Half in Shadow


From the bestselling author of In a Field of Blue comes an unforgettable novel about courage, love, and consequences at the dawn of World War I. 1915. In German-occupied Belgium, a tragic loss forces Josephine Descharmes to navigate dangerous new territory. By day it’s compliance, serving German officers at the Hotel Métropole. By night it’s resistance, working with her brothers underground to help Allied soldiers and civilians cross the border into Holland. Both paths put her and her family at great risk. As Josephine struggles to keep her family safe, Arthur, a grief-stricken English soldier trapped behind enemy lines, finds purpose and hope with Josephine and her work. Meanwhile, Franz, a German officer remorseful for the casualties of war, offers her protection and opportunity. These two men from opposing sides will open her heart and test her loyalties. Amid the sorrows of war and threats of mortal danger and betrayal, Josephine must steer her own fate. In a country deprived of freedom, she will make an impossible choice—one that will forever impact the family she cherishes and the man she loves.

Often when I’m asked why I’ve chosen particular themes, I talk about a “connection” with places, events, or people that sparks an idea. For this book, the first connection was with sixteen-year-old Private Abraham Bevistein, from the Middlesex Regiment in WWI, who gave a false name and lied about his age when he signed up for war. He suffered injury and severe anxiety for which he was hospitalised. When later he wandered away from the trenches he was put on trial and executed for desertion. Oftentimes these soldiers had been paralyzed by fear, disorientated by the noise and chaos of battle around them, or suffering a nervous breakdown or shell shock, the condition yet to be fully explored.
My second connection was with Leuven (formerly known by the French name of Louvain) in Belgium where the Catholic university library lost over two hundred thousand precious manuscripts and pieces of art in WWI.   This led me to read in detail about Belgium’s story of invasion, which seemed obscured by many other English-written texts regarding major events, tragedies, and acts of heroism from the period. Resistance fighters secretly printed and distributed newspapers to inform the Belgians of news from abroad as well as helping injured soldiers escape into Holland with details about the privations and losses they were experiencing under occupation and other intelligence to aid the Allies.

 Hotel de Ville Louvain Belgium, September 1914

Thank you, Jodi Warshaw and the team at Lake Union for the incredible editing, art, marketing, and production. The book reached #1 spots in multiple categories.

My thanks also to Brilliance Audio and the excellent narration and acting by Sarah Naughton and Alex Wyndham who brought the characters to life.



© Gemma Liviero 2018

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