The question being asked of you as a reader is what would you do if the country you were fighting for was defeated without giving you the chance to at least feel that you had tried to defend her. Mathieu and his fellow soldiers are all asking themselves that question while others who are not in uniform still face the difficult matter of deciding on their own ability to sucumb to cowardice.
The book is written in an easier style with diary dates forming chapters and breaks in paragraphs as a way of indicating when there is a shift in character, mood or location.
Bullet points between pages 112 – 190
* Mathieu is caught between a rock and a hard place finding himself shunned by his fellow soldiers because they view him as an intellectual and somehow better than them and no matter what he does he cannot fit in and even when he tries to get drunk he is unable to match the excesses of the other troops
* All the time the Germans are getting closer and although the troops have somehow gone into denial about the moment they will face the enemy and concentrate just on the idea of peace and stop thinking of fighting almost completely
* Back in Paris Daniel meets Phillipe – talk about a small world – and is instanly captivated by the young man who is considering suicide but then allows himself to be taken back to Daniel’s flat and spoken to in a way that the older man hopes will lead to a seduction and a relationship that might have some depth to it
* Back in the village Mathieu and the troops are disturbed to see a nearby village burning and then a squad of fighters enters the village and challenges anyone to join them and fight off the Germans when they do finally arrive
The number of questions are growing with the most obvious being – what happened to Marcelle? Has Boris fled to England and what will happen to Mathiue when the Germans do finally arrive? More tomorrow…