Thursday, 10 January 2013

Ignorance by Michele Roberts

Set in a small French town during the war, Michele Roberts' latest novel tells of the relationship between two girls who go to the same convent school and the disturbing effects of the German occupation. Marie-Angèle is the more fortunate of the two - the daughter of a shopkeeper, her parents have ambitions for her. Jeanne, on the other hand, is a charity student at the school. Her widowed mother takes in laundry, has a consumptive cough and is Jewish.

The girls grow up and are drawn towards different men, including Maurice, a black market racketeer who is happy to work with the Germans to make money but uses his influence for good as well. The reader can expect a certain amount of unpleasantness in this novel, given the storyline and Roberts has a talent for making it all seem very real. The characters are vividly portrayed, and even the heroines of the story are shown warts and all. Descriptions of wartime privations and the fearfulness created by enemy occupation add plenty of tension.

There is also much to think about. The ignorance of the title concerns the betrayal that occurs when people turn a blind eye to things that are difficult to deal with, such as a neighbour’s poverty or the slowly disappearing Jewish population. This is a powerful novel that will stay in your mind for some time. Posted by JAM.

About the Author

Other works includeDaughters of the House, 1992 - shortlisted for the Booker Prize 1992, won the W.H. Smith Literary Award 1993

Search the Catalogue and reserve online:
Ignorance by Michele Robert, 2012

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