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The Englishman's Daughter: A True Story of Love and Betrayal in World War I

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In the first terrifying days of World War I, four British soldiers found themselves trapped behind enemy lines on the western front. They were forced to hide in the tiny French village of Villeret, whose inhabitants made the courageous decision to shelter the fugitives until they could pass as Picard peasants. The Englishman’s Daughter is the never-before-told story of the In the first terrifying days of World War I, four British soldiers found themselves trapped behind enemy lines on the western front. They were forced to hide in the tiny French village of Villeret, whose inhabitants made the courageous decision to shelter the fugitives until they could pass as Picard peasants. The Englishman’s Daughter is the never-before-told story of these extraordinary men, their protectors, and of the haunting love affair between Private Robert Digby and Claire Dessenne, the most beautiful woman in Villeret. Their passion would result in the birth of a child known as “The Englishman’s Daughter,” and in an act of unspeakable betrayal, a tragic legacy that would haunt the village for generations to come. Through the testimonies of the villagers and the last letters of the soldiers, acclaimed journalist Ben Macintyre has pieced together a harrowing account of how life was lived behind enemy lines during the Great War, and offers a compelling solution to a gripping mystery that reverberates to this day.


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In the first terrifying days of World War I, four British soldiers found themselves trapped behind enemy lines on the western front. They were forced to hide in the tiny French village of Villeret, whose inhabitants made the courageous decision to shelter the fugitives until they could pass as Picard peasants. The Englishman’s Daughter is the never-before-told story of the In the first terrifying days of World War I, four British soldiers found themselves trapped behind enemy lines on the western front. They were forced to hide in the tiny French village of Villeret, whose inhabitants made the courageous decision to shelter the fugitives until they could pass as Picard peasants. The Englishman’s Daughter is the never-before-told story of these extraordinary men, their protectors, and of the haunting love affair between Private Robert Digby and Claire Dessenne, the most beautiful woman in Villeret. Their passion would result in the birth of a child known as “The Englishman’s Daughter,” and in an act of unspeakable betrayal, a tragic legacy that would haunt the village for generations to come. Through the testimonies of the villagers and the last letters of the soldiers, acclaimed journalist Ben Macintyre has pieced together a harrowing account of how life was lived behind enemy lines during the Great War, and offers a compelling solution to a gripping mystery that reverberates to this day.

30 review for The Englishman's Daughter: A True Story of Love and Betrayal in World War I

