Belgium, 1940. The German army is spreading across Europe, and tiny Belgium is conquered in 18 days. During the four long years of the Nazi occupation, the women of La Louvière have to figure out some way to stay alive, to live their lives, and to keep up hope. Their world is drawn through teenage Marcelle’s journal: What does she do? How do her family members endure? Which women in town collaborate with the occupying forces, and which women choose to fight? As always in wartime, the women take over for the absent men and keep their world spinning.

An engaging story of a family’s experiences during the occupation of Belgium during World War Two. Nothing horrific, no great tragedy, but an honest look at the effects of war, separation, and life.

Told very loosely from Marcelle’s diary, we follow along the course of the war from occupation to liberation. It takes us with the family as time crawls while everyone tries to get on with life as best as possible. Along with that we’re treated to small village life and how various people dealt with the occupation.

Parallel to that is the story of Marguerite Caluwaerts, based on historical figure Marguerite Bervoets, and her fight against the Germans, ultimately leading to her arrest and execution.

It’s a wonderful dichotomy of two lives lived in the same space during a tumultuous period.

Balthazar’s art is deceptively simplistic in its presentation. Its most striking feature is the way foregrounds and backgrounds are done in different mediums, or presented as such.

The focus is on telling the story and in that the visual presentation is highly successful. Colours are naturalistic and play well with the muted backgrounds.

I especially enjoyed this in the foreword.

The author has attempted to both reconcile story and history, as well as give the proper respect to the real human beings who inspired these paper dolls.

Please check out the preview below from Izneo, who provided my digital copy for review.