Broken by Traci L. Slatton-Review and Guest Post
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date September 5, 2014
Power is pornographic
Can love sustain light when the forces of evil close in?
Paris, 1939-1942. A fallen angel is trapped in the web of German Occupation. The deadly noose of Nazi control grows ever tighter, ensnaring her and two of her lovers, a bullfighter and a musician working in the fledgling Resistance. Can she save them and the Jewish widow and her child that she has come to love, or will betrayal take them all?
REVIEW: BROKEN is an historical, fictionalized, paranormal storyline that focuses on a fallen angel known as Alia. In the weeks and months leading up to the Nazi occupation of Paris, France during WW II, Alia and her Bohemian friends party like no one is watching. Alia is a watcher-a fallen angel who can see what humans cannot-and a being who absorbs the essence and energy from the people around her.
The storyline is awash in a considerable amount of historical fact and fiction. Beginning in 1939 Alia and her friends take full advantage of the Paris night life and everything it has to offer-plenty of alcohol, plenty of sex and a lifestyle acquainted with the rich, the famous and the infamous. But all too soon, the once fabled Fuhrer and his Nazi party take control of Paris while Alia and her friends must take refuge before their true identities and heritage are revealed.
Traci L. Slatton has written a storyline that is extensively detailed in both WWII and Holocaust history as well as religious overtones and Christian beliefs. Not only does a fallen angel find herself at the mercy of the Nazi party but she discovers that she is fallible to the party demands.
The numerous secondary characters are Bohemian and aristocratic in nature-almost Bourgeoisie. Their artistic lifestyle sets the backdrop for a group of people (the famous and unknown) who believe they are excluded from the incoming hell only to realize, sometimes too late, that no one is safe from the storm. While Europe prepares for war, Alia and her friends wax philosophical the finer points of religion, politics and the Nazi Party. With the introduction of some real-life famous characters and artistes of the twentieth century the storyline spun in a decidedly different direction.
One concern is the paranormal aspect of the storyline and the lack of any real connection to the actual premise. The supernatural element is secondary and does not add anything to the overall plot-it does not play a significant or important role in the overall presentation. Alia is a fallen angel whose human façade enjoys the pleasures of the flesh but an Angel who knows that her time on earth is limited.
Traci L Slatton is an amazing writer whose storylines are infinitely detailed with both fact and fiction; fantasy and reality. Her style of writing is intense; the historical research impressive; and the overall premise is a flight into the fantastic and uncoventional.
Copy supplied by the author.
Reviewed by Sandy
Writing Historical Romances, Accuracy and History
By Traci L. Slatton, author of BROKEN
War, famine, storms, invention, exodus, heroism, sadism, love, and cycles of despair and enlightenment: it sounds like the kind of novel anyone would be thrilled to pick up and read. In fact, it’s human history. We as a species have struggled with nature and with ourselves—our best and our worst impulses—since we stood upright and picked up a piece of charcoal to draw ourselves, a spear, and a beast on a cave wall.
Text books can render history into dry recitations of dates, personages, and events, but when you ponder what was happening and how it must have actually felt to the people of the time, people like me and you, everything changes. History becomes the most breath-taking, intimate portrait of how we have lived and loved and suffered and vanquished and survived and thrived. It’s a natural resource for storytellers.
Clearly, this topic excites me. I was enthusiastic when Sandy suggested it.
A good story is told with conflict and obstacle, which, as I’ve just pointed out, define history. I try to write stories that are cohesive and focused, so I like to choose a specific era in a specific place. For my first novel Immortal, I chose Renaissance Florence, which was still a broad swathe of time—almost two hundred years. There was so much rich material that had to be left out that for Broken, my latest novel, I selected Paris under Nazi occupation, and I narrowed it even further to three years, 1939-1942, the year before the Nazis marched into Paris and the first two years of occupation.
Winnowing down the horrific German occupation of the City of Lights this way provided an opportunity for me to deeply relate my characters to very specific events. Alia, an angel who fell from heaven, experiences the oppression of the time personally and with great intensity. She and her beloved friends suffer through food shortages, lack, loss, and sacrifices in minute detail.
In one scene, Alia walks with Pablo Picasso, the celebrated modernist painter who stayed in Paris during occupation, and she carries a bag of food containing a few leaves of lettuce, some rutabagas, and three veal sausages. In her mind, as she converses with Picasso, she performs mental food math: these groceries must stretch to feed five people, perhaps for more than one day.
Her calculations were historically accurate. Food was scarce for Parisians, who had to pay for the privilege of German occupation with both money and resources like foodstuffs. Researching Paris under Nazi Occupation, I learned that the French ate about 800 calories per day. Over and over again in documents from the time, I read the same descriptions of Parisians as “skinny.”
I enjoy writing historical novels and I enjoy the research that is required because I look for ways to personalize an era for my characters. Before occupation, rutabagas weren’t prized as food; Parisians acquired a taste for them during occupation. The Nazis took almost everything so Parisians made do with what was left. They became very resourceful about finding protein, and bred white rabbits throughout the city, for both their food and their meat. In fact, they were so resourceful that warnings had to be put up against eating cats and diseased pigeons from the parks.
Sometimes I depart from historical fact to make a story truthful, to make it work. Truthfulness and accuracy in fiction are different matters, and truth is the foremost value. However, I do this with care. For example, in Broken, Sartre and Camus are shown at the same party. There are conflicting reports about when these great philosophers met, but it’s widely agreed that they met after the war. For purposes of the novel’s themes and its structure, I placed them together in Alia’s apartment, drinking wine, reading their work, and arguing about the prejudices of the time. Sartre wants the other guests to pay attention to him; Camus wants to hear music. They serve both as characters with all the inherent flaws and foibles of any person and as eloquent voices of their time.
History is a story bonanza for a novelist. It provides a dazzling array of drama as well as opportunities to craft a story with precision. Ultimately, any good story is an argument for a specific value, and writing historical novels gives me a chance to ask myself, What do I care about? What do I value? Answering those questions while metabolizing history is my job as a novelist—and, I hope, gives the reader something that absorbs and enriches her.
Traci L. Slatton, author of FALLEN and COLD LIGHT, is a graduate of Yale and Columbia. She lives in Manhattan, and her love for Renaissance Italy inspired her historical novel IMMORTAL and her contemporary vampire art history mystery THE BOTTICELLI AFFAIR. FALLEN is the first in a romantic trilogy set during the end times; COLD LIGHT and FAR SHORE further the dystopian tale. DANCING IN THE TABERNACLE is her first book of poetry. She also wrote a sculpture book, THE ART OF LIFE, with her husband. THE LOVE OF MY (OTHER) LIFE is a bittersweet rom-com that addresses the question: What worlds would you move to be with your soulmate?