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    It is clear this book is written by a journalist rather than a novelist. Wouldn’t you clearly recognize the difference between the words of a novel and those found in a newspaper? A newspaper article relates fact and number and dates. It states the people and places involved. You are told what happens. That is how this book is written. This book is based on official documents, letters, diaries and newspaper articles. Extensive research lies behind its content. The facts related are about the vil It is clear this book is written by a journalist rather than a novelist. Wouldn’t you clearly recognize the difference between the words of a novel and those found in a newspaper? A newspaper article relates fact and number and dates. It states the people and places involved. You are told what happens. That is how this book is written. This book is based on official documents, letters, diaries and newspaper articles. Extensive research lies behind its content. The facts related are about the villagers of Villeret which during WW1 hid seven British soldiers. Three escaped to Britain. Someone betrayed these men. The remaining four were captured and killed. This was in 1916. Villeret is located where the Battle of the Somme raged. The battle, the movement of the front, the numbers killed and such statistics are related. These events are presented in a dry manner. The use of gas is described with these words: Germany launched the first successful chlorine-gas attack in April, north of Ypres, sending a ten-foot-high cloud of lethal lichen-green vapour into the opposite trenches.. Thousands coughed themselves to death. The use of chlorine by the GermanStinkpioniere units was followed by asphyxiating phosgene gas, carbon oxychloride , treacherously invisible and twenty times more deadly. Phosgene did not kill immediately. Death came painfully by drowning, after the victim had retched up several pints of yellow mucus, the much praised phlegm of the British soldier turned lethally against him. (page 102) I compare these lines with the heart-wrenching portrayal of the men fighting in the trenches as the gas engulfs them in A Long Long Way. In Sebastian Barry’s book you are torn apart. In Macintyre’s you are interested. There is a huge difference. I am annoyed when the cover shows a quote from the Washington Times : “wrenching… thoroughly captivating …reminds one of the novels of Michael Ondaatje.” This book is clear and interesting, but not captivating or wrenching and I see no comparison to Ondaatje’s writing. It is a good book about the fighting around the Somme and what happened in one village in this area. One of the hidden British soldiers does fall in love with a woman of the village and they do have a child, but this is not a love story and one scarcely empathizes with any of the characters. Only at the end of the book is one gripped by the story. Who could have betrayed these men? This is discussed in the last chapter. Here it is difficult to put the book down. The reasoning is clear and convincing. And you really do want to know. The book does have two excellent maps and numerous black and white photos! A good book about WW1 and the fighting on the Western Front. Interesting and well researched, but to use adjectives such as passionate and wrenching is to stretch it. Only the last chapter reads like a gripping mystery.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    True story of four British soldiers who found themselves lost behind enemy lines in 1914. For two years the villagers of occupied Villeret hid and protected them as best they could, but in 1916, the soldiers were exposed, rounded up and shot. Who betrayed them and why is the mystery Macintyre tries to uncover through extensive research and interviews with the village survivors and descendents, but the real focus of the book is the unrelenting horror of living under German occupation and the amaz True story of four British soldiers who found themselves lost behind enemy lines in 1914. For two years the villagers of occupied Villeret hid and protected them as best they could, but in 1916, the soldiers were exposed, rounded up and shot. Who betrayed them and why is the mystery Macintyre tries to uncover through extensive research and interviews with the village survivors and descendents, but the real focus of the book is the unrelenting horror of living under German occupation and the amazing stories of the soldiers—one man hid in a wardrobe, another dressed as a girl, one spoke French well enough he simply became a villager. Gripping — reads almost like a mystery novel, and it comes with pictures! Hardly realized I was reading non-fiction.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Soon after the beginning of World War I four British soldiers find themselves stuck behind enemy lines and unable to return to their units, they seek shelter in the French countryside hiding close to German troops just outside a French village. They are soon discovered by the villagers of Villeret, a tiny village occupied by the Germans. The locals take the bold decision to shelter them in the barns and houses around the village, right under the nose of the enemy. Their uniforms are hidden, and t Soon after the beginning of World War I four British soldiers find themselves stuck behind enemy lines and unable to return to their units, they seek shelter in the French countryside hiding close to German troops just outside a French village. They are soon discovered by the villagers of Villeret, a tiny village occupied by the Germans. The locals take the bold decision to shelter them in the barns and houses around the village, right under the nose of the enemy. Their uniforms are hidden, and the villagers provide peasant clothes so they blend in better, and they begin to settle into village life, even helping in the fields with the crops and harvest. Of the four there a natural leader emerges, Robert Digby, he comes from upper middle class society, even though he was a private in the war. He immerses himself in the village life so much he begins a passionate affair with a local girl, who soon falls pregnant, and in time give birth to a daughter. The occupation of the village is harsh. The German army is very demanding of the resources of the village, helping themselves to all produce, emptying entire cellars of wine, demanding that all chickens provide a certain number of eggs a day, including cockerels. Soldiers going to and from from the front are billeted with the villagers too. It is a very harsh life. Soon it is discovered that there is a spy ring in the village, there is no direct link to the British soldiers, but it it thought that Digby might have know of it. The commander starts to ramp up the pressure on all the inhabitants to reveal everything that they have hidden. Then one day they are betrayed. Three of them are rounded up fairly quickly, but Digby escapes. The captured men are 'tried' and sentenced to be shot the following day. Digby's location is revealed and he is caught and is put through the same trial and sentence. No one knows who is the person who is betrayed them, but the whole village turn out at the service the church. The commandant says that they are only allowed to lay one wreath per soldier, and the village responds by giving each of the men a enormous wreath each to spite him. Macintyre has a way of bringing these historical stories to life. He has uncovered masses of dateline the life in the village at the time of the First World War, and using some artistic licence has made a readable narrative of their lives under cover. He has also looked at the evidence to see who it could have been that betrayed the men, partly to answer Digby's daughters question, but also to set the record straight. He has a list of possible suspects, and their motives, and reaches some kind of a conclusion given the evident that can be collected 100 years or so after the event. It is a well written history of four men in World War i, the war where everyone suffered, and it does feel that a little bit of justice has been done.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ian Racey

