Friday, June 8, 2012

Book Review: Violins of Autumn

Author: Amy McAuley
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: Walker & Company

When the Germans begin bombing London in World War II, Betty is determined to do her part. Instead of running air raid drills like most girls her age, she lies about her age and trains to become a spy. Now known by her secret agent persona, Adele Blanchard, she finds herself parachuting over German-occupied France under the cover of darkness to join the secret Resistance movement. Prepared to die for her cause, Adele wasn’t expecting to make a new best friend in her fellow agent or fall for a handsome American pilot. With the brutality of war ever present, can Adele dare to dream of a future where the world is at peace and she is free to live and love of her own accord?

The cover of this book is so powerful. The girl on the front possesses such a natural beauty and essence about her. The way her hair is so neatly placed and her lips shine with perfectly placed lipstick gives the book a nice sophisticated feel and her wardrobe let me know immediately that this would be historical fiction. It’s the planes in the background that started my questioning. Where is she? Why are these planes involved? She looks like a very determined girl so I was more than happy to start my journey into her story.

Adele Blanchard is a secret agent or spy for an organization known as Special Operations Executive which was aligned with the resistance against Nazi occupied France. The book starts off in a plane flying high above the streets of France where Adele and her partner, Denise Langford, are about to parachute out in order to begin their assignments for the resistance. This book drops the reader right in the middle of the action. One reason why I loved it so much was because from page one until page three hundred and twenty-four I was right amongst the action and more so, right amongst World War II.

The writing was so realistic and entirely historically correct. From the resistance organization called, The Maquis, to the Nazi and French police, it was all very relevant to the happenings that actually took place during the war. Being someone who appreciates every inch of history, I was entranced by the book and by the fact that Amy McAuley definitely did her homework as far as the research is concerned.

The book was written from Adele’s perspective and such a brave woman was she! She was up against many prejudices being a woman in the war resistance. It was even said to her, “Taking back our country is a job for men. Not for girls” (40). I was curious to see how Adele would respond to that statement and I was very pleased with her immediate response. Adele took comments like these as challenges and eventually proved her worth as a woman fighting for the freedom of her country. She breaks through Nazi and French police and gets information from places like Nazi factories, which the men of the resistance thought they would never see inside of. Her self-esteem is enough to keep anyone reading this book because of the assurance and faith that she places within herself; we need more young girls like Adele.

The relationships that Adele forms within the resistance are remarkable simply because of the issues that they bond over. They are all fighting for freedom for their home and homeland of their people. Her partner, Denise Langford, that I mentioned before is quite the complete opposite of Adele. This, however, is what makes their friendship so monumental. They complement each other in ways that I do not even think they realized that they could. Adele is more realistic where as Denise has more spontaneous and adventurous tendencies. I believe we all need a friend that is the opposite of us so they can drag us into situations that we never thought we would end up in the first place. These girls are running from Nazis, French police, and a mysterious man who keeps following them, but the beauty of their story is that they never leave the other behind.

Lastly, I love the audacity and willpower of both of these women. They considered themselves of the levels of men, and so they should have. Nothing scared either of them and it was so uplifting to think how these two women made such as difference within a movement of men. One of my favorite parts of the book was when Adele is asked by the leader of the resistance movement to train a handful of young men to use the weaponry that will be provided to them. She makes many statements like this one, “After intense SOE training I’m able to handle and fire Sten guns, Bren guns, bazookas, what have you, but the pistol is my personal favorite” (185). Don’t we all wish that we were bad enough to make those kinds of remarks to a crowd of men armed with weapons? She is awesome! The best part of it all is that Adele has the dominating demeanor to her while at the same time she produces the same amount of class and sophistication.

Amy McAuley’s, ‘Violins of Autumn’, was something that I could not put down until I reached the final page and had finished Adele’s story. For anyone who loves a classy yet kick butt heroine or has a taste and love for history, I will immediately recommend this book! It is full of rapidly unfolding characters and plenty of action that will have you biting your nails and literally praying for Adele’s safety. I love Adele and I am sure by the end of this book that you all will too! Will you help Adele defeat the Nazis?

***This book was provided to me by the publisher for an honest review. Thank you all so much***


  1. I was wondering whether you would be happy to put up a link in my monthly series called “Books You Love”. The idea is for people to link up posts about a book they loved – it doesn’t have to be one they just posted about. It could be an old fave. I am hoping we will end up with a nice collection of books that can go on our reading lists. Here is the link Books You Loved June Edition

  2. This sounds like a fabulous book. My father-in-law was a RAF fighter pilot in WW2. I would like to read about WW2 action. TBR.