CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?
By Anne de Cintra
A good versus evil children’s morality tale, illustrating the importance of honesty, reliability and trustworthiness against the backdrop of war-time resistance in occupied France.
Set in a rural town in south west France during 1940 to 1944, the story examines the impact of the occupation by foreign invaders on the community, as seen through the eyes of a 9-year-old child. Living with a teenage brother, papa and mama, who own the cafe in market square, the child regularly escapes to a secret world in the forests to play with friends. The atmosphere in the town progressively darkens. The fall of Paris and the establishment of the Vichy government lead to occupation of the town by the German army. The cafe becomes central to the operation of the local black market and the growing resistance movement.
The child’s curiosity is aroused by the arrival of a mysterious female guest who takes a room above the cafe. When the child decides to follow the mystery guest into the woods and is discovered, the adult world of a secret agent and the child’s world of secret hideouts become inextricably entangled. The child’s ability to keep a secret is repeatedly tested by a shadowy cast of characters from resistance fighters to fugitive airmen whilst delivering secret messages, following escape routes and hiding weapons drops.
Anne de Cintra was Head of English at one of the country’s largest middle schools. She was driven by a passion for children’s literature, recognising the power of the written word to ignite the young imagination. She held a life-long fascination for Churchill’s S.O.E. and when she took early retirement for health reasons, she applied her enthusiasm to combine her twin interests in children’s literature and the S.O.E. This novel is the result.