The Collaborators

Reginald Hill, Author
Reginald Hill, Author Countryman Press $19.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-88150-138-4
Reviewed on: 07/06/1989
Release date: 07/01/1989
First published in England in 1987, this novel departs from Hill's usual mystery oeuvre ( Ruling Passion ). With thoughtfulness and insight that call to mind le Carre, Hill reconsiders an aspect of the German occupation of France during WW II that many Frenchmen would prefer to forget--the collaboration. Set primarily in Paris, the novel follows the lives of Jean-Paul and Janine Simonian, he a Jew, she a boulanger 's daughter married against her parents' wishes. Upon his release from a military hospital after France's humiliating defeat in 1940, Jean-Paul joins the Resistance. For her part, Janine worries--about her two children and the husband who has become emotionally so dark and distant. Gunther Mai, an otherwise kindly German officer in the Abwehr , befriends Janine and uses her as a source of information on her husband's activities--a relationship that works well until he falls in love with her. What Hill portrays so successfully is the conflict between social and personal responsibility. Through a wonderful range of secondary characters, he skillfully characterizes the collaborator in his various guises--from the self-serving black marketeer to the loving mother and wife. Best of all, Hill captures the collapse of morality in occupied France. (July)
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