify this as I know book two is due to be published in September. This is a broad story following three sisters living in the Dordogne region of France. It follows Helene, Elise and Florence as they try to make the best of the impossible circumstances that befall them during World War Two. This is an epic, sweeping drama in terms of its length and well over 500 pages and also in terms of the setting and the plot. It’s a multi-layered story which reveals itself slowly piece by piece. At times I felt the story was overly long in places and I found that in the beginning and perhaps for a good quarter of the book that it was slow going with not much happening. But once I got past this point I thought the story found a steady rhythm and pace and you become caught up in everything and you really are whisked away to France and become deeply invested in the lives of the three women.

On reflection, I think perhaps the slow pace was necessary given that there will be three books in the series and if too much was revealed too soon there would be nowhere to go with the story. I thought at times some of the detail and information presented was surplus to requirements but having read the blurb for the next book, I now understand that Dinah had everything so carefully planned and she was actually dropping little hints as to what plots could arise in the future books. What’s brilliant about this book is the descriptions, I felt as if I was living alongside the sisters as they struggled through the war and longed for a return to normal life. They live down a quiet laneway not far from the village of Sainte Cecile but it was almost as if they existed in another world in their farmhouse. I felt it almost had a magical feel about it almost as if it was a world away from the horrors of war yet war was very much on their doorstep. The beauty of the location and the use of land and nature throughout the book was just pure perfection and clearly a lot of research had been undertaken to know every little detail and to make the location just as important as all the events that befall the family.Their farmhouse was a haven and a refuge for each of them but all three women are very different from each other and their distinct voices firmly established themselves the more the book progressed.

It’s now 1944 with the war at its height. The sisters moved from England seven years ago following the death of their father. Their French mother Claudette decided to remain in England and they have not seen her since the outbreak of the war with communication being more or less impossible. For someone not actually physically present in the book we learn an awful lot about Claudette particularly through what Helene says about her. The relationship she has with her mother is fractured in places and she feels like she has had to take on the mother role when perhaps she mightn’t have wanted to. There was clearly a story surrounding Claudette and we get the briefest hints as to what had happened. I had some ideas as to what had occurred but as to specific details I couldn’t pinpoint anything exactly and I would have loved to hear from her point of view. I felt she needed to have her voice heard instead of the reader interpreting everything from what her daughters thought of her. Perhaps we will hear from her in future books and my opinion of her might change because at the moment from what I have learned she is a complex person who is quite cold and hard.

Helene is like the leader of the small family unit and she has many responsibilities and she had hoped to create a world where war would not encroach too much on their lives but that is not possible. I felt Helene was in a constant state of worry and anxiety and definitely not as free spirited as Florence or as strong willed as Elise. She carries many burdens on her shoulders especially as she works as a nurse alongside the village doctor, Hugo. She is at the centre of a lot of the mini plots that develop throughout the book and although reluctant at first to put herself in any unnecessary danger when an awful event occurs ( which was so brutally described but essential in helping the reader understand the subsequent motivations of the character) she finally got the courage to do her bit for the war effort because she knows whatever she does it will help in some small way to bring her family one step closer to safety. She always thinks of her sisters ahead of herself and she holds the reins together as tightly as she can but I enjoyed how some romance came to be a part of her life. Although unrequited for the most part and it came about due to a very difficult situation I hoped she would find some happiness amidst the upheaval and destruction of war. Helene is definitely a character who highlighted the bravery of ordinary people and as she works alongside the community of Saint Cecile I felt she grew and matured against her will at first but then she knew what she was doing was right no matter how difficult the path she was walking was.

Elise was a brilliant character full of energy, bravery and courage. She is so resilient no matter the hardships and difficulties that befall her. You’re heart will break for her for what she endures and I wished it hadn’t have had to occur but it added drama to the book and allowed other strands of the story to step up and take centre stage. She puts her life on the line on a daily basis due to her work with the Resistance and although Helene is constantly worrying for her I think deep down she admired deep down what Elise was doing and really wanted to be just like her. Elise is fiery and full of spirit and cunning and she was a woman ahead of her time. Very few women in the village had the audacity to engage in what she did but she wants to rally against all the changes in terms of the rules, how people are affected and how their daily lives have altered so drastically. She was someone who proved that love was stronger than fear, stronger than hate and stronger than division. She really got stuck into things ad although she lived with a never ending sense of fear because of the work she engaged in I think she thrived off this and it certainly helped her when trauma befalls her and she has to pick up the pieces and carry on again.

