In A Good Place To Hide: How One French Village Saved Thousands of Lives During World War II, Peter Grose describes how a population with its own experience of religious persecution and two charismatic pastors with unlikely international connections turned isolated community in the upper Loire Valley into a haven for Jews and other refugees during World War II.
A Good Place To Hide combines solid historical research with the narrative tension of a spy novel. Grose roots the story of Le Chambon and its neighboring villages in the experience of French Huguenots as a religious minority, the relationship between the Vichy government and Germany, and growing French resistance against the Nazis. He traces the communities’ gradual shift from hiding refugees to helping them escape into Switzerland. But the heart of the book lies in the stories of individuals, often told in their words, using journals, letters, memoirs and interviews. A 17-year-old Jewish office machine repairman who became a master forger of identity papers. A teenage girl who carried money from one Resistance cell to another, right under German noses. A mother of five who scoured the countryside for safe houses. Middle-aged refugees who disguised themselves as Boy Scouts and hiked toward freedom. The activist pastor who inspired the community to offer sanctuary with a literal reading of one Old Testament verse.
In the vein of Schindler’s List, A Good Place To Hide is an inspiring account of the extraordinary courage of ordinary people.
This review appeared previously in Shelf Awareness for Readers