"When would I do this? When would you be willing to risk your child's life as well as your own?"
Death and Loss
“Lost. It makes it sounds as if I misplace my loved ones; perhaps I left them where they don’t belong and then turned away, too confused to retrace my steps.” Page 1
“Disappearance reminds us to notice, transience to cherish, fragility to defend.”
“Because of them, I know now what matters, and it is not what I have lost. It is my memories. Wounds heal. Love lasts. We remain.” Page 438
SecretsEach of the main characters holds on to a host of secrets throughout and beyond the war. Right at the start of the novel Isabelle assures Sophie of her ability to keep a secret:
“Me? I am the best of secret keepers.” Page 64
“’Your daughter will not starve this winter, Madame,’ he said. Softly as if it were their secret accord.” Page 178
“He didn’t need to know that Vianne was risking her life, too, couldn’t worry that he would lose both his daughters. Let him think she was as safe as one could be. A coward.” Page 366
“‘I only wanted to protect you.’
‘From the truth?’‘From everything.’” Page 386
“‘Isabelle and I didn’t talk much during the war. She stayed away from me to protect me from the danger of what she was doing. So I didn’t know everything Isabelle had done until she came back from Ravensbruck.’” Page 434
“‘Your father…’ I pause, draw in a breath, Your father. And there it is, the secret that made me bury it all.” Page 438
CourageEach of the resistance fighters along with the French living in Carriveau show extreme courage, fighting for what they believe is right. In war courage is often more clearly recognized, yet courage surrounds us every day.
“Now she saw the folly of all that, the uselessness. She simply had to dive in.” page 205
“He started to cry, and she pulled him into her arms. It took perhaps the greatest courage of her life to let go of him.” Page 418
Self-preservation and LoveThe choices to protect their children and those they love occur every day during the war. Choices also reflect the individual’s needs—live and death choices like Isabelle and the pilots she is leading continuing to move forward as they struggle over the mountains, as well as choices that are more metaphysical.
“Don’t think about who they are. Think about who you are and what sacrifices you can live with and what will break you.” Page 126.
“‘Hold Sophie and Antoine and your new baby close, Vianne. Love is such a slippery thing.’” Page 426.
Quotes to Ponder
“I always thought it was what I wanted: to be loved and admired. Now I think perhaps I’d like to be known” Vianne Page 4.
“It didn’t matter that she was broken and ugly and sick. He loved her and she loved him. All her life she had waited – longed for – people to love her, but now she saw what really mattered. She had known love, been blessed by it… Don’t forget me, Isabelle thought.” Page 428.