In writing a novel based on historical figures, there is always a question of how far one should carry the truth. On the one hand, an author should not do an injustice to anyone who was or is alive. On the other, novels are inherently fiction, and they must always be carried first and foremost by the narrative, even if that might mean bending the truth a little in order to tell a better story. The Prophecies is an excellent example of how to keep a balance between the two, as the author deftly weaves fact, fiction, and the gray area in between into a compelling tale of love and betrayal in occupied France.
Geneviève Zaepffel is a French woman with the astonishing ability to predict the future. Crowds gather to hear her predictions, and in these crowds is a young Luftwaffe pilot named Hermann Kaestner who was sent by the Nazis to see whether he could use her gift to predict how the war will go for the Axis. The two of them are drawn together and become lovers, even though that love is mingled with ulterior motives on one side.
The book is not solely about the two lovers, compelling a story as that might be. Instead, the author brings in a third player, Henri Gillard, who intends to create a church in the French countryside dedicated to the Holy Grail. Through these three, the author tells not only of a fateful encounter in the middle of World War II but also of various forms of spiritualism and the different (and, to modern American eyes, strange) beliefs of the time and place. I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in history, and if you do read it, be sure to look through the historical notes and the bibliography at the back. They’re a perfect place to continue research on this fascinating subject.
The Oak Tree Press