Florence was the sister who lived in a world of her own. She was whimsical and carefree and so in tune with nature and the land. She was the one who provided sustenance for the family and it was her way of contributing when she wasn’t as strong as the others in terms of engaging in resistance work or the simple day to day war effort in terms of surviving and keeping safe. She is fragile and sensitive and much preferred tending the garden growing food for the house and she puts her heart and soul into this. She was ingenious in what she could create from so little and she felt she was adding to the family in some small way providing so much when everything was rationed and people were struggling to get by. Her storyline took several surprising turns. One of which I had my suspicions about and was then proved wrong about but it allowed for the setting up of a good potential storyline for the future. The other was life altering for her and very detailed for the reader but I thought it was essential to have this event described in that detail because it showed how Florence changed and wasn’t perhaps as airy fairy as she was on first introduction.

The latter half of the book had a lot more going on and a strong thread became established. I loved getting to know the different characters in the village and some extra people that added some action to the story. Things take a very dramatic turn and I should have guessed what was happening with a certain character but I had no idea. The realities of war are brought home in a shocking manner but alongside this the community spirit and unity is highlighted as well as some very touching natural and emotional moments too. As the book draws to its conclusion there are lots of questions remaining and the answers may not even be given until book three. But still there was some satisfaction and resolution to be found with regard to some aspects of the story but as for others not so much and therefore we are set up perfectly for what is to come in the next book.

Daughters of War, once I got into it, was great read capturing perfectly a moment in time of one family during the war and how it affected those who had no choice but to try and make it through each day whilst clinging to hope. I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for the sisters and thankfully a copy of The Hidden Palace is waiting for me to get stuck into.

Was this review helpful?

In France 1944 three sisters are trying to survive under the Nazi occupation. Helene is trying to keep them safe while Elise helps the Resistance. One night the Allies come looking for help and everyone is in danger.
As always Dinah Jeffries tell a great story. This draws you in to feel what the locals are suffering but there is always light and hope. The sisters are very good charcaters, all different but you care about them. They have a backstory that only comes to light as the book goes on.
Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for granting me an advance copy.

Was this review helpful?

Excellent story telling, thoroughly enjoyed this book recommend to all. Characters are very well drawn and quickly established

Was this review helpful?

An emotional, heart-warming and wonderful read with a great plot and lovely characters. I'm new to the author but will look out for more.

Was this review helpful?

It’s a while since I read a book in gulps, not wanting to put it down, not wanting to leave the story. ‘Daughters of War’ by Dinah Jefferies is the first of a World War Two trilogy about three sisters. And what characters they are, each individual, quirky, vulnerable, stubborn, brave and refreshing. I lurched from having one favourite, then another. At the end I was equally drawn to each.
In the Dordogne live three sisters – Hélène, Élise and Florence - alone in their mother’s house during the German occupation. Hélène is the eldest, a nurse, the mother hen, the worrier. Élise is the rebel, helping the Resistance, disappearing at night. Florence, the youngest, is a gardener, a cook, a nature lover. They are tired of the war, terrified by the Germans and their increasingly violent and indiscriminate reprisals, desperate for a normal life without remembering what that might be.
Backstory is important and there are many mysteries, unspoken memories and fears, which can only by explained when something happens to trigger understanding. We see the girls’ mother Claudette, in England for the war, only through their memories but she is a pivotal character nonetheless.
The story opens in spring 1944 when the girls’ quiet life at their stone cottage in the woods is altered by two arrivals. Jack, a British Special Operations soldier, has parachuted in with orders to train the Resistance in preparation for the invasion. Tomas, a young German soldier, has deserted and is found hiding in their garden shed. What follows is a tale of innocence, love, bravery, cruelty, loyalty and honour.
Jefferies’ descriptions of the French countryside - the trees, the birds, the wildflowers, the Dordogne scenery, coupled with the descriptions of Florence’s cooking - work as a shocking juxtaposition to the horror of war in this oh so beautiful tranquil place.
A page-turner.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/

Was this review helpful?