    I can't offhand think of anything else I've come across dealing with life in the German-occupied portion of France during the First World War, so this was a fascinating change of pace with a lot of flavour: stranded British soldiers living in hiding, doomed wartime romances, conquered living with conquerors, spy rings, conspiracies. One has to be suspicious of any historical narrative whose only real sources are postwar accounts by the locals or family stories handed down from people's long-dead I can't offhand think of anything else I've come across dealing with life in the German-occupied portion of France during the First World War, so this was a fascinating change of pace with a lot of flavour: stranded British soldiers living in hiding, doomed wartime romances, conquered living with conquerors, spy rings, conspiracies. One has to be suspicious of any historical narrative whose only real sources are postwar accounts by the locals or family stories handed down from people's long-dead grandparents, but Macintyre clearly spent a long time on his research and he keeps his speculation to a minimum until the final chapter. In that last chapter, he turns his attention to trying to untangle a mystery that must have been a huge part of his research throughout his preparation for the book, and I think it's a great choice on his part to refrain from mentioning it throughout the main part of the book. I had initially blanched when I saw how much longer the final chapter was than any of its antecedents, especially since it comes after the story is finished, but it represents such a change of tone and does so well tying together a bunch of strands from the main narrative that it wouldn't have occurred to the reader to connect, that I tore right through it. Macintyre has a real talent, with every new theory he presents, to get you to think, "Ah, this must be what actually happened," regardless of the fact that you just thought that exact same thing about the last possibility, that he was ideally suited to write a book with this sort of finish.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 4 Extra_ drama: August 1914: After British decimation at the Battle of Mons, four soldiers hide out in rural France. Read by Tom Goodman-Hill. 2/5: Suspecting that enemy soldiers are posing as civilians, the Germans warn the French not to hide them. 3/5: As the British soldiers settle into the French village, complications arise when one falls in love. 4/5: The German hold on the French village intensifies, but the British soldiers are determined to escape. 5/5: May 1916: The last da From BBC Radio 4 Extra_ drama: August 1914: After British decimation at the Battle of Mons, four soldiers hide out in rural France. Read by Tom Goodman-Hill. 2/5: Suspecting that enemy soldiers are posing as civilians, the Germans warn the French not to hide them. 3/5: As the British soldiers settle into the French village, complications arise when one falls in love. 4/5: The German hold on the French village intensifies, but the British soldiers are determined to escape. 5/5: May 1916: The last days of British soldier Robert Digby and the looming Battle of the Somme. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vs5s7

  6. 4 out of 5

    J.S. Dunn

    Solid nonfiction of an interesting WWI story, British soldiers stranded behind German lines, in a French hamlet that eventually found itself directly in the battle for the Somme. What is striking is the depravity of the 'Boche', the German military, in stripping the French of every morsel of food, personal possession, furnishings, jewelry, and finally, blowing up the village housing and church. Especially when this rapaciousness repeated in 30 years with WWII, on an even greater scale across Eur Solid nonfiction of an interesting WWI story, British soldiers stranded behind German lines, in a French hamlet that eventually found itself directly in the battle for the Somme. What is striking is the depravity of the 'Boche', the German military, in stripping the French of every morsel of food, personal possession, furnishings, jewelry, and finally, blowing up the village housing and church. Especially when this rapaciousness repeated in 30 years with WWII, on an even greater scale across Europe and the USSR. How much of the furnishings, jewelry, objet d'art in today's Germany was STOLEN during the first or second world war? [ never mind the revolting mountains of shoes at the camp museums---]

