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~FREE PDF ♅ The Ventriloquists ♰ 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,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 underground 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 Soir that pokes fun at Hitler and Stalin giving power back to the Belgians by daring to laugh in the face of their oppressorsThe ventriloquists 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 Ventriloquists 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 history 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 Ventriloquists to be very intriguing both the truth and fiction E.R 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 Ventriloquists is gorgeous and leads to quotes likeThe typewriters has 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 Ventriloquists to be very intriguing both the truth and fiction E.R 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 Ventriloquists is gorgeous and leads to quotes likeThe 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 applaud Historical 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 Belgium.There are additional little tidbits of information in The Ventriloquists that could be novels