I struggled with this book to be honest. It just felt overly long with lots of parts that really didn't contribute much to the plat/story

Clearly the author is an accomplished writer but this one didn't really work for me

Was this review helpful?

Once again Dinah Jefferies has produced a great read and this time the novel is centred on three sisters living in wartime France under the Nazis. Whilst the eldest sister, a nurse called Helene acts as the "mother" figure to her younger sisters Eloise and Florence. But where Eloise gets involved with the Resistance and is daring in her exploits, the youngest Florence is dreamy and cooks and gardens to help them through the shortages of wartime France. Why their Mother became so remote after their father's death intrigues Helene. But life there is complicated and very dangerous and who and what their friends and neighbours are doing is not always clear to the sisters, add to the mixture an English SOE operator, a runaway German soldier, a stranger who seeks them out and the story races along to the climax. It left me wishing for the next book to see how life pans out for them. A great story! Thanks for the opportunity to read it.

Was this review helpful?

A fascinating read, three very different sisters experiences of life under German occupation. I really enjoyed the writing style and found this book very absorbing, as my history teacher at school was very poor my historical knowledge is patchy and Im keen to learn more, this book was very informative as well as being a great read with engaging characters, I would like to read more by this author

Was this review helpful?

Daughters of war - Dinah Jefferies

Sorry, unfortunately I didn’t get to finish this book as had other books and this one expired before I had a chance

Was this review helpful?

Daughters of War introduces Helene, Eloise and Florence - three sisters living in a rural village in occupied France in the closing weeks of the Second World War. Dinah Jefferies’ writing drew me in from the first pages and had me gripped to the last. I loved the characters of the three sisters and the descriptions of the beauty of the natural world around the Dordogne, in stark contrast to the dark and often shocking events as the War reaches its closing days. A multi-layered story raising questions from the past and questions about the future. I am so pleased that this is the first in a trilogy; I can’t wait to meet up with the sisters again! Thanks to Net Galley, the publisher and author for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an independent review.

Reviewed on Goodreads and Amazon

Was this review helpful?

An enthralling story of three sisters living under German oppression in wartime Dordogne. This period of history has always fascinated me and this was an enjoyable and emotional tead.

Was this review helpful?

I’ve read a good few novels by Dinah Jefferies and if there’s one thing that keeps me coming back for her titles, it’s her distinctive flair for descriptive writing. She is the queen of setting and atmosphere; wherever the book is set, you’ll FEEL the surroundings. I’d say this novel is definitely her best yet.

Daughters of War centres around the lives of three sisters living in Nazi-occupied France during WW2. It’s a hefty book (over 500 pages) but that means it’s a truly sweeping tale of sisterhood, survival and history - you can tell a lot of research has gone into this. I didn’t find it at all boring or tedious (thanks a lot school history lessons) but I could have done without some of the cheesy romances. Not a spoiler, but maybe Jack will make more sense in the next instalment - yep, only found out at the end that this is the first book in a trilogy, though you could absolutely read this as a stand-alone. I’ll definitely be reading the next one to see what the future has in store for the sisters ☺️

Was this review helpful?

Three sisters ,all different struggle with the consequences of World War Two in a quiet part of the French countryside. Interesting aspects of the war and well described characters make this a good read.

Was this review helpful?

I was given a copy of The daughters of War by Dinah Jefferies by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I have read several books by the same author previously. The book is set in France during world war 2. 3 sisters live together each have their own journey through the war.
A good story but not one of my favorites by this author

Was this review helpful?

Having read several dinah jefferies books i feel this one is one of my favourites so far. Could not fault it nor could i put it down.

Was this review helpful?

Huge thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Honestly, I really wanted to love this one, which may have actually ended up being why I struggled to get into it. I just found huge sections of it to just be a bit slow and drag a touch. That said, the description was beautiful and well written, and really a highlight of the whole story for me.

Was this review helpful?

Three sisters, half English, living in a Dordogne village in wartime Vichy France.. plenty of historical details of a period of history in WWII which has not been covered extensively in wartime novels. Initially I thought the plot would be all too predictable but the plot moved along briskly and there some unexpected twists. Knowing it is the first of a trilogy to an extent detracted from elements of suspense.

Was this review helpful?