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Perhaps instead of the subtitle of A True Story of Love and Betrayal in World War I a more apt subtitle for this book would be A True Story of a French Village during World War I. Maybe not as appealing but much more accurate. I found The Englishman's Daughter to be not so much a love story as a story about a small French village during World War I. Reading this book I got a good sense of what life was like for these French peasants before the war and during the German occupation. The affair bet Perhaps instead of the subtitle of A True Story of Love and Betrayal in World War I a more apt subtitle for this book would be A True Story of a French Village during World War I. Maybe not as appealing but much more accurate. I found The Englishman's Daughter to be not so much a love story as a story about a small French village during World War I. Reading this book I got a good sense of what life was like for these French peasants before the war and during the German occupation. The affair between Englishman Robert Digby and French peasant Claire Dessenne only made up a small fraction of the narrative. Information about the daughter that was born as a result of the relationship was even more scarce. The story was really slow and rather dry for at least the first half of the book. There was a lot of set up and explanations about the maneuvers and movements between the armies etc. The story of Robert and Claire does not even really make an appearance until about page 100 and only occupies a handful of pages throughout. The Englishman's Daughter is about so much more than Robert and Claire. If you are looking for a good human interest/love story from WWI keep looking. If you are looking for the true story of what life was like in a small French village that harbored some English soldiers while the Germans occupied the area and what happened to them than this book might be worth the read. **spoiler** As I suspected throughout my reading there was no clear answer to who betrayed the English soldiers to the Germans. Macintyre did do a good job of presenting the likely suspects and working through what little evidence there is to try and determine who actually did turn them in but too many years and too many missing records make that all but impossible.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Troy Sather

    Ben Macintyre’s book The Englishman’s Daughter is a book of war, love, friendship, and betrayal. It is a story about a group of nine ally soldiers that all find their way to a small town in northern France named Villeret after being left behind by there retreating units. The people in this town hide the soldiers and care for them as they hide under the noses of the German soldiers patrolling around the town. When the Germans start to get suspicious, five soldiers leave and four stayed and when b Ben Macintyre’s book The Englishman’s Daughter is a book of war, love, friendship, and betrayal. It is a story about a group of nine ally soldiers that all find their way to a small town in northern France named Villeret after being left behind by there retreating units. The people in this town hide the soldiers and care for them as they hide under the noses of the German soldiers patrolling around the town. When the Germans start to get suspicious, five soldiers leave and four stayed and when back into hiding. Then an unknown townsperson betrayed the soldiers and told the germans the location of the hiding soldiers. The Villeret civilians and the ally soldiers were sentenced to different punishments, some worse than others. But the more you look into the book, the more understandings of the true meaning of the book are revealed. This is a great story and I would recommend reading it. It can be hard to follow but it makes more sense the more your read. Macintyre uses quotes, names of people and cities in the language, and even went to the city to get the right information to best tell the story. He tells more of his experience there in the end of the book. He shares details that honestly don't need to be in the book, but make the story better. It tell the story from being to the end and even more into the future. Macintyre gets to visit this town and the relatives of the past citizens. he uses these experience to get multiple point of view of the story. When he asked who betrayed the soldiers, many people had many different answers. Macintyre was able to take many different version of one story and combine them to make the story in the book The Englishman’s Daughter. Although The Englishman’s Daughter is a story that is not well known, it is much more. It is a story that show that love does not any boundaries and that with love, there is also sacrifice. The citizens of Villeret were loving and caring to the ally soldiers that were passing. The people did not have to help them. But because they helped the soldiers, they sacrificed their safety and freedom. This sacrifice is shown at the end of the book when the different sentences are give for the crimes committed. Although the soldier were eventually found and the punishments carried out, the story still lives on and the deaths of the four brave soldiers were not in vain. Just like most books, there is a deeper meaning than the one you read on the top. To fully understand a book, you need to reread parts you didn’t understand the first time or direct the true meaning of the book. Many book have the same moral and many can have more than one moral, but every book has one. In the book The Englishman’s Daughter there are many morals. Some of which I might not of found yet. I do recommend reading this book if you are into WWI, and try to find some of the morals that i may have left out. Rating: 3.5/5

