Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Friday's Featured Fiction: On Pain of Death by Jan Rehner

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Friday's Featured Fiction: On Pain of Death by Jan Rehner

On Pain of Death
by Jan Rehner
Sumach Press, 2007
300 pages
$18.95

Trapped in Paris during the German Occupation, Canadian Sorbonne student Juliette Benoit finds her life in tatters. She has had to abandon her Canadian identity for fear of arrest, her lover has disappeared without a trace, and a good Jewish friend has been taken away to Drancy, a German transit camp, leaving her little sister behind in Juliette's care. One step ahead of the Gestapo, Juliette obtains a new identity and joins an escape network of the French Resistance to bring the young girl out of France to safety. Meanwhile, in the village of St-Léger, Gabrielle Aubin's husband is wrongfully executed for the murder of a German soldier. Hoping to track down the true killer, Gabrielle joins the Resistance.

The two women's lives become inalterably intertwined when they discover each other while hiding out in a nunnery in Beaune. When they flee to the hills to work with a Resistance group in the Morvan forest, they find they share a common link to the past, a secret that eventually leads to a shocking revelation.

With consummate skill, Rehner keeps the reader wholly engaged as she interweaves the stories of the two through harrowing plot twists. Born of Rehner's intimate knowledge of the period and setting, On Pain of Death is redolent with rich historical detail. She vividly brings to life the harsh realities of life in France under the German Occupation, as well as the courageous achievements of those who fought in the lines of the Resistance.

Jan Rehner teaches academic and professional writing at York University. She has travelled to France many times, and visited many local French Resistance museums. Her previous publications include poetry and academic works as well as her first mystery, Just Murder, which won the 2004 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel.

The launch for On Pain of Death will be held at Alliance Francaise (24 Spadina Road) on Thursday, September 20 at 7:30pm.

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