The Background at The Fortress by Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey

    This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

    The Background of The Fortress

    First of all, the Vercors Mountains. Breathtakingly beautiful, dangerous, a natural playground for all extreme sport lovers. Rock climbing, canyoning, spelunking, skiing, it’s all there. But for me, it’s home. It’s where my ancestors have lived and are buried, under those same cliffs.

    Then, the history. The Vercors is a dream of freedom, a heroic battle, a military disaster, but also redemptive last stand. Many military and history books have been written on the subject, but no fiction accounts, and in fact, I was frustrated by the dryness of the accounts which I felt did not reflect the human dimension of that battle. When Pierre Dalloz and Jean Prévost conceived of the Plan des Montagnards for the Vercors in 1941, France was defeated, its army disbanded, its people divided and demoralized. Yet three years later, a small force was growing beyond the cliff, entrusted by the Allies with a mission to disrupt German movements after Overlord in Normandy and Anvil on the Mediterranean coast. But the dream fell short, with no Mediterranean landing or backup. The paratroopers who did come were German. The small army of the Vercors, the first Maquis of France, its first free republic under Nazi occupation, was abandoned to its fate. For six weeks, they fought with fierce and sometimes desperate courage a force twenty times superior in size, equipment, and training. They were slaughtered, even tortured in the mountain’s sawmills. Hundreds were deported to their death. Yet the survivors regrouped and joined the FFI to continue the fight, eventually joining the liberation armies all the way to Germany.

    Finally, my own family history. Three of my uncles were condemned to death for collaborating with the Vichy government and betraying C2, a Resistance camp, to the Nazis. Their sentences were later commuted to forced labor, but the national disgrace verdict stood, and they had to leave the area to avoid being murdered. Despite the death threats, my father— who had fought with honor during the war—decided to stay. The legacy was hard to overcome in a community mauled by four years of occupation and violence, and seventy years later, my last name remains associated with the destruction of the Maquis of Malleval.

    And then, there are also small things, like a Sten machine gun I found in the mud of a summer creek, with this inscription, Pour ma Suzon Cherie, June 12, 1944; or the story of a fifteen-year old boy, a resistant fighter whose name is forgotten, who was tortured and murdered by the Nazis in the summer of 1944.

    The war has not made much of difference in Alix’s life. Her father has seen to it that she grows up unaware, unworried, but safe in her tiny village under the cliffs of the Vercors. All around her he has built a fortress whose walls are impregnable—until the 27th of April, 1944. That day he makes a stupid mistake up on the cliff, and the walls of the Fortress start crashing down. Reality breaks into Alix’s life with unrelenting violence, unforeseen possibilities. From now on, every decision she makes will mean life or death.

    Six weeks before D-Days, a thousand kilometers from the beaches of Normandy.

    There are no generals in the French Vercors, just a handful of men and women against the Nazi war machine. They come from Bretagne, Paris, and Slovenia, and the villages up on the cliff. They are the Fortress.

    Enjoy an Excerpt

    When she looked up, the cart had rounded the curve, and the way ahead was wide open. In a minute they would leave the cliff Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey 14 behind. She stopped the horses and turned around, expecting to see her father on top of the log pile. “Papa?” she called. There was no response. Her eyes darted from one place to another. On the wall against the blue sky, behind the cart, down the road, as far as it went along the rock face. “Papa?” she called again. He was there a second ago…right there, he was standing right there…. “Papa,” she cried. “Where are you?” Then she saw Mikko, two paws on the wall, sniffing. And her hands started to shake. “Papa,” she said, but no sound came out. “Papa, come back.”

    About the Author: Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey was born in the French Alps, moved to the United States twenty-five years later, and currently lives in the mountains of Virginia with her husband, two daughters, and Mikko.

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  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. James Robert says

    Thanks so much for bringing to our attention another great book out there to read. I appreciate hearing about them since I have so many readers in my family.

  3. Linda Romer says

    The Fortress sounds like a good read, thank you.

  4. I’ve really enjoyed following the tour for The Fortress, it sounds like a book I will love and I can’t wait to check it out. Thanks for sharing all of the great posts along the way and for the awesome giveaway 🙂

  5. Sounds like a great read.

  6. Angelica Dimeo says

    what interesting cover art

  7. I love the cover art.

  8. Rhonda Rudd says

    Thanks so much for hosting. Sounds like a great and interresting read.

  9. Angelica Dimeo says

    what a good plot for this book.

  10. Sounds like a great read!

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