War makes for difficult decisions.
At the beginning of the Second World War, after the fall of France, Churchill decided to demilitarize the Channel Islands and allow their occupation by the Germans because of their proximity to the Occupied French coast. The events that followed are still being elucidated in the decade since the opening of the archives.
In War on the Margins, we see the effects of the occupation upon marginalized persons such as clerk Marlene Zimmer, the child of a deceased Jewish father and Gentile mother, Claude Cahun (Lucille Schwob) and Marcel Moore (Suzanne Malherbe),Surrealist artists and longtime lovers, and Peter, an escaped Polish slave worker. We follow Suzanne and Lucille in their uniquely Surrealist Resistance activities and as they suffer in German military prison, and revisit Marlene, hiding from her own local authorities, as she slowly realizes that the decisions she has made resulted in the imprisonment of one woman and the saving of the life of another.
This is an unforgettable read about the effects that WW11 had on the lives of the people of Jersey. To read it is to weep at the atrocities and unfairness, to rage at how this was allowed to happen, but ultimately to rejoice in the determined survival spirit that shone through. The fact that these events really took place and that they are not the invention of the author makes it all the more heart wrenching to read. Libby Cone has written her book in a sensitive manner and even allowed moments of humour to creep in. The author also used actual radio broadcasts of the time and several of the book’s characters were real people, not inventions from Cone’s mind, which makes the book all the more poignant.