Saturday, July 21, 2018

Book Review: 'VieVie La Fontaine' by Linda Heavner Gerald

Florida author Linda Heavner Gerald has retired from her medical background and is living and writing along the Gulf of Mexico. She has already established a solid reputation as a writer of twelve mystery thrillers, winning awards both in this country and abroad, having been awarded the Florida Authors and Publishers Association award for Fiction. Linda's keen eye for evil in her books is matched by her conviction that 'regardless of our actions, God is always ready to welcome us back with forgiveness.' Rather than simply titillate her readers with superbly terrifying stories and psychological drama she offers a bit of a rainbow at the end - a sense of hope or encouragement for the characters of her books. ‘ Her goal is to demonstrate that God loves all of us. No one is beyond his redemptive grace.’ In ANNAPOLIS SUMMERS Linda turned her penetrating eye to the act of bullying as the theme - sustaining and surviving bullies in a story that is rich in color and the fine settings for which she is becoming highly respected. In THE SOLDIER AND THE AUTHOR Linda marries medicine and military in introduced a character who suffers from PTSD. Now with VIE VIE LA FONTAINE she takes a giant step forward on creating a profoundly interesting and important historical novel about the horrors and dénouement of WW II.

Linda's ability to paint a setting for a novel grows with each of her books. In her Prologue she sets the tone – ‘“Exiled” is a word which my people, the Jewish descendants of Abraham, know well. We have experienced expulsion from Egypt, Babylon and Rome as well as many other places during various periods throughout history. One of the most significant exiles wasn't from the land we inhabited but from this world! It began in March of 1933 when the German Reichstag elected the Nazi party. At that time, no party could form a majority parliamentary coalition to support a chancellor. The prominent statesman and diplomat, Franz von Papen, persuaded President Paul von Hindenburg to appoint Adolf Hitler on 30 of January in 1933. Hence, the transformation of the Weimar Republic into Nazi Germany quietly began. This republic eventually became a one-party dictatorship based on National Socialism. The new dictator desired to establish a “New Order” which would abolish what he saw as injustices as a result of the First World War and the victor's regulations from Britain and France. As a result of Hitler's leadership, the first six years of his “reign" created a massive economic recovery from the Great Depression. The people of Germany were ecstatic. Once again, they experienced pride in their country and believed their new leader could propel them to greatness as Hitler annexed territories which were home to millions of ethnic Germans. The support which he received was unmeasured. As former residents of Germany were united, the dictator's popularity soared. The history of Adolf Hitler is vital to the relevance of this story of VieVie La Fontaine. Although her story is fiction, there are many historical facts sprinkled into this tale. Quickly, the reader becomes aware of the progression of a maniac in Europe and the hell which he inflicted on anyone resisting him. Maybe, the fascination with this period is the desire to prevent such evil actions from ever occurring again, or perhaps we seemed riveted to this time because it was fearful and represented one of the most depraved periods of history. Adolf Hitler determined in his delusional mind his country was the "master race" while defiling and murdering millions of innocent men, women and children. This tale combines
his story with the actions of VieVie La Fontaine who represents a point of view held by many in France at the time. Mark Lichter, a young Jewish
man exiled from his home to escape the persecution and rage of a madman, honestly tells this story. The irony of innocence in France, before their world changed forever, is compared to the same simplicity in Germany which silently changed without anyone lifting a hand to help.’.

But on to the story as per the synopsis – ‘VieVie La Fontaine begins with an encapsulated history of the rise of Adolf Hitler in post World War I Germany. At the same time he starts his ascent, a beautiful and talented young woman, VieVie La Fontaine, continues to enjoy her life of wealth inside of Paris. This haunting story demonstrates the terror, denial, and depravity of Europe as a madman rises to control most of that continent. Told by a young Jewish man, Mark Lichter, the irony of the entire situation cries from the pages. Security, comfort and safety are ripped from his hands just as almost every Jew in Germany experienced. The reader discovers the best of Paris such as the Ritz Carlton and the life of wealthy Americans living there only later to read of the horrors hiding beneath the bright lights and glamour. It is difficult not to become angry as Mark and VieVie betray her husband and all whom they love. Much too soon, they are forced to deal with the nightmare of events starting in Berlin and spreading at last into Paris. At this point, the two young people decide to take a stand. The brave and heroic actions of the French Resistance Fighters inspired me to research and make this novel more than a work of fiction. Facts peppered into the pages of a book which will tug at the heart of anyone who loves history and the psychological thrill of war and romance. This book is dedicated to those who perished in a madman's Europe as well as the brave French Resistance Fighters. May we never forget their sacrifice.’

Once again Linda Heavner Gerard has accomplished a novel with a strong message for all ages so eloquently written that it becomes obvious that we are in the presence of a very fine author indeed. Grady Harp, July 18

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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