cover image Lea


Regine Deforges, Regine Desforges. L. Stuart, $17.95 (330pp) ISBN 978-0-8184-0435-1

This second part of a wartime trilogy (The Blue Bicycle) by one of France's most popular writers follows the story of Lea Delmas after 1942. Even more prominently, the novel reveals Gestapo atrocities and unfolds the tragedies of individual French lives during the Occupation. Daring, beautiful Lea rides her bicycle to convey coded messages to cells of the Resistance. She appears to be in little danger, however, although a former vineyard laborer of her father's threatens her, hoping to seize her estate. Lea's sister Sabine's liaison with a German officer, while shaming the family, affords them some protection. When Lea's beloved Laurent marries another woman and joins the Underground, Lea finds consolation with Francois Tavernier, a handsome manipulator whose covert activities give him entree with both enemies and allies. Francois also watches over Lea; their initial sensuality shows signs of turning into love. But Deforges dwells especially on the network of treachery by which invidious or disaffected Frenchmen denounced their neighborsJews and Resistance workerssending them to the death camps. More somber than The Blue Bicycle, Lea is sketchy on character, but strong on creating a historical scene. (October)