Title: Song of Cigale
Author: Mark Perretta
Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
Life for siblings Arthur and Caroline Lambert is ideal. But when Nazi Germany invades, the fates of five people go disastrously off course. Caroline remains in La Ciotat with her parents to gather vital information and collaborate with the Maquis (French Resistance). Caro's older brother, Arthur, flees France to train in England and return someday to fight German occupation.
Hanz Lambrecht lives peacefully in the small country of Liechtenstein surrounded by the breathtaking mountain ranges of the Alps. When Hanz and his father are called to war by Germany, they have no choice. Hanz is stationed in France with the sole objective of hunting the Maquis. These rebels threaten German victory, and Lambrecht must often choose between honor and orders he knows are unjust and inhumane.
With the balance of world power in doubt, American paratroopers are plunged into battle. Brothers Frank and Michael Taylor must deal with a surprisingly different set of circumstances to not only reunite but survive the conclusion of the war. Sergeant Frank Taylor and his men are armed for the worst, but nothing has prepared his heart for this...the love of a nineteen-year-old Maquis fighter.
Frank Taylor scanned the soupy horizon as columns of American soldiers drifted north along an inundated countryside. The dank smell of men and oil hung thickly in the air. As soldiers sloshed and artillery rolled through mud, most of the time, verdant farmland, meadows, and pastures stretched for miles. Every so often, a tattered village appeared, or perhaps a worn city. Early in the war, progress was measured in feet. Now, if the Americans were not covering almost twenty miles a day, command was upset.
Fighter planes screamed by intermittently, and the knowledge America controlled French skies comforted Frank. Lines of tanks gleamed in the moisture. Each, like a sleek link in a giant chain, advanced. The military machine pushed its way from the southern coast of France into the interior, liberating communities held for months. Germany was on the run.
Despite cloud cover, the landscape never seemed more vibrant. War should not be fought in a country as beautiful as this. The rich and fertile greenness of the meadow reminded Frank of lush Kansas fields. War should be fought in a country as ugly as war.
“Sarge, what’s the plan?” Haubert pulled the stump of a cigar from his mouth, hawked, and spat on the ground.
“North. Town by town, city by city. We bulldoze these bastards back to their hole.”
“Then”—Risaliti shifted the weight of his rifle from one shoulder to the other—“we bury them.”
Frank nodded then considered the obvious. The enemy was moving directly toward Lyon. Out of the corner of his eye, he glimpsed Arthur striding next to him. Faint words tumbled from Frank’s lips. “Lee Own.”
Arthur turned. “Frank?”
“Just thinking about Uncle Jean, Lyon...and—”
“I know. Were his words a reference to the city?” Arthur’s fingers swiped raindrops from the beginnings of a thick beard and flicked them to the ground. “These thoughts consume me as well.”
A vehicle honked repeatedly from behind, and, as it neared, the men gave way.
Haubert wiped his forehead with a soaked sleeve and placed the butt of his rifle on top of a muddy boot. “Well, I’ll be damned.”
Piero stared into the parting sea of men. “Who is it?”
“It’s the ol’ man. The head honcho. The big cheese. None other den Major General Hoover himself.” Haubert jerked a thumb in his direction. “Come to give us one of his famous pep talks, no doubt.”
The Jeep squealed to a stop, and the men formed a circle around it. Despite the steady drizzle, a smoldering cigar protruded from the general’s lips. He stepped from the vehicle and slopped into a puddle of muck. Oblivious to the soaked condition of his boots, Hoover straightened his back and puffed his thick chest like a rooster. He strutted around the vehicle, eyeing the soldiers, before breaking into a fiery tone. “Men...it has fallen upon us to drive the enemy from this land! It has fallen upon us to liberate this country and all of Europe!” Hoover ripped the gnawed cigar from his mouth and spat into the mud. “It has fallen upon us to deliver the world from Nazi tyranny! And by God, it will be done!”
Moore leaned behind Risaliti and muttered, “The only thing fallen upon us is enemy fire.”
“And rain,” Risaliti snickered.
Hoover grinned at the men encircling him, eagerness burning in his eyes. “I want to let my men know how damn proud I am of them. It takes a hell of a soldier to look evil in the face and stare right back.” The general spun to the nearest soldier. “What’s your name, son?”
“Mmmy nnname?” The soldier at Hoover’s side stood rigid. Piero shot nervous glances at Frank then stared at the major general, mouth agape. “Mmmy nnname?” Words escaped the private’s mouth at a level bordering scream. “My name’s PFC Piero!”
Hoover’s eyes shot open, and he recoiled a step. “Where you from, Private?”
An elbow poked Frank, and he turned to see a catlike grin crossing Risaliti’s and Haubert’s faces.
“Ahhh, you’re a Hoosier?”
The PFC yelled into the major general’s face. “No, sir!”
Almost every man in Piero’s unit shook with contained laughter.
Hoover squinted and he thrust his cigar into the private’s chest. “But you’re from Indiana?”
“That’s true, sir! But I like to consider myself a f-f-fan of the fighting Irish, sir!”
“I like your constitution, son. By God, you seem eager for more action.”
“Sir, yes, sir! Time to give those Nazi b-b-bastards hell! Sir!”
A wide smile arched the major general’s lips. “The Army needs soldiers like you. You’re a go-getter. Now, go and get me some Nazi ass!”
“Thank you! I will, sir! Get you some ass! Lots of Nazi ass, sir!”
“Keep up the good work, Private.” Hoover clapped Piero on the back and hopped into the mud-splattered Jeep. The vehicle roared to life, cranked into gear, and sloshed through a sea of parting men and flying brown muck.
After containing laughter for the duration of Hoover’s stay, the men finally burst. Howls of hilarity coursed through Taylor’s unit. Moore shook his head in disbelief, both eyebrows furrowed high into his forehead. Haubert bent over, choking with laughter. Risaliti patted Piero on the shoulder with vigorous sarcasm. “Z, you’re one humdinger!”
“Wwwhat? Wwwhat I do?” Piero threw his arms up in frustration. “But I couldn’t remember! I couldn’t remember!”
“Couldn’t remember what?” Frank asked, suppressing a smile.
“I couldn’t remember which was his bad ear,” Piero exclaimed.
“That’s okay, Z. I think you covered it. Had he half an ear, he’d have heard you,” Risaliti said.
Once again, artillery squealed to life and the men marched forward. Occasionally, a wooden post with a road sign nailed to it gave some indication of location. When Frank looked up to see the painted black word “Lyon” spread on a white sign pointing north, he nudged the soldier next to him.
A thin smile crossed Arthur’s lips, and he nodded. “If she’s out there, we’ll find her.”
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"If you're a historical fiction reader, you'll want to read Song of Cigale. If you're a romantic fiction reader, you'll adore Song of Cigale. If you love World War Two retellings, pick up Song of Cigale." -N. N. Light's Book Heaven
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Born on Thanksgiving Day, Mark earned his B.A. in Communications, Journalism, and English from John Carroll University. He would become a teacher and coach at the high school level, instructing a wide variety of English courses over the years. His love of literature and great respect for those who serve their country led him to write.
Mark likes to write stories that deal with family, honor, and sacrifice. His debut novel, "Song of Cigale," is a historical fiction that opens in 1944 France. Mark’s first book, "Heaven Above, Earth Below," is a heart-warming novella that honors his former student, Naval Flight Officer Jason Manse, and the men who served aboard the USS Indianapolis in WW II. Mark had the great honor of attending several reunions for the survivors of the USS Indianapolis.
Mark currently works as an English teacher for incarcerated youth in Canton, Ohio. When Mark isn't writing or reading, he can be found working outside, playing chess, or traveling with his family.
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