Review: The Peaceful Village, by Paulette Mahurin


book cover

During the German occupation of France, nestled in the lush, verdant countryside in the Haute-Vienne department of central France was the peaceful village of Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a community where villagers woke to the medley of nature’s songs: roosters crowing, birds chirping, cats purring, and cows shuffling out to pasture. The people who lived there loved the tranquil nature of their beautiful home, a tranquility that existed year-round. Even with the German occupation and Oradour-sur-Glane being incorporated as part of Vichy France, Oradour – the village with cafés, shops, and a commuter tram to Limoges – remained relatively untouched by the stress of the occupation.

While Oradour enjoyed the lack of German presence, twenty-two kilometers to the northwest in Limoges, the Germans were reacting with increasing cruelty to organized attacks on their soldiers by the armed resistance organization Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP). Headed by Georges Guingouin, the Limoges FTP was considered the most effective of the French Resistance groups. Guingouin’s missions fueled the German military to kill and incarcerate in concentration camps anyone perceived as supporters or sympathizers of the Resistance.

Up until the middle of 1944, the German anti-partisan actions in France never rose to the level of brutality or number of civilian casualties that had occurred in eastern Europe. A little before the Allies landed in Normandy, that changed, when German officers stationed on the Eastern Front were transferred to France. It was then that FTP’s increasing efforts to disrupt German communications and supply lines was met with disproportionate counter attacks, involving civilians. Guingouin’s response was to target German officers. When Guingouin set his sights on two particular German officers, all hell broke loose.

Based on actual events as told by survivors, The Peaceful Village is the story of the unfolding of the events that led up to one of the biggest World War II massacres on French soil. But it is not simply a story of Nazi brutality and the futility of war, it is a story of love. The love of family. The love of neighbor. The love of country. Compassion and courage burn from the pages as the villagers’ stories come alive. Written by the international bestselling author of The Seven Year Dress, Paulette Mahurin, this book is an homage to the villagers who lived and loved in Oradour-sur-Glane.


Disclaimer: Although I received an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley, the opinions below are my own.

I rarely choose to review independently published fiction as I find the quality of such to be hit and miss. But when I saw the subject matter of The Peaceful Village on NetGalley, I knew I had to take the chance. I can’t remember how or when I came across the story of Oradour-sur-Glane – possibly on a news website – but I’d heard enough to recognize the location’s name. Oradour-sur-Glane in France, much like Lidici in the modern-day Czech Republic, is a permanent memorial to the murder of inhabitants by the Nazis.

This book focuses on a woman named Marguerite and the work she does at a local church in the community. It’s no spoiler to say she is one of the few survivors. She would later testify on the events of 10th June 1944. The first half of the novel looks at the six months leading up to that day. These chapters convey the sense of normalcy, as much as there can be, in the so-called “Free France” aka Vichy France. Because of its location, the village was essentially ignored by the Nazis. Many villagers were convinced that “It won’t happen here,” whenever they heard of bad events happening elsewhere. Perhaps it was naivete, or maybe they hoped if they said it enough it would stay true. Readers not only read the thoughts of Marguerite; we also meet the mayor, the doctor, and the clergy among others including refugees. We also get scenes with various Nazis, including Klaus Barbie himself.

The second half contains the events of the afternoon of June 10th. It begins with the order for retaliation for the kidnap of two Nazi officers and the subsequent murder of one. The other escapes and, according to the text, names Oradour-sur-Glane as the location of his abduction. What follows is the rounding up of the villagers, ostensibly for an identification check, and then Marguerite’s perspective of the massacre. Is it easy reading? Not exactly. But I don’t think it should be. What I later discovered is that some of the words author Paulette Mahurin has the characters speak ARE actual quotes from survivors. I was surprised at how much did appear to have been taken from factual reports.

If there’s a downside to the book it’s that I would’ve loved to have seen a bibliography or a list of sources. Oradour-sur-Glane should NOT be forgotten, and I think such a list would help readers learn more.


Rating: 5 out of 5.



Publication Date: 24 May 2022

Book Information



author photo

Paulette Mahurin is a best selling literary fiction and historical fiction novelist. She lives with her husband Terry and two dogs, Max and Bella, in Ventura County, California. She grew up in West Los Angeles and attended UCLA, where she received a Master’s Degree in Science.

Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine. Her second novel, His Name Was Ben, originally written as an award winning short story while she was in college and later expanded into a novel, rose to bestseller lists its second week out. Her third novel, To Live Out Loud, won international critical acclaim and made it to multiple sites as favorite read book of 2015. Her fourth book, The Seven Year Dress, made it to the top ten bestseller lists on Amazon U.S., Amazon U.K. and Amazon Australia. Her fifth book, The Day I Saw The Hummingbird, was released in 2017 to rave reviews. Her sixth book, A Different Kind of Angel, was released in August, 2018.

Semi-retired, she continues to work part-time as a Nurse Practitioner in Ventura County. When she’s not writing, she does pro-bono consultation work with women with cancer, works in the Westminster Free Clinic as a volunteer provider, volunteers as a mediator in the Ventura County Courthouse for small claims cases, and involves herself, along with her husband, in dog rescue. Profits from her books go to help rescue dogs from kill shelters.

Paulette Mahurin


black and white photograph of an older woman with white/gray hair
Madam Rouffanche, photograph obtained from the National World War Two Museum

Much of The Peaceful Village is written from the perspective of Madam Marguerite Rouffanche, who lost the majority of her family during the massacre of Oredour-sur-Glane.

Usually, I would write a small description of what happened on June 10th, 1944. Instead, I encourage you to view the following websites:

Oradour-sur-Glane, 10th June 1944

Oradour-sur-Glane: Martyred Village (The National WWII Museum: New Orleans)

Oradour-sur-Glane (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Within the pages of each website you will find photographs of the village both before and after, the faces of those who were murdered and who escaped, reports of the trial in Bordeaux in 1953, and the various explanations given for the massacre.

Upon reading these websites, I found much to substantiate the details given in the novel. I won’t lie and say they’re easy to read, but I believe they should be read. At least take a look at the photographs. On many of the memorial plaques is written the phrase, “Recueillez-vous.” Collect your thoughts. I ask that you do that too.

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