Saturday, September 29, 2012

Becoming Clementine

Becoming Clementine, by Jennifer Niven.

Each of the men wore a pistol on his belt and extra magazines, and each one carried a large rucksack. I wished I had my pistol, the one they'd issued me for the B-17, but they'd taken it away once we landed at Prestwick.

For a while we followed a creek bed, ducking through brush and bramble, and when this ended we kept pushing forward through the trees. I thought: I am in a forest in France. I am running from the Germans. I'm with strange men I barely know. I am a weapon of this war.

This novel is the third book in the Velva Jean series, the first two (of which I haven't read) being Velva Jean Learns to Drive and Velva Jean Learns to Fly. This one, however, focuses on World War II, and Velva Jean's part in it, in which she ends up in France masquerading as a French widow named Clementine Roux.

Synopsis from the publisher:
It's summer 1944 and Velva Jean has just become the second woman in history to pilot a bomber across the Atlantic Ocean as a member of the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots). After flying the B-17 Flying Fortress into Prestwick, Scotland, she volunteers to copilot a plane carrying special agents to their drop spot over Normandy. Her personal motivation: to find her brother Johnny Clay who is missing in action. But when the plane is shot down over France and only Velva Jean and five agents survive, she is forced to become a fighter; to become a spy; to become Clementine Roux. As she loses herself in her new identity, she also loses her heart: falling in love with her fellow agent, Emile, a handsome and mysterious Frenchman with secret of his own. When Clementine ends up in the most brutal prison in Paris, trying to help Emile and the team rescue and operative known only as "Swan," she discovers the depths of human curelty, the triumph of her own spirit, and the bravery of her team, who will stop at nothing to carry out their mission. And all the while she searches for her brother. Will she find him? And, at the end of her adventure, will she be able to find herself again?
This book was definitely interesting, perhaps more so to me because I have been to Paris recently and that is where Clementine (Velva Jean) ends up for a good chunk of the novel. The author, too, based the story on tales of her own grandfather when he served in the war, which helps to make the novel more "authentic." The characters that Velva Jean meets on her journey, too, are memorable, and you will find herself rooting for her and Emile's romance to survive, even though they battle the most unlikeliest of circumstances.

3.5 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel to review. The opinions listed here, however, are my own.


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