Gaëlle de Barbet is sixteen years old in 1940 when the German army occupies France and frightening changes begin. She is shocked and powerless when French gendarmes take away her closest friend, Rebekah Feldmann, and her family, and send them to a detention camp for deportation to an unknown, ominous fate.
The local German military commandant makes Gaëlle’s family estate outside Lyon into his headquarters. Her father and brother are killed by the Germans; her mother fades away into madness and ill health. Trusted friends and employees become traitors. And by accident, Gaëlle begins a perilous journey with the French Resistance, hoping to save lives to make up for the beloved friend she could do nothing to help.
Taking terrifying risks, Gaëlle becomes a valuable member of the Resistance, fearlessly delivering Jewish children to safety underneath the eyes of the Gestapo and their French collaborators. Then she is suddenly approached by the German commandant with an astonishing and dangerous plan to save part of France’s artistic heritage as the Germans withdraw. And once again, her life is on the line. Conducted in secret, flawlessly carried out, her missions for the Resistance change her life and mark her for years. She is falsely accused of collaboration at the end of the war, and flees Lyon in disgrace, orphaned and alone. She goes to Paris to put the war behind her and begin a new life, with the ghosts of the past always close at hand.
Gaëlle’s life will take her from Paris to New York, from a career as a Dior model to marriage and motherhood, unbearable loss, and mature, lasting love. She returns to Paris to run a small museum, honoring victims of the Holocaust. She has never sought recognition for her courage during the war years she can never forget. Her label as a collaborator remains, until her granddaughter, a respected political journalist, is determined that past wrongs finally be made right, and her grandmother’s brave acts be recognized. Now a grateful nation will finally acknowledge this remarkable woman. At last, she is absolved and honored as the war hero she was.