You know a book has you hooked when you can’t wait to find out what happens to a character. The end of part one ends with you not knowing whether Mathieu is alive or dead and you race onto part two to try and find out but so far no answer is forthcoming.
This book has also worked on an inspirational level with the old flames of non-fiction flickering and turning to a history book, I have pulled down Julian Jackson’s The Fall of France – The Nazi Invasion of 1940 off the bookshelf and plan to read that straight after Sartre because there is a growing desire to clarify just how the French army was overrun so quickly.
Bullet points between pages 190 – 272
* Mathieu and the troops that are prepared to fight prepare the village for a defence against the Germans with armed soldiers posted in various buildings including the school house, town hall and up on the church roof – where Mathieu is waiting
* Up on the church roof there is a tension that is broken with the arrival of the Germans and after what feels like an hour Mathieu who has claimed his first victim of the war is told that only three minutes have elapsed
* The battle with the clock becomes an obsession for Mathieu as the minutes slowly tick by and the school and town hall are overrun with only him left firing any resistance he concentrates on just holding out for 15 minutes and he does that and then part one ends
* Part two starts with Brunet, the communist leader being picked up by the Germans and added to a winding mass of prisoners who are finally marched to a town and dumped in the courtyard of an old barracks
* But after five days on the run and in captivity Brunet has not eaten and his strength is ebbing away as is his health and although he plans to build some sort of cell and mount some political resistance it become clear he might not have the strength