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    In 1914, the British faked a retreat to draw the Germans out of position to fight them but this retreat became disorganized and many English soldiers were lost behind enemy (German) lines. Most of them surrendered but a few hid with French villagers including four men in Villeret. They quickly assimilated with the villagers and learned the language and customs and became unnoticeable to the German occupiers. One of the men, Robert Digby, fell in love with a village girl and they had a child. Rat In 1914, the British faked a retreat to draw the Germans out of position to fight them but this retreat became disorganized and many English soldiers were lost behind enemy (German) lines. Most of them surrendered but a few hid with French villagers including four men in Villeret. They quickly assimilated with the villagers and learned the language and customs and became unnoticeable to the German occupiers. One of the men, Robert Digby, fell in love with a village girl and they had a child. Rather than unite the village, the girl caused a lot of controversy as her villager grandmother refused to acknowledge her and jealous men and women stirred up gossip. Finally, in 1918 someone reported the men to the German occupiers. The four men were arrested, tried in court as spies, and executed. A few months later, the village was relocated to internment camps in other regions. When the war was over many of the villagers did not come back to Villeret. Several decades later, Ben Macintyre found out about the Villeret story and decided to investigate it. Over several months he interviewed all the surviving Villeret inhabitants and discovered who betrayed the Englishmen. I enjoyed reading this book because it was very interesting and extremely exciting. I did not enjoy the overload of factual information about World War One battles. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys World War One books and escape stories.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    This is an unusual and mysterious true story. 'Unusual' in that tells of four British soldiers who were stranded behind the German lines in the early weeks of the First World War and were then concealed for over eighteen months by the inhabitants of an occupied village until they were seemingly betrayed to the Germans and executed as spies. 'Mysterious' in that one asks why few if any attempts were made by these soldiers to escape - via Belgium perhaps - and also whether they - and in particular This is an unusual and mysterious true story. 'Unusual' in that tells of four British soldiers who were stranded behind the German lines in the early weeks of the First World War and were then concealed for over eighteen months by the inhabitants of an occupied village until they were seemingly betrayed to the Germans and executed as spies. 'Mysterious' in that one asks why few if any attempts were made by these soldiers to escape - via Belgium perhaps - and also whether they - and in particular the main character, Private Robert Digby - were actually involved in spy networks. If so, this would partly explain their fate. The story is given colour by the love affair between Digby and a beautiful French girl which produced a daughter who was still alive when Ben Macintyre researched his book (turn of the Millenium). The book is interesting and informative and does leave you wondering what was actually happening. It also provides a good insight into the experience of the French people who suffered German occupation in the First World War. We have more idea of the experiences of France in the Second World War but this book makes clear how savage and brutal life under German occupation was in the earlier great conflict. Highly recommended.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rick Burin

    Not one of Macintyre’s best: the blurb makes it sound sensational, but this story of a French village in World War One – and the British soldiers hiding there, later to be betrayed – is rather aloof and clunky. In many of Macintyre’s later books, you’re swept along on a tide of bromance and gimmicky but lively prose; here you can really see the mechanics behind the construction: it often feels more like a history essay than a proper book. It’s quite atmospheric and occasionally moving, particula Not one of Macintyre’s best: the blurb makes it sound sensational, but this story of a French village in World War One – and the British soldiers hiding there, later to be betrayed – is rather aloof and clunky. In many of Macintyre’s later books, you’re swept along on a tide of bromance and gimmicky but lively prose; here you can really see the mechanics behind the construction: it often feels more like a history essay than a proper book. It’s quite atmospheric and occasionally moving, particularly the chapter set in 1930, while offering a vaguely alternative angle on a conflict where really everything has been said, but it plods when it should grip, and restricts the tackling of its central mystery – who betrayed the British soldiers? – to a fairly convincing but also short and rather wooly final chapter.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    I've yet to read a Ben Macintyre book I didn't thoroughly enjoy, and The Englishman's Daughter was no exception. Excellent narrative nonfiction, with amazing efforts at reportage and a lovely eye for details. This is a fast read and covers one small but compelling story from WW1, but the intimacy and journalistic immediacy end up delivering deeper meaning than you might get from a more traditional strategy- or battle-focused overview of the war. Because you spend the story focused on a small count I've yet to read a Ben Macintyre book I didn't thoroughly enjoy, and The Englishman's Daughter was no exception. Excellent narrative nonfiction, with amazing efforts at reportage and a lovely eye for details. This is a fast read and covers one small but compelling story from WW1, but the intimacy and journalistic immediacy end up delivering deeper meaning than you might get from a more traditional strategy- or battle-focused overview of the war. Because you spend the story focused on a small country village, with the foibles and decency of recognizable normal people, the relatively short stretches at the end covering the decimation of the countryside are all the more powerful.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peter Burton

