Tuesday, March 21, 2023

A Frightening Encounter-from my upcoming release, by Diane Scott Lewis

Purchase my novels HERE

In my novel, Outcast Artist in Bretagne, due out in August, I explore a forbidden love that happens to the despair of my heroine, who doesn't need any more complications in her life.

Stranded in France after the Germans attack in 1940, Norah must maneuver her new situation. Will her cousin's husband demand she leave as the food supply wanes? But she has nowhere to go. What about the German commandant? Does he suspect she is a spy because she's English? Or are his increasing intentions of a different sort altogether? 

Why does she find herself suddenly drawn to him? He has secrets that will undermine Hitler's intent to capture all of Europe. Is he a decent man under that dreaded uniform?

Norah's first confrontation with the commandant:

Norah flinched and swung around. A baby-faced soldier in Nazi greenish-gray scowled at her. “What are you doing here?” he demanded in heavily accented, terrible French, two of his teeth jagged like a weasel.

She straightened, chin high, the pad pressed to her stomach. Inside, she trembled. “I live nearby. I was enjoying a walk. I draw birds.” Her French was passable after the year entrenched with her cousin, and her schoolgirl lessons from a decade ago. Her arrival happened only five weeks before the Germans invaded France. A desperate year because of that and for anguished, personal reasons.

The young man pointed at her book and bag, then shouted over his shoulder in German.

Was he alerting his superior? “Please, I’ve done nothing wrong.” She had no desire to come face to face with the Commandant. “You can search me…if you want.” She cringed at that idea.

“I have no choice but to report you.” The soldier shouted again. The officer’s heavy footsteps thudded closer.

He burst through the bushes, tall and broad-shouldered, his expression stern. The two Germans spoke in their guttural language.

Norah wanted to collapse to the ground but refused to show intimidation. Her spine nearly crackled as she held it firm.

The Commandant confronted her, his blue eyes penetrating. “What is your purpose out here at the shore?” He had distinct cheekbones, a handsome face, his lips full; a man of about forty. An iron cross hung at his high collar. “You don’t care to take instruction from we Philistines. Civilians are restricted.”

“I apologize,” she tried to keep the revulsion from her tone, though his near-teasing words —or perhaps a taunt—put her off-balance even more, “I was out for a walk and…I used to walk by the shore. Before—” Before you damned Germans arrived.

“What is in that book and bag? Give the pad to me, so I may inspect what you’re doing.” He reached out his gloved hand, his French excellent.

She hesitated, then handed the book over. “I like to sketch birds. I have a friend who is an ornithologist. We study them. Rather he studies them, I just draw.”

She opened the bag at his order, and the young soldier plowed through it. “I’d appreciate it if you don’t crack my pencils.”

“Show me your Identification Card. What is your name, prowler of the coast?” the officer asked in his clipped, almost raspy voice. He opened and paged through her drawings. “It is only birds, nothing more?”

“I’m Norah Cooper, and yes, it’s only birds.” She pulled out the card residents were now required to carry.

He snatched the card and read the words, perused her picture. Then he handed it back. “Ah, I detected an English accent in your French.”

His continued rough handling of the pages sent sparks along her shoulders. Would she be punished for being English, Germany’s worst enemy?

She reached for her book to mask her panic, the idea she could be interrogated or shot. Her knees wobbled. “Please…may I have—”

Diane lives in Western Pennsylvania with her husband and one naughty dachshund.


  1. Interesting setting and conflict. Love that you say 'Bretagne' and not 'Brittany' as it sounds more accurate to my French ears. Thanks for sharing.


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