Once More Unto the Breach: A Novel. Meghan Holloway. Polis Books. Copyright May 14, 2019, pb, 320 pp.; ISBN: 9781947993600.
Rhys Gravenor is looking for his son in WWII-torn Paris. He deeply regrets his last conversation with his son, Owain, who declared his “conscientious objector” status and was called a coward by his father. Now, he carries a letter from his son in his pocket while searching for him. Rhys fought in WWI and knows the horrors of war but is alarmed and horrified by what he observes in cities and towns around Paris. The cruelty and barbarity displayed by the Germans cannot fail to leave nightmarish scenes etched upon the memory of any and all observers.
In his search, Rhys is joined by an American nurse and now serving as an ambulance driver, Charlotte Dubois has her own memories and secrets but proves to be formidable, brave and a person of impeccable honesty. The upshot of this revealing story is that Jewish children are being sought out for destruction, and Owain is part of the Resistance trying to save them by getting them out of the country. In the midst of it all is a man, Henri, who is also seeking Owain in order to recover missing works of art that Germans are stealing and moving to their own facilities.
In the search by all, hundreds of executed individuals are found slaughtered and left without burial. Works of art are found hidden and awaiting transport. Wounded German soldiers are found near death. Remaining Parisian residents and other town survivors are slow to speak but loyal to those whom they know are honorable people.
Rather than being a factual account of what is mostly already known by most people, Once More Unto the Breach is told starkly with honesty, tenderness and tribute to those who risked and suffered so much to stop the senseless torture and murder being inflicted on France by German soldiers and leaders. It also includes numerous scenes of the loyal and lovable dog Otto which will warm your heart amidst the chaos.
This is a thriller novel easily rated as a 5/5. The author successfully endeavors to show all sides of a war that at one point has no winner but only too many losers. This is remarkable historical fiction you won’t soon forget. Watch for more from this skilled author who knows how to craft a great story!