Wednesday 20 October 2010

Review: War on the Margins - Libby Cone

Genre: Fiction
Pages: 245
Published: 2009

France has just fallen to the Nazis. Britain is under siege. As BBC bulletins grow more and more grim, residents of Jersey know they cannot expect help from anyone. Thousands of them abandon their homes, trying to evacuate before the first of the German planes whine overhead. Not long after the mass exodus, the Germans invade and begin to impose Nazi doctrine on the vanquished people of Jersey. Marlene Zimmer, a shy clerk at the Aliens Office, is forced to register her friends and neighbours as Jews while hiding her own heritage. Eventually, after being spotted at her Jewish father's gravestone, she decides she must flee to avoid persecution, and after a final act of rebellion against her anti-Semitic employer, she disappears. Layers of disturbing history unfold as we chart Marlene's transformation from unassuming office worker to active Resistance member under the protection of Surrealist artists Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore. Drawn from authentic World War II documents, broadcasts and private letters, "War on the Margins" tells of an often-overlooked and crucial battlefield during World War II. 

This book has similarities with the Guernsey pie book, they both deal with the occupation of the Channel Islands. And it's something I have not heard much about at all.

Marlene Zimmer has stayed behind on Jersey when the Germans come and soon things get really bad. All sort of restrictions are put on Jews, and her being one makers her scared so she runs away. She meets two women who have their own resistance and joins them. Hers is not the only POV, we also gets to follow some other people. Peter, a Polish slaveworker who is being worked to death on the island. A Jewish woman on the run, a German soldier who hates what they are doing to the people, and a few others. The war is seen through their eyes.

This was a good book about the war, I enjoyed it, and I was also horrified by it. The cruel of the Germans towards their slaves, and especially the Eastern European ones because those were so pure, the crazy bureaucracy towards Jews, and of course later what happened. Even the German soldiers had it bad. Everyone on the island was starving. They had to live on rats and whatever they could find. War is hell, and here that was true. I can't imagine what it would be hiding in a cellar for years and wondering when the soldiers would come to take you away. You always know there will be cruelty and inhumanity and I always wonder how people could be so evil. But there is also hope and the goodness of mankind. People who hid Jews, and slaver workers on the run. Farmers who left out food for the hungry. Stories that bring you hope.

The different POVS worked, and they were all interesting to follow. There was also the interesting concept of doing something right, that then might have been wrong, so what is the right thing to do? Might sound confusing, but read and see.

Like I said before, I have heard way too little about this, and in a way it was like the people felt. They listened to the radio but never heard anything about their own plight.

Cover: Nice
Final thoughts: very interesting


  1. Great review! I've never heard of this before, but I love the sound of the story and the time period :)

  2. I do like the sound of this. I loved The Guernsey Pie book, it was definitely one of my favourite reads last summer. I shall look out for this.

  3. I'm a WWII sucker. I'm so going to have to get this book.

  4. I grew up reading Holocaust literature and a few yeays back I decided I had enough because these books depressed me so much. I did really enjoy Guernsey though and if this book is similar maybe I'll give it a try.

  5. Awesome review Linda. I enjoy reading these "undiscoverd" stories about WWII. People had such resilience and strength during those horrible times. Thanks for the recommendation.

  6. Great, insightful review! I don't like wars, but I like a good book about war.

  7. Yours is the second review of War on the Margins I've read in the past two days. Definitely going on my wish list. Your review tells me everything I want to know.

  8. It sounds really powerful - but too depressing for me to read...

  9. Wow! Sounds like an important book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  10. Nice review. I tend not to books about the war, though. Just too much sadness.

  11. A very good review and an interesting book to read! I know this kind of literature might make you depressed but you also learn a ton of incredible stories and one universal truth - no circumstances can explain inhuman behaviour. People managed to stay humane and caring even in concentration camps.

  12. I love to read about WWII. Going to check this one out.

  13. this sounds really interesting, and i love the cover!

  14. I am fascinated with books about WWII, so you got my attention right away. The fact that it's similar to Guernsey is a bonus!

  15. Melissa
    It was good, something just pulled me in.

    I loved it too, I was memorized by it. This one was different, but still good in another way

    You are, I am kind of a WWI sucker :)

    This one was not depressing in that sense. It was more like Guernsey, which btw made me really sad, something this one didn't

  16. Jenny
    I wish I had known more about it, I knew about the rest of Europe, but this is a hidden island filled with stories.

    I often find such great books about war, sad, beautiful, haunting, just as long as the war it self stays a bit behind

    Oh, cool, it is really a book that deserves a spotlight.

    Trust me it wasn't, something shine through

  17. Melissa
    It's a book that should be read, one can always learn more

    I can understand that, it's something I would never want to go through

    So very true, even in the most awful conditions people still stand strong and do nice things. Even if it makes me sad to read about, it still makes me happy too that people can do such nice things

    I do recommend it

    I love that it truly fits the period

    Who didn't love that book :D

  18. I wonder if I could stomach the cruelty. Great review!

  19. Glad to see you thought this one was good. It's been sitting on my shelf for awhile, and it's about time I got around to reading it.

    I'll link to your review on War Through the Generations. I'll be doing some major updates over there soon.

  20. I almost read this one...sounds like it is worth picking up at some point!

  21. I haven't heard of this book before but I too like the period very much. thank you for this review.

  22. Hey Blodeuedd, I am peeking in before I head to bed honey! I hope all is going good for you and bf!!!!!! Hugs honey!!!

  23. I've read quite a bit of WWII fiction, but hadn't even heard of the Channel Islands until the Guernsey book. This one sounds good too.

  24. Juju
    It always makes me sad, how can people be so evil...

    Do that, I thought at you at once when I read this one :) I'd say bump it up a bit

    It's definitely worth another look

  25. Great review! Haven't read much about WWII and this sounds interesting one. And since my library has it I just have to read it.

  26. Mystica
    I do recommend it

    Hi my fav smutty hussy, lol
    All is well, though I gave him the silent treatment yesterday for being an idiot

    That was my first book about it too, at least now I have read 2

    They have it, cool, go find it

  27. I haven't heard of this book before and I do love to learn more about this time period - I'll have to check this one out!

  28. Amused
    Do check it out, I am sure you would enjoy it

  29. I've never heard of this one but I'd read it just because you said it's similar to Guernsey and I adored that book. Thanks for great review :-)

  30. Teddy
    Similiar in the fact that they suffered, and there are letters too there ;)

  31. This sounds interesting.
    Stories about war survivors are always terrifying, yet can be hopeful as well.

  32. I'm thrilled at the response to Blodeuedd's review of my book. It is currently running in third place for the People's Book Prize. If you like War on the Margins, please vote for it, and for any of the eleven nominees you like!

  33. Thank you so much for coming by Libby :D
    The book was really lovely, I am so glad I won it over at Kay's place.

    It is sure like that, but then that is war, and war is not pretty



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