The best French Resistance books 📚

Browse the best books on the French Resistance as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Mistress of the Ritz

Mistress of the Ritz

By Melanie Benjamin

Why this book?

Manager of the Paris Ritz is a prestigious position, and the American wife of the Frenchman who is the manager leads a charmed life there – until the Nazi invasion of Paris. Once the Gestapo sets up their headquarters at the Ritz, the couple must negotiate their new, uncomfortable circumstances. As the war escalates, the danger to the American woman increases, especially since she has become involved with the Resistance. When the war is over, the American woman, Paris, and Parisians are not the same. Based on real people, this historical novel presents a heartbreaking picture of the aftermath of…

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Book cover of A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France

By Caroline Moorehead

Why this book?

This fascinating book follows 230 women, some more in-depth than others, who were imprisoned outside Paris for crimes of resistance activities. I began reading it as research and became captivated by the stories, especially the devotion the women developed for one another. I felt a deep connection to each of the prisoners as I climbed into their shoes, cheering for them to survive while fearing they would not. (The Appendix lists the 49 who survived if you want to know in advance. I didn’t.) It’s difficult to grasp what they endured over an unimaginable period of time. Just the sheer…
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Book cover of An American Heroine in the French Resistance: The Diary and Memoir of Virginia d'Albert-Lake

An American Heroine in the French Resistance: The Diary and Memoir of Virginia d'Albert-Lake

By Virginia d'Albert-Lake

Why this book?

Edited by historian Judy Barrett Litoff, who wrote a comprehensive introduction outlining Virginia d’Albert-Lake’s war, this memoir recounts the dramatic experience of a rare American woman resistance agent in occupied France. Working with the legendary Comet escape line, she and her French husband helped shelter and move 66 Allied airmen to safety. But in 1944, a German question answered in her American accent got her sent straight to the Gestapo and then to Ravensbrück concentration camp. Virginia d’Albert-Lake tells her amazing story of life on the edge from the pages of her diary.

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The best non-fiction books by women on women in WWII

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Book cover of Sisters in the Resistance: How Women Fought to Free France, 1940-1945

Sisters in the Resistance: How Women Fought to Free France, 1940-1945

By Margaret Collins Weitz

Why this book?

Margaret Collins Weitz interviewed more than 80 women (and some men) who worked in the French Resistance during the Nazi Occupation. From this foundation, she brings forth the detailed accounts of a variety of women, from the well-known Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, to rarely heard students, nurses, and even a nun. Their stories are told through their own voices, framed by the author in a well-researched context. Danger, tension, conflict, and loss echo through the pages, but at the core of it also is the courage the women found in themselves when their nation was in need.

From the list:

The best non-fiction books by women on women in WWII

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Book cover of The Secret Stealers

The Secret Stealers

By Jane Healey

Why this book?

I’ve become great friends with Healey over the years due to us having the same publisher, and we write similar historical fiction in that we love telling WWII from the female perspective. Honestly, all Jane’s WWII novels are brilliant, but this is my favorite of hers. Her characters are impossible not to love, and we truly see this moment in history through the eyes of women – I can’t get enough of historical feminism! If you want to read about women doing incredible jobs during the war, this is the book for you.

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Book cover of A Hero of France

A Hero of France

By Alan Furst

Why this book?

Je suis las,” is the first human utterance of A Hero of France. “I am tired of the way I have to live my life.” In the lights and shadows of Alan Furst’s Europe at war the challenges are almost elegant in their quiet persistence, and their demands for endurance through the endless nights of the European underground. Occupied France is often the transit point through the center of it all. Paris is the delicate city of hard dangers and the closed doors upon, or hidden stairways to, the French Resistance. Mathieu, without a surname, is the…

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