    An interesting story but better suited for a smaller monogram.I didn’t know much about what happened behind the lines to French villagers under German control and was intrigued by a tale of some British soldiers left behind when the Allies retreated in September 1914.The soldiers were allowed by the villagers in merge into their lives as the best way to hide them.This was explained in a fairly leisurely way but the story became more interesting when somebody betrayed them.Their execution in 1916 An interesting story but better suited for a smaller monogram.I didn’t know much about what happened behind the lines to French villagers under German control and was intrigued by a tale of some British soldiers left behind when the Allies retreated in September 1914.The soldiers were allowed by the villagers in merge into their lives as the best way to hide them.This was explained in a fairly leisurely way but the story became more interesting when somebody betrayed them.Their execution in 1916 and the aftermath was poignant and powerful.information about spy rings was also intriguing.Overall a good story but too long.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Actual score 2.5⭐️. Not the most thrilling read, you can tell it’s written by a journalist as it’s quite a flat fact based book. It is basically the story of a group if allied soldiers trapped behind enemy lines, 1 of the soldiers falls in love with a French girl, the French girls other live interest gets jealous and betrays the soldiers. Some of the information the book goes into is pure padding out the book. I’m glad I read it as I’ve not heard of this story before and the soldiers involved wer Actual score 2.5⭐️. Not the most thrilling read, you can tell it’s written by a journalist as it’s quite a flat fact based book. It is basically the story of a group if allied soldiers trapped behind enemy lines, 1 of the soldiers falls in love with a French girl, the French girls other live interest gets jealous and betrays the soldiers. Some of the information the book goes into is pure padding out the book. I’m glad I read it as I’ve not heard of this story before and the soldiers involved were local to me. Would I recommend it, yeah it’s worth a read but don’t expect much, the style of writing doesn’t do the incredible story justice.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Peter Chleboun

    A well researched piece of work. Ben MacIntyre really knows how to bring the past to life. We know of the Great War as the slaughter in the trenches but rarely do we think about how it came to pass. The early description of the very start in 1914 was fascinating - and the decline into the barbarity and mass wonton destruction was well covered. Having recently read the story of Harry Patch it was interesting to read this very different story and realise that people's experience of war is completel A well researched piece of work. Ben MacIntyre really knows how to bring the past to life. We know of the Great War as the slaughter in the trenches but rarely do we think about how it came to pass. The early description of the very start in 1914 was fascinating - and the decline into the barbarity and mass wonton destruction was well covered. Having recently read the story of Harry Patch it was interesting to read this very different story and realise that people's experience of war is completely unique - but the scars stay with humanity for a long time afterwards. Highly recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn (in SC) C234D

    I finished this book on New Year's Day in 2003. What I noted at the time: Story of four English soldiers forced to hide in a French village during WWI. One of them falls in love with a village girl, who has his child. Someone betrays the soldiers, and they are shot. The author goes over evidence and speaks with survivors and family members, trying to figure out who betrayed them. Describes atrocities of war. Well done. I finished this book on New Year's Day in 2003. What I noted at the time: Story of four English soldiers forced to hide in a French village during WWI. One of them falls in love with a village girl, who has his child. Someone betrays the soldiers, and they are shot. The author goes over evidence and speaks with survivors and family members, trying to figure out who betrayed them. Describes atrocities of war. Well done.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Leah Beecher

    I figured out pretty quickly this was a historical expose, not a historical fiction. This means the author literally tells the story like a historical reporter, not a historical author. The first quarter of the book was was really interesting; I knew next to nothing about WW1. However the distant, facts only, narrative did not hold my interest. I think I need to find a well research historical fiction placed during WW1 next. I would welcome any suggestions.

  18. 5 out of 5

    James Lewis

    This is early Ben Macintyre, and the book suffers from the fact that you know from the prologue how it ends. But wait! Macintyre probes the hidden postscript to this story, whodunnit it, and his investigation is half of what makes this book so valuable. The other half—the more important part—is that it puts us in the No-man's-land of WW1 France as few other recent books have. Those of us addicted to Macintyre's WW2 spy novels may at first be disappointed ... but read on. This is early Ben Macintyre, and the book suffers from the fact that you know from the prologue how it ends. But wait! Macintyre probes the hidden postscript to this story, whodunnit it, and his investigation is half of what makes this book so valuable. The other half—the more important part—is that it puts us in the No-man's-land of WW1 France as few other recent books have. Those of us addicted to Macintyre's WW2 spy novels may at first be disappointed ... but read on.

  19. 5 out of 5

    P

    True story of a WWI incident that took place over time. The writer did a good job of placing all the facts while fleshing out the personalities of the people involved. The writer is obviously not just passionate about history but has a passion for developing the entire story. I will look for other books by this author.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Albert Gidari

    It's a great story but a tedious read in parts. The afterword was very interesting and the story probably could have been better told through the research and interviews. Still, worth reading and I learned a few new things about WWI and its local impacts on French village life during and after the war. It's a great story but a tedious read in parts. The afterword was very interesting and the story probably could have been better told through the research and interviews. Still, worth reading and I learned a few new things about WWI and its local impacts on French village life during and after the war.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joe Sadler

    A book about a small group of English soldiers trapped behind enemy lines during WW1, and how one town sheltered them from discovery until it all went wrong. It is a story of incredible courage equal to anything that happened in the trenches, and of the limits of human endurance when faced with unbelievable privation. A beautiful book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Roger

    There are not many books I read where I feel I knew nothing about the subject before. I have read much on WW1 but its always been through the British lens. Here is a whole new exploration and a very unpleasant one at that. Delivered as a sort of detective story with multiple twists and turns.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Murray

    My short review is this: "The Englishman's Daughter", one of Macintyre's earlier books, is as dynamic, well-written and compelling as his later war-related non-fiction works. Very sad at times, but truly an enjoyable read. My short review is this: "The Englishman's Daughter", one of Macintyre's earlier books, is as dynamic, well-written and compelling as his later war-related non-fiction works. Very sad at times, but truly an enjoyable read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Green

    A truly amazing tale of love & betrayal during the First World War. It has been well researched and put together to read as a story. It is such a good read - bringing together the emotions & social history of one small village in France during a very difficult time for all.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Billed as a love story but not at all. It is a snapshot of the effects of WWI on a small French village. British soldiers are secreted and the German army moves in. Sad tale that was repeated all over France and then again during WWII. Not particularly well written.

  26. 5 out of 5

    DR THOM KLEISS

    Good genuine Macintyre stuff Well written and apparently also thoroughly researched ‘human interest’ story - lots to learn about German occupation of the near front in northern France in WW1

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nanny Almquist

    I read this maybe 10 years ago. I did finish it, but it was not a book that stayed with me. I've posted it because when I saw the title it jogged my memory and when I read the synopses I realized that I had read the book. I read this maybe 10 years ago. I did finish it, but it was not a book that stayed with me. I've posted it because when I saw the title it jogged my memory and when I read the synopses I realized that I had read the book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Truth is often stranger - and better - than fiction. This is certainly true of this story. Be warned though, you will need a box of tissues handy, as it is a truly tragic tale. It also brings home to the reader the awful conditions in which ordinary citizens lived in occupied territory.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kristine Shields

    This book was unique and interesting because of the deep historical information it had uncovered about its characters. However, because the authors were true to presenting only known facts, the story was a bit dry.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    3.5. This took me a while to read because the beginning was rather dry. It is interesting to see an early book written by Ben Macintyre and to see how his style has changed. WWI is a war that I don't know a great deal about. This book highlighted the plight of civilians in the war zone. 3.5. This took me a while to read because the beginning was rather dry. It is interesting to see an early book written by Ben Macintyre and to see how his style has changed. WWI is a war that I don't know a great deal about. This book highlighted the plight of civilians in the war zone.

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