Sanchez, Thomas. Days of the Bee (Knopf Publishing Group, 2001).
In this story of an astonishing love, Thomas Sanchez portrays the violence, hope, and grandeur of lives transformed by war and exile. At the heart of the novel are Zermano, a world-famous Spanish painter, and his beautiful French muse, Louise Collard — whose lives are torn apart by the German invasion of France in World War II. Leaving Louise in Vichy-controlled Provence, Zermano returns to occupied Paris. But while he eventually goes on to celebrity and fortune, Louise disappears into obscurity.
Fifty years later, after Louise's death, an American scholar arrives in the south of France seeking the truth about the lovers' tempestuous romance and sudden separation. Why did the painter abandon the young beauty? What was the cause of her lifelong reclusiveness? What dark mysteries were being concealed by the ill-fated couple? By chance, the professor finds a cache of correspondence — Zermano's letters to Louise in her remote mountain village, and her intentionally unmailed letters to him in Paris. In their vivid, wrenching contents he uncovers secrets that Louise kept even from Zermano about her wartime experience: the dangers of her participation in the Resistance, and her complicity with one of its leaders, the Fly; her struggles to elude a sadistic officer who hunts her for political and personal reasons; her lyrical intimacy with a mystical beekeeper. Louise is forced to make a fateful decision between the love for her man, and the ultimate sacrifice for her country.
Schlink, Bernard. The Reader (Vintage, 1999).
Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the moral claims it makes upon the reader, this mesmerizing novel is a story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany.When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover--then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.
Schneider, Russ. Siege: A Novel of the Eastern Front, 1942 (Presidio Press; Reprint edition, 2004).
On January 21, 1942, more than five thousand exhausted German soldiers– fragments of retreating units–found themselves surrounded in the arctic northern Russian town of Cholm. Trapped in an area barely two kilometers wide, the freezing, starving men held out for 105 days, repelling endless infantry attacks and dozens of tank assaults. Fifteen hundred Germans died before relief finally arrived on May 5, but for those still able to fight, an even worse ordeal lay ahead–the siege of Fortress Velikiye Luki.
Following the fates of three ordinary Germans through these epic struggles, Russ Schneider captures the ferocity and titanic cruelty of a war that pushed men to the very edge of madness. Millions perished on the Russian Front during World War II. Siege is a searing testament to the forgotten men who strove valiantly, if in vain, against impossible odds.
Schwarz-Bart, Andre. The Last of the Just (Overlook, New edition, 2000).
In every generation, according to Jewish tradition, thirty-six "just men" are born to take the burden of the world's suffering upon themselves. This powerful and austere novel tells the story of Ernie Levy, the last of the just, who died at Auschwitz in 1943.
Seiffert, Rachel. Dark Room (Knopf Publishing Group, 2002).
A boy born with a physical deformity finds work as a photographer's assistant during the 1930s and captures on film the changing temper of Berlin, the city he loves. But his acute photographic eye never provides him with the power to understand the significance of what he sees through his camera. In the weeks following Germany's surrender, a teenage girl whose parents are both in Allied captivity takes her younger siblings on a terrifying, illegal journey through the four zones of occupation in search of her grandmother. Many years after the event, a young man trying to discover why the Russians imprisoned his grandfather for nine years after the war meets resistance at every turn; the only person who agrees, reluctantly, to help him has his own tainted past to contend with.
Serge, Victor. The Unforgiving Years (NYRB, 2008).
Born in Brussels of Russian revolutionary exiles, Serge (1890–1947) has long had a reputation as polemicist and journalist, but this powerful novel of the descent into WWII makes a strong case for his political fiction. In the pressured atmosphere just preceding the outbreak of war, a secret agent, D., breaks with the Organization—Stalin's spy network—and escapes from Paris with his lover, Nadine. With extreme paranoia that he cloaks in exquisite manners, D. tells only one person where they are going: an old comrade named Daria. In the next, flash-forward section, Daria, having been arrested, is released from exile in a Soviet backwater and thrust into the siege of Leningrad. The third section opens in 1945 Berlin, where Daria witnesses a host of Germans, injured and half crazy, try to survive aerial bombardment—a moment that, as W.G. Sebald noted, has been deeply underserved by literature. In the final section, Daria escapes Europe and follows D. and Nadine to Mexico, escaping (she thinks) the long reach of Stalin's agents. Serge remains sophisticated even during the book's more noirish moments, and action sequences form an inseparable part of his hypnotic, prophetic vision. (Publisher’s Weekly)
Serge, Victor. The Case of Comrade Tulayev (New York Review Books Classics, 2004).
One cold Moscow night, Comrade Tulayev, a high government official, is shot dead on the street, and the search for the killer begins. In this panoramic vision of the Soviet Great Terror, the investigation leads all over the world, netting a whole series of suspects whose only connection is their innocence—at least of the crime of which they stand accused. But The Case of Comrade Tulayev, unquestionably the finest work of fiction ever written about the Stalinist purges, is not just a story of a totalitarian state. Marked by the deep humanity and generous spirit of its author, the legendary anarchist and exile Victor Serge, it is also a classic twentieth-century tale of risk, adventure, and unexpected nobility to set beside Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls and André Malraux's Man's Fate.
Shaara, Jeff. The Rising Tide: A Novel of World War II (Random House, 2007).
Shaara (To the Last Man; Gone for Soldiers), who has written bestselling and critically acclaimed historical novels covering the American Revolution through World War I, takes on World War II in the wonderful first volume of a planned trilogy. As the book begins, Hitler's forces control Western Europe, and U.S. troops face off against the Germans in North Africa. From fall 1942 through spring 1943, the Allies battle Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps. Shaara evokes the agony of desert warfare and the utter chaos of an airborne assault through the experiences of Pvt. Jack Logan, a tank gunner, and Sgt. Jesse Adams, a paratrooper. The challenges-and frequent frustrations-of command are seen through the eyes of such luminaries as generals Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton and Rommel. The Allied victory in Africa is followed by the conquest of Sicily and the invasion of mainland Italy in 1943. With the Italian campaign sputtering, the Allies turn to planning for the decisive event of the European theater, the cross-channel invasion of France, which is where Shaara concludes this sprawling, masterful opening act. (Publisher’s Weekly)
Shaw, Charles. Heaven Knows Mr. Allison (Popular Library, 1963).
Corporal Allison, a U.S. Marine, arrives on an island in the Pacific in a rubber raft, a survivor of a sunken destroyer. He finds an abandoned settlement and a chapel with one occupant: Sister Angela, a novice nun who has not yet taken her final vows. For a while they have the island to themselves, but then a detachment of Japanese troops arrives to set up a meteorological camp, forcing them to hide in a cave.
Shaw, Irwin. The Young Lions (University of Chicago Press, New edition, 2000).
The Young Lions is a vivid and classic novel that portrays the experiences of ordinary soldiers fighting World War II. Told from the points of view of a perceptive young Nazi, a jaded American film producer, and a shy Jewish boy just married to the love of his life, Shaw conveys, as no other novelist has since, the scope, confusion, and complexity of war.
Sheers, Owen. Resistance (Nan A. Talese, 2008).
1944. After the fall of Russia and the failed D-Day landings, a German counterattack lands on British soil. Within a month, half of Britain is occupied. The seat of British government has fled to Worcester, Churchill to Canada. A network of British resistance cells is all that is left to defy the German army. Against this backdrop, Resistance opens with Sarah Lewis, a twenty-six-year-old farmer’s wife, waking to find her husband, Tom, has disappeared. She is not alone, as all the other women in the Welsh border valley of Olchon wake to find their husbands gone. With this sudden and unexplained absence, the women regroup as an isolated, all-female community and wait, hoping for news.
Later, a German patrol arrives in the valley, the purpose of their mission a mystery. When a severe winter forces the two groups together, a fragile mutual dependency develops. Sarah begins a faltering acquaintance with the patrol’s commanding officer, Albrecht Wolfram, and it is to her that he reveals the purpose of the patrol. But as the pressure of the war beyond presses in on this isolated community, this fragile state of harmony is increasingly threatened.
Imbued with immense imaginative breadth and confidence, Owen Sheers’s debut novel unfolds with the pace and intensity of a thriller. A hymn to the glorious landscape of the Welsh border territories and a portrait of a community under siege, Resistance is a first novel of grace and power.
Shires, Reginald. At the Age of Love (AuthorHouse, 2006).
At the Age for Love, A novel of Bangalore during World War II, is an extraordinary story of a soldier''s family waiting for his safe return from the Africa Front where he serves with a British tank unit pressing hard against the Germans in the desert of Libya. The chronicle begins with the soldier, Capt. Edward Thompson, saying goodbye to his wife Amelia and son Paddy and ends with his return at the end of the war. The story, narrated in incredible detail, tells how the boy and his mother with their relatives and friends live in this hectic military city in South India, where those who stay behind are swept along into the rushing, wild stream of British history in India during a time of war. The lives of these women--and their children--provide a bold story of Anglo-India in this multihued Indian landscape where rogues and villains and the honest, hard-working, church-going, form relationships in this bold saga as men and women cross family and racial boundaries in their search for love. The city of Bangalore with its cluster of towns around British army barracks comes alive with memorable characters and this novel follows their tense and gripping relationships. The ending, where these fun-loving characters come together in a frail boat on the peaceful Cauvery River at Seringapatnam near sunset, has much to say about life and the human mystery and the vision it offers us as we live in a changing world.