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The Ventrilouists

In this triumphant debut inspired by true events a ragtag gang of journalists and resistance fighters risk everything for an elaborate scheme to undermine the ReichBrussels 1943 Twelve year old street orphan Helene survives by living as a boy and selling copies of the country’s most popular newspaper Le Soir now turned into Nazi propaganda Helene’s entire world changes when she befriends a rogue journalist Marc Aubrion who draws her into a secret network publishing dissident under. The year was 1943 Gruppenfuhrer August Wolff headed the Ministry of Perception Management administered by the Gestapo Wolff Germany s book burning crusader was primarily involved in Black Propaganda Propaganda is black if it is supposedly from one side but is actually from the other The citizenry of the city of Brussels was dispirited When the Nazis invaded Belgium taking our printing presses our radios our booksthey took our words and thoughts too Le Soir arguably Belgium s most important newspaper was turned into a cheap propaganda machineThe Front de l Independance FI was a resistance organization that published the infamous La Libre Belgiue The Belgians and the Germans ultimately wanted the same thing to sway the public Before the war Marc Aubrion was a theater critic and playwright who also wrote newspaper articles Aubrion a gifted linguist used puns and jokes in his writing to entertain and create hope for the downtrodden BelgiansLa Libre Belgiue newspaper published by the FI was on Gruppenfurer Wolff s radar Targeting and arresting Aubrion and several of his cohorts he gave them the choice of death or the impossible task of creating and distributing Le Soir He demanded that they make it a large propaganda bomb turn all of Europe against the Allies The Front de l Independance with director Rene Noel at the helm and principal writer Marc Aubrion had a plan of their own Aided by smugglers saboteurs counterfeiters printers judges and a pyromaniac street urchin they were determined to produce Le Faux Soir a four page satire to be distributed at newsstands in lieu of Le Soir They must raise funds to supplement Wolff s piddly budget offering and comply with his firm publishing deadline of 18 daysThe Ventrilouists by ER Ramzipoor is an amazing work of historical fiction with a cast of well defined characters Author notes reveal that Marc Aubrion was indeed the writer of much of the Faux Soir s satire The false newspaper was published by the Independence Front in Brussels on November 9 1943 One article was titled Effective Strategy thanks to the autumn campaign the winter campaign followed the summer campaignSo the course of these three campaigns in order show that the German general staff have not lost at any time control over the seuence of the seasons an element whose importance should not be underestimated Author Ramzipoor s tome shined a spotlight on a group of journalists and resistance fighters with the courage of their convictions and the willingness to die for a joke An excellent read I highly recommendThank you HARLEUIN Trade Publishing Park Row and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review The Ventrilouists

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Ir that pokes fun at Hitler and Stalin giving power back to the Belgians by daring to laugh in the face of their oppressorsThe ventrilouists have agreed to die for a joke and they have only eighteen days to tell itTold with dazzling scope taut prose and devastating emotion The Ventrilouists illuminates the extraordinary acts of courage by ordinary people forgotten by history unlikely heroes who went to extreme lengths to orchestrate the most stunning feat of journalism in modern histo. About three uarters of the way through this novel set in World War II Belgium one of the protagonists spends a fair amount of time moaning that I probably won t see the Americans join the war That would be fine if the book didn t take place in 1943 I reread that section three times to be sure I hadn t misunderstood Even before then though the book was irritating me primarily because of the clunky framing device and use of first person narrative for most of the story GaminHelene the narrator in uestion consistently tells us what other characters were thinking even during their final moments Why not opt for third person Having this character continually tell us things she couldn t possibly know kept taking me out of the story So did the philosophizing that kept slowing down the action It s as if the author didn t trust that the story was compelling enough And that s a shame because the little known true life Faux Soir escapade that this book details is fantastical in and of itself and does not reuire such distractions It s also a shame because the author can definitely turn an evocative phrase Thank you NetGalley and Park Row for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Ground newspapersAubrion’s unbridled creativity and linguistic genius attract the attention of August Wolff a high ranking Nazi official tasked with swaying public opinion against the Allies Wolff captures Aubrion and his comrades and gives them an impossible choice use the newspaper to paint the Allies as monsters or be killed Faced with no decision at all Aubrion has a brilliant idea they will pretend to do the Nazis’ bidding but instead they will publish a fake edition of Le So. A stunning true story of ordinary people in Nazi occupied Belgium fighting back with printed words As a Communications major in college many years ago I found The Ventrilouists to be very intriguing both the truth and fiction ER Ramzipoor does a wonderful job of breaking down what is true and what is not in her author s note for those whom feel that is important to identify Additionally the literary style of The Ventrilouists is gorgeous and leads to uotes like The typewriters has gone to sleep for the evening taking their needful melodies to bed with them Aubrion hated the silence Silence reminded him of everything that was frightening in the world night and death and audiences that didn t applaudHistorical ReferenceI m very disappointed with myself and my education that I did not know the story of Le Soir or Faux Soir Thus I m very thankful to Ramzipoor that she has brought this intriguing but also important story to light Many people today may not realize the resources it took pre Internet to get a propaganda message out Between paper ink press time press labour and distribution it was no small feat to print and distribute a daily newspaper Ramzipoor does a wonderful job of covering off every one of these key pieces prior to Le Soir hitting the streets for public consumption And while she takes 544 pages to tell the story I m not sure I would want a single sentence cut as it all feels so critical to the ending and final piece that was printed and distributed in BelgiumThere are additional little tidbits of information in The Ventrilouists that could be novels all their own My personal favourite true side story I learned is this one Germans later began shipping little fabric Stars of David to every town in Belgium when the men and women of the post learned of Stars purpose they took the Stars home and burned themLanguageI love reading books set in France Not only for the fact that France always feels like a truly romantic place I ve not been there yet but also because they speak my favourite language French As a born and raised Western Canadian it s a little unusual that I am fluent in both English and French 99% of French speaking Canadians francophone are in uebec east and on the East Coast Let me clarify that English is my first language French is the language I love but am only at best proficient in For me there is something about books where they combine the French phrases that many know without translation and English that just makes my heart soar The mix in The Ventrilouists felt perfect to me It might be a little bit too much French that goes untranslated for some but in that case I d encourage readers to Google It for a translation and appreciate the flow and style of the French language but I m biased CharactersWhether it s the characters that Ramzipoor researched and were real or people she had to assume existed each of our POVs and characters feel like real people You might think that it s easier to narrate from the POV of a person that actually existed than a fictional one I have found that is not always the case for many writers I could not have told you the difference between the characters based on historical record and those that Ramzipoor inserted or assumed into the story They all feel eually fleshed out I know many reviewers have criticized the plethora of characters in this story but the reality is that it would take a lot of people to pull off this feat I would remiss not to point out my three favourite characters a boy of about 13 who is the primary POV a lesbian whom seduces another high powered lady and the star of the story our middle aged male and lead conspirator real person Aubrion However even the side characters are so impeccably done that I can t leave them all out a gay man who forges letters like no other and is trapped into working for the Germans to stay alive the German turncoat or the man that donates his printing press at great risk to produce the final product are all beautifully done Many of the lovely uotes in the story come from difference characters including this gem I love An ellipsis is a poor substitute for a period and don t let anyone tell you otherwiseEndingI ve been known to hate a lot of endings I often wonder if I ve liked the ending to even 30% of the books I ve read in my life I dunno what it is but endings make or break stories for me The Ventrilouist does not let down From the true events that happen at the climax of the story to the fictional outcomes for many of our characters Ramzipoor does a wonderful job of wrapping up the pieces of the story for our many intriguing people in ways that feel balanced given it s war time and they are all conspirators and also surprisingly satisfying A few may of course bring you to tears but there really is no avoiding that when the Nazi s are involved So it was beautiful and you burned it All of Nazi history written in a single sentenceOverallIf you have any interest in a small rebellious group printing of newspapers propaganda creation and distribution WWII in Belgium resilient people or just WWII in general this is a wonderful book to add to your repertoire It will reuire some time to read because of it s dense language and length but I believe the pay off is well worth the effort For me The Ventrilouists easily deserves to be alongside The Tattooist of Auschwitz and other recently told WWII literary feats that bring to light some of the billions of stories of those who survived a time most of us can t even begin to relate to Each one of these amazing stories of resilience and hope help me to remember that it can always get worse and that if others survived in the past than I should certainly be able to survive today s world Please note I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley This is an honest and unbiased review

  • ebook
  • null
  • The Ventrilouists
  • E.R. Ramzipoor
  • en
  • 06 October 2019
  • 9781488035142

About the Author: E.R. Ramzipoor

Evan Roxanna Ramzipoor is a writer based in California She studied political science at UC Berkeley where she researched underground literature in resistance movements and discovered the forgotten story of Faux Soir Evan has given talks on underground literature at the GLBT Museum Ohlone College and USC has taught writing at UC Berkeley and Hugo House Her work has been featured in McSweeney

10 thoughts on “The Ventrilouists

  1. says:

    Well the first thing I'm going to say about this book is that it is long Too long About 200 pages too long Yes I understan

  2. says:

    The year was 1943 Gruppenfuhrer August Wolff headed the Ministry of Perception Management administered by the Gestapo Wolff Germany's book burning crusader was primarily involved in Black Propaganda Propaganda is 'black' if it is supposedly from one side but is actually from the other The citizenry of the city o

  3. says:

    Still waters are deep is a saying that I grew up with and it is the perfect analogy for this novel in my mind In many ways a reader knows what to expect when picking up a historical fiction novel set during WWII but this story is uniue and differs from most Its elouent prose delivers a uiet punch that's provocative and thoughtful

  4. says:

    A stunning true story of ordinary people in Nazi occupied Belgium fighting back with printed words As a Communications major in college many y

  5. says:

    Rating 2 starsAs much as I love reading historical fiction about little known episodes in history especially WWII history this book didn’t hit the mark for me There were too many characters and I was unclear who the narrator was most of the time The story was interesting but told in a very convoluted way I felt like the author would gotten the point across better if the plot had been simplifiedThis is the story of a group of peo

  6. says:

    In 1943 Brussels the Nazis have taken over Helene is 12 years old She's an orphan who survives by disguising herself as boy She sells newspapers Her life changes when she is drawn into a secret underground network that publishes dissident anti nazi news When a high ranking Nazi officer discovers the group he demands that they print pro Nazi propaganda or face death The group decides to pretend to comply while actually p

  7. says:

    About three uarters of the way through this novel set in World War II Belgium one of the protagonists spends a fair amount of time moaning that I probably won't see the Americans join the war That would be fine if the book didn't take place in

  8. says:

    This book is the perfect combination of gravitas humor and pure compelling plot The true story is amazing and yet the author doesn't just ride the plot like so many historical fiction books do Each sentence is beautiful Each character is per

  9. says:

    I received this from netgalleycom in exchange for a review Really clunky blocky writing and the characters didn

  10. says:

    I received a free publisher's advance review copyThere are so many little known stories about World War II that now nearly 80 years after the war began there are still tales to be told Ramzipoor writes in her author’s note that she stumble

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