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The Tower at Petite Vigne: A Novel of Occupied France
by Rob Stone

Published: 2011-10-28
Paperback : 257 pages
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When a German construction crew arrives in May 1943 to build a flak tower near the French village of Petite Vigne, its inhabitants must decide whether to outlast the occupiers, resist them, or collaborate with them. Divisions among the Germans threaten them and their subjects. The Tower at Petite ...
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Introduction

When a German construction crew arrives in May 1943 to build a flak tower near the French village of Petite Vigne, its inhabitants must decide whether to outlast the occupiers, resist them, or collaborate with them. Divisions among the Germans threaten them and their subjects. The Tower at Petite Vigne is a fast-paced, absorbing story about people caught up in the chaos of war.

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Excerpt

1.
The centuries-long practice of viniculture gave Petite Vigne its name. Like many such places, the remote village’s inhabitants were content to keep the outside world at arm’s length.
It came as no surprise therefore that the outbreak of war in September 1939 attracted scant attention. Things changed nine months later, when the German army pierced the Ardennes Mountains and spread like a cancer throughout the country’s interior. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Compare the leadership styles of Mayor Henri Marteau and Foreman Franz Deggendorf. What issues and stresses does each man face, and how effectively does he deal with them? Are there parallels between the two of them?

2. Sometimes war novels characterize the people on one side as heroes and those opposing them as villains: life isn't so simple. Discuss the complexity of attitudes and interpersonal relationships between the French and German characters in The Tower at Petite Vigne. Did the way in which any of them acted surprise you? If so, how?

3. The appearance in Petite Vigne of escaped POW Robert Florac dramatically alters the plot. Upon whom did Florac's return have the greatest impact? How might things have gone differently had he not come back?

4. As the story opens Father Arno Meier is an outsider: coming from a big city he is viewed with suspicion by the inhabitants of the remote village to whose Roman Catholic parish he is assigned. How does Meier evolve into being more than a purely religious leader? What internal struggles might he have faced in deciding to take a role in resisting the Germans?

5. To her father's consternation, Josette Marteau's natural teenage rebelliousness involves participation in actions that put her in danger and ultimately jeopardize her life. Had you found yourself in Josette's circumstances, would you have been tempted to do some of the things she did? Where would you draw the line in acting in ways that threatened your safety, or that of your family?

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