June 1940. `It was a perfect June evening that began with hope and ended in despair.’ So begins the journal of Hugh Jackson, a Jersey doctor whose idyllic world is shattered when Britain abandons the Channel Islands which are invaded by the Germans. Forced to choose between conflicting loyalties, he sends his pregnant wife to England, believing their separation will be brief. It’s a fateful decision that will affect every aspect of his life.
May 1942. Young Tom Gaskell fumes whenever he sees the hated swastika flying from Fort Regent. Humiliated by Jersey’s surrender and ashamed of his mother’s fraternisation with the occupiers, Tom forms an audacious plan, not suspecting that it will result in guilt and tragedy.
April 2019. Sydney doctor Xanthe Maxwell, traumatised by the suicide of her colleague and burnt out by the relentless pressure of her hospital work, travels to St Helier so she can figure out what to do with her life. But when she finds Hugh Jackson’s World War II journal, she is plunged into a violent world of oppression and collusion, but also of passion and resistance. As she reads, she is mystified by her growing sense of connection to the past. Her deepening relationship with academic Daniel Miller helps her understand Jersey’s wartime past and determine her own future.
Diane Armstrong is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose previous novels include Winter Journey, Nocturne, Empire Day and The Collaborator. A child Holocaust survivor herself, Armstrong’s fiction and non-fiction tend to centre around this shocking and terrible part of our history. Her latest novel, Dancing with the Enemy, is a compelling story of collusion, revenge and redemption set in German-occupied Jersey during World War II.
The novel follows three characters across two timelines, and Armstrong expertly weaves each of these threads together to create a cohesive and engrossing page-turner. By the time the novel reaches its moving climax, the connection between Tom, Xanthe and Hugh Jackson has been revealed in a way none of them could possibly have imagined.
Dancing with The Enemy is a heart-wrenching and meticulously researched story that pays homage to the courage and resilience of Jersey islanders during WWII. Readers of historical fiction will devour this.