When Daniel Mackenzie was ten he found, hidden in his mother’s wardrobe a photograph of a beautiful girl, signed Françoise. His mother, Margo reluctantly tells him that the girl is his half French, half English grandmother. Françoise, a nineteen year old student in Paris when Hitler invaded, was recruited into the dangerous world of the Resistance as an escort for escaped prisoners and men on the run. For four years, under the noses of the Gestapo she led the escapees by train and on foot from the Cognac region through occupied France to Biarritz and the heavily guarded foothills of the Pyrennees. From there the men were taken by guides over the mountains into Spain for repatriation. Margo tells Daniel that his brave grandmother was executed by the Gestapo in the last days of the war and over the next seven years she refuses to say more. Daniel’s curiosity becomes an obsession. He wants to know about his heritage and there are too many unanswered questions in his mother’s story. Madame Liberté’s story begins with Daniel recording a television war documentary episode that changes everything. He knows now that his mother is hiding a terrible secret of her own. He confronts her with the recording, demands the truth and so peels away the layers of lies to uncover a family history of love and courage, deceit and treachery that binds together the Ambérac Cognac and Mackenzie Whisky families.
Published: 27 September 2013
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