After Hell Farm and Wind of Wrath, Jacques Mazeau delivers its third part: Bitter harvests. We thus find the domain of Vernière, a small end of the world, lost in the Nièvre where machinations, revenge and other rural intrigues continue against the backdrop of the beginning of the Second World War.
The action of the novel begins in June 1940 when the German army militarily invests the small town of La Charité-sur-Loire. The inhabitants are not long in suffering the effects of the occupation: rationing, privatizations and other requisitions which revolt Emma in her domain of La Vernière while her husband remains impassive and hesitant in the face of events. Others are immediately won over by the desire to resist, such as young Marcel, orphaned and taken in by Emma and his family, or even Marthe who dreams of freedom and love from her brothel. Finally, for some, the arrival of the Germans appears to be an inevitable opportunity for revenge in order to settle their scores.
So, the time for choice has come. What attitude will each adopt in the face of what some call the "invader" when others welcome the advent of a new France under the aegis of Marshal Pétain: resistance, collaboration or wait-and-see policy. Passion and feelings will be for a lot in this choice.
A large rural fresco
Love, hatred and betrayal still make up this large rural fresco by Jacques Mazeau as the German occupiers take up residence in the Nièvre area. The author thus inked his story in the first half of the Second World War. And it is with interest that the revelations and intrigues continue. More than the historical aspect of the novel which remains in the background, Jacques Mazeau is primarily interested in the psychological relationships between the various protagonists and they are legion. A good part of the society of the Nivernais region and beyond is thus represented, from simple farmers and workers to estate managers, from prostitutes to bourgeois notables, including doctors, German officers, Parisian upstarts and many more. others. And it is with brio that the author portrays this rich palette of characters where each one tries to get out of the game against the occupier. Bitter harvests is thus a novel in which one takes pleasure in following the evolution of the various protagonists in the face of the many essentially sentimental reversals of the situation - would the book be more aimed at a female readership? We can think so.
Jacques Mazeau, Bitter Harvests, L’Archipel, 2011.