How Angels Die by David-Michael Harding

In the past 2 years or so, I’ve been quite taken with reading historical fiction. Strangely they all were about war-time Spain, especially the Civil war. How Angels Die by David-Michael Harding is a historical novel that plays off in 1944 during wartime France. It is my first time reading a Harding novel and first time reading about France during war time…


How Angels Die is a riveting and passionate tale that didn’t disappoint. The story is about two brave sisters, Claire and Monique McCleash, working with the French Resistance movement against the Nazi’s, both in their own and different way. Claire is a Resistance fighter who partakes in raids against the Gestapo, while Monique uses her body and sleeps with Nazi’s officers, seducing information out of them to inform the movement. The latter creates a divide in the McCleash family with the father Sean believing his daughter is nothing but a prostitute and would rather have her follow Claire’s example. The mother, Estelle is siding with her daughter Monique, being of the opinion that they are all helping in their own way.

The novel paints a visual picture of France during war time: horrific descriptions of the attacks, raids and rape. The way the author describes the characters and events in this book, it was inevitable that I would find myself somehow being emotionally bound to the characters while reading this novel. I understood Claire’s anger towards the Germans, Monique’s dealing with the rejection of her father and quest for love and Paul’s heartbreaking need for death to come sooner after the “death” of his fiancé, to name but a few. I felt sad when Paul died before finding out the truth about Valerie, yet glad when Sophie did. I cried tears of joy AND sadness. Sadness because of the death of one of the main characters and joy because in the end you learn, yet again, that sometimes we do get a second chance for redemption. In some way or another…

I would definitely recommend this book, whether you like historical fiction or not. The book was sent to me for review, and I really enjoyed reading it.

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  • I’m glad you liked it!!! It’s always good when a book I recommend is enjoyed by the person who reads it!

    I know, I know, I still need to read Kate Morton! It’s coming, I promise! 🙂

    • Mel

      Yes, I definitely enjoyed this book. Very different to what I normally read, but now I can’t wait to read more of David-Michael Harding’s novels.

      I will await your Kate Morton review – which ever novel you choose to read first 😉

  • When I get around to reading this one, Rebecca, you MUST read The Forgotten Garden. I’m so glad this one has two great reviews, already!

  • I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award! You can find out more about it in my post here:

    • Mel

      Thanks Nicole! Will go check out your post
      Mel xx

  • Les

    It is always interesting to read historical novels especially based on events that really happened. I especially like reading non-fiction historical novels. I will definitely read this one 🙂

    • Mel

      It’s a beautiful book, very touching. I have it on my kindle, but there are a few other books I need to give you first to read before you can have this one 😉

  • This sounds good, the review is too. I read quite a bit of Historical fiction but haven’t come across a story like this yet. I may look into it . . .

    • Mel

      You should give it a try 🙂
      The book was sent to me for review and I was pleasantly surprised as to how much I liked it!

      Have you tried Winter in Madrid by CJ Samson? (4th review from top on the home page)

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  • Isi

    You know I’m loving this book. I feel sorry for Monique since their own family doesn’t undestand that she is also working hard because the Resistance would be nothing without informers like her.
    And the story of Paul and Valerie is incredibly sad 🙁

    About historical fiction, I have read several books about this period, set in different countries, included France. I always like to know more about the war because every novel has a different point of view.

    • I’m so glad that you’re enjoying it. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it. I love historical fiction and this is one of my favorites because it was so poignant in its descriptions.

      Paul and Valerie’s story is so sad yes! I cried. I’m reading one now about the war in Italy 🙂

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