Book Review//Lana’s War

Lana’s War by Anita Abriel

Goodreads Synopsis:

Paris 1943: Lana Antanova is on her way to see her husband with the thrilling news that she is pregnant. But when she arrives at the convent where he teaches music, she’s horrified to see Gestapo officers execute him for hiding a Jewish girl in the piano.

A few months later, grieving both her husband and her lost pregnancy, Lana is shocked when she’s approached to join the resistance on the French Riviera. As the daughter of a Russian countess, Lana has the perfect background to infiltrate the émigré community of Russian aristocrats who socialize with German officers, including the man who killed her husband.

Lana’s cover story makes her the mistress of Guy Pascal, a wealthy Swiss industrialist and fellow resistance member, in whose villa in Cap Ferrat she lives. Together, they gather information on upcoming raids and help members of the Jewish community escape. Consumed by her work, she doesn’t expect to become attached to a young Jewish girl or wonder about the secrets held by the man whose house she shares. And as the Nazis’ deadly efforts intensify, her intention to protect those around her may put them all at risk instead.

[Amazon CA] [Book Depository]

My Thoughts

I received this eARC from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I found this to be an easy read compared to Abriel’s previous novel The Light After the War which you can see my review here. I didn’t enjoy that novel, and when I saw that she had a new book coming out I was very hesitant to request it on NetGalley. Atria/Simon and Schuster reached out to me and sent me a digital copy because I had already reviewed her previous novel which made my decision easy.

I was pleasantly surprised that I did like Lana’s War. As I said before, it was an easy read; I finished it in a few sittings and found it enjoyable. The characters were likeable enough, Lana had a plausible reason for joining the French Resistance and for justice for her husband and unborn child.

It appeared that Abriel did some research about Nice, World War II and the German officers that she made characters – she kept some of their names the same and based the facts towards the end of the novel based on historical records. This always makes me happy when authors do their research and have their novels based on facts! Abriel did a good job at describing what it was like living in Nice and in Paris during the German occupation of France. It seemed like there was a lot of similarities in the direction of this novel that other World War II historical fiction novels take, but the change in location was a nice change from taking place primarily in France, or Germany.

I thought the intrigue and mystery was well done in this novel. I got the sense that you couldn’t trust anyone because you didn’t know where their loyalties lie. However, it could have been amplified; the distrust was there, but just hovering on the surface – it was another case of the author telling the reader through her characters dialogues instead of showing the reader through actions and different scenarios. I’m a firm believer in show me, don’t tell me as I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before in my other reviews.

I thought that there would be more about Lana saving Jewish children, and even the adults in this novel, but that was not the case even though this novel is all about Lana, how she joined the Resistance, and her need for revenge. There’s only so many times that Lana can state in different ways that she’s joined the Resistance because she saw her husband murdered and lost the baby – another case of just show me instead of telling me in different ways! I found that this novel was a bit too light for me, I got no sense of danger, no threatening overtones, no urgency in this novel that I feel in other WWII novels. The topic of joining the French Resistance and even the Holocaust is very sobering and dark, but Abriel made it too light for me, almost very removed for the reader.

 I don’t think that this was entirely original, but I did enjoy it. I’m still waiting to be blown away by a World War II historical fiction novel. Although All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer, and The Daughter of the Reich by Louise Fein are my top WWII historical fiction novels and give me hope for more books like them. I find it hard to find a new and interesting novel within this genre as it’s a super saturated market. All this being said, I wouldn’t go out and add Lana’s War to my collection.

The ending left me very unhappy and unsatisfied. It ended almost too happy and on a good note. No woman just accepts an apology then flies off into the sunset with a man she’s been waiting around for. She takes it too easily – it should have been messy with lots of tears, anger, any emotion really. This touches on how I believe that Abriel needs more practice writing her characters – they’re very flat and one dimensional to me.

Overall, it was better than her previous novel, but I think she still has some work to do, and I’m hoping that her next novel will be better. It will be interesting to see what her next novel will be about. I will be keeping an eye out for it and will be requesting it via NetGalley again unless Atria/Simon and Schuster send me a digital copy like they did this time.

Let me know your thoughts below!

Cups of Tea: ☕☕☕

Publisher: Atria/Simon and Schuster

Published: January 12, 2021

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