An Act of Treachery by Ann Widdecombe

Ann Noreen Widdecombe DSG was born in Bath, England, on 4 October, 1947. DSG is The Order of St. Gregory the Great: one of the five Orders of Knighthood of the Holy See.  This special honour is bestowed on Roman Catholic men and women as a result of their personal service to the Roman Catholic Church through their unusual efforts and their excellent examples set forth in their communities and their countries.

Ms Widdecombe was educated at the Royal Naval School in Singapore and at La Sainte Union Convent School in Bath. She read Latin at Birmingham University, Birmingham, England and then attended Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University and read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, PPE. The author then worked for Unilever and later as an administrator at the University of London before she entered the House of Commons in the UK as a Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party.

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Ms Widdecombe retired from Parliament at the 2010 election, and has been an author since 2000.  Since 2002 she has also made numerous television and radio appearances, including as a television presenter.

An Act of Treachery is the first book by this author that I have read.  I liked the title, recognised her name and it was being sold at a bargain price by the charity shop in the village.  The story is about a teenage girl, Catherine Dessin who attends a convent school when the German Army enter Paris, France, in 1940.  She comes from a close family and her parents are very patriotic. Although she is taught good values and to hate the enemy, she falls in love with a married German officer.  Although they disapprove, Catherine’s parents allow the relationship to continue for reasons of their own.

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Four years later when the German’s are defeated Catherine’s German lover, Klaus, arranges with her parents that she should leave Paris.  He fears she would be accused of being a collaborator if she stays. She is sent to stay in a village with a distant cousin who has never been mentioned previously. It is there she discovers she is expecting the Klaus’s baby and that her lover has been killed in an air raid.

Although this is an interesting take on life in Paris during World War II, I did not find it a gripping as I had expected.  Although Catherine has a Jewish friend who disappears with her whole family, their fate is glossed over with a very broad brush. I never felt any real danger for the characters during their relationship. However, I was not swept off my feet by the love affair, either. I also found the ending a bit predictable.  It is a short book, so may be worth reading for a view of life at that time. Still, I could not recommend it unconditionally, nor would I particularly seek out another work by this author.

Valerie Penny

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