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Early One Morning by Robert Ryan

Early One Morning

by Robert Ryan

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924131,245 (3.25)13
  1. 00
    Light of the Moon by Elizabeth Buchan (vegetarianflautist)
    vegetarianflautist: Similar story of French Resistance workers.

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This novel is set mostly in France during the second world war. We meet a group of close friends, two of them racing drivers. Williams and Benoist, and Eve, who marries Williams. Based on true events the novel works its way through the war, giving a picture of the German occupation of France, the collaboration of industry with the Nazis and the cruelty, as well as the heroism of the French resistance. It is a good story that is engaging enough. ( )
  Tifi | Mar 30, 2017 |
"with gear changes so smooth as to be almost sensual,precise,yet delicate."

Last year I read Ryan's After Midnight and although not completely entralled by it was at least willing to give him another go.

In this book Englishman William Grover-Williams and Frenchman Robert Benoist are successful motor racing drivers,they are fierce rivals not only on the track but off it over the affections of the beautiful Eve Aubicq in flambouyant 1920s France. Eventually both become drivers for Bugatti. When WWII starts Grover-Williams joins the SOE to help the French Resistance undermine the vicious invading Nazis. He is returned to France where he recruits Benoist to help in the fight. All seems pretty implausible right? Well actually the story is based on true life.

The early part of the book concentrates on the main protagonists racing around the tracks of Europe and the glamourous lifestyle that goes with it. We see the decadent Paris and they meey various 'celebrities' of the day. During the war we see how Paris falls from decadence to desperation as the occupiers become more and more brutal and life for the local populace becomes much harsher.

Despite the atmospheric depiction of wartime Paris the war section leaves a bit to be desired in that there is a lack of real action and daring-do but then this is a book more about love,friendship,betrayal and bravery in the face of adversity rather than just an out and out war story. In particular Williams incarceration was a little flat IMHO. Having read After Midnight I found the ending a little predictable but as no one really knows what happened to Williams that is OK.

Overall Ryan mixes fact with fiction in quite an imaginative way and I certainly enjoyed using Wikipedis etc to read the background information on the main characters real life afterwards.Like the quote about a Bugatti at the top of this review I thought that Ryan handled the gear changes rather well, using flashbacks from 2001, constantly making me want to turn the page over. An enjoyable read. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Jun 12, 2013 |
Based on a true story, but imaginatively fictionalised, this centres on the life of William Grover Williams, an Englishman with French connections, and Robert Benoist, a cultured Frenchman. Both men made their mark in the world of motor racing, both eventually racing for Bugatti. The account leads up to their first meeting, plays on the competitiveness that existed between them on the race track, and later follows them as they become part of the French Resistance during WWII. Prior to their meeting Williams becomes involved with the beautiful Yvonne (Eve) Aubiqu, one time model and mistress of Sir William Orpen, and her charms will beguile Benoist.

It is a story of bravery and courage, a story of two men who cheat death on the race track and who seem to find a similar excitement in their attempts at harassing the German occupying forces in France. It is a story that reveals the horrors of war, the inhuman treatment handed out to many innocent people, and the treatment the Likes of Williams and Benoist can expect if captured.

The early part of the novel is peppered with the names of the famous giving an indication of the sort of circle Benoist moved in. But over the course of the story we see the glamour of Paris change to a city of desperation, a place where no one is sure who can be trusted, and where there are inevitable betrayals.

This is a very well written account and a worthy read, it plays well with the facts and offers some imaginative conjecture, so even if you think you know what happened to both Benoist and Williams you cannot be sure of their fate here until you reach the very last pages. ( )
  presto | Apr 22, 2012 |
It took me a while to get into this book, and I found the beginning rather slow. But once it got into the proper French Resistance stuff, I really enjoyed it, and am glad I persevered. ( )
  vegetarianflautist | Jul 19, 2010 |
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Based on a true story of British covert activity and the French Resistance during the Second World War.

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