Review: Lana’s War by Anita Abriel

Title: Lana’s War

Author: Anita Abriel

Published: 2nd December 2020, Simon & Schuster Australia

Status: Read January 2021 courtesy Simon & Schuster


My Thoughts:

Lana’s War is Anita Abriel’s second historical fiction novel set during World War II.

Discovering she is pregnant, Lana Hartmann (née Antanova) hurries through the streets of occupied Paris, anxious to share the happy news with her husband, a music teacher. She is horrified when she finds her husband being questioned by the gestapo and devastated when she witnesses his callous execution while trying to protect a young Jewish girl. Miscarrying their child that same day, Lana staves off despair by volunteering at a convent where she is offered an opportunity to join the resistance. Eager to honour her husband’s sacrifice and save Jews from the Gestapo, Lana accepts and is sent to the Riviera region of France. There Lana is asked to trade on her Russian heritage and, as Countess Lana Antanova, help Swiss resistance member, Guy Pascal, with his efforts to smuggle Jews out of the country.

I like that Abriel has chosen a setting for her novel in an area of France usually overlooked in WWII historical fiction, which tends to favour Paris or the French countryside. Nice, and its neighbours including Cannes, St. Tropez, and Monaco, are part of the French Riviera, on the south east coast of France. Just 30km from the Italian border, Nice was occupied first by the Italians, and then the Germans before being liberated in 1944.

When Lana arrives in November, 1943, she is surprised that the city seems largely unaffected by the war. Unlike in Paris, stores are open and well stocked, and the casino’s, hotels and cafe’s are well patronised, though the place is overrun with German soldiers. Abriel ties the plot of her novel in with the escalation against Jews in the area, where Lana is tasked to learn the timing of upcoming raids, giving them an opportunity to evade being sent to Drancy Internment Camp. I liked the premise which promised adventure, tension and romance, unfortunately the execution fell short for me.

I liked Lana well enough but I didn’t find her to be a particularly consistent or convincing character. While her motivation for her choice to work with resistance is strong, and she’s obviously intelligent, given her education, she doesn’t seem wise enough to be so adept at espionage. It’s also a bit of a stretch that within days of her arrival she has four men essentially in love with her. I did like the romantic attachment Lana formed, but I wasn’t keen on how it played out. Lana’s relationship with Odette, a young Jewish girl, however was lovely.

Unfortunately, despite finding the broad strokes of the the story to be engaging, I thought the prose itself was rather flat, and a touch repetitive. Though I dislike the phrase, I also thought there was far more ‘telling than showing’ and as such, tension rarely eventuated, or fizzled out.

A story of war, vengeance, courage and love, Lana’s War was a quick read, but for me, not a particularly satisfying one.


Available from Simon & Schuster Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

Also by Anita Abriel reviewed at Book’d Out

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tina M Culbertson
    Jan 08, 2021 @ 09:13:48

    The begining sounds so sad but that’s too bad they couldn’t draw you in with a more engaging plot. Sounds like it may have had potential.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Susan
    Jan 08, 2021 @ 09:40:49

    Bummer! I like the sound of this one, but if the prose is flat and the heroine isn’t convincing, I think I’ll skip it. Thanks for your honest review!


    Liked by 1 person


  3. Literary Feline
    Jan 08, 2021 @ 11:50:46

    I am sorry this one wasn’t better for you, Shelleyrae. We’ll see how I fare when I read it . . .

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Verushka, an editor (@SydneyEditor1)
    Jan 10, 2021 @ 21:47:47

    I’m sorry this wasn’t as promising as it sounded/ or how it began. Lana does sound appealing ou first glance.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  6. Lexlingua
    Jan 11, 2021 @ 04:37:31

    Followed you here from the Historical Fiction 2021 reading challenge.
    I guess this is a complex topic for a book — so many themes to pull together, that the end result could run awry. Sorry you didn’t like this one so much — but wishing you luck for the next one.

    Liked by 1 person


  7. Cheryl Malandrinos
    Jan 12, 2021 @ 12:57:09

    Thanks for your thoughts on this book. I am still considering if I want to read it.

    Liked by 1 person


  8. Marg
    Jan 14, 2021 @ 21:11:06

    What a shame that you didn’t enjoy this one!



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