A very difficult book to read and definitely not for the sensitive reader. Moorehead splits her book into 2 parts. The first part tells us how quickly the French Army collapsed under German attack, life in occupied France, the growth of the Resistance Movement, and the background of the Frenchwomen involved in the Resistance.
It is the second part that becomes so difficult to read. The women are placed on a train that carries them to Auschwitz/Birkenaur, and they develop a strong friendship that enables them to keep their humanity, their decency, and finally allows a very few of them to survive. Moorehead gives graphic descriptions of how prisoners in the concentration camps were made to suffer at the hands of the SS as well as by other prisoners who were trying to survive the terrible conditions of the camps. The last chapter is one of the hardest to read - the prisoners are free and have returned to their homes to learn that no one wants to listen to them, to hear their experiences. The general attitude is "the war is over, let's move on." One woman meets the gendarme who betrayed her to the Germans on the street, and is shocked when he smiles at her and holds out his hand. Another woman learns that the two gendarmes who betrayed her and her husband fought the Germans at the end of the war and are immune from prosecution. We get a sense of their frustration as many of the guilty are not punished but go on to have good lives. All in all, an important book but one that is hard to read and almost impossible to put down. Highly recommended but not for the sensitive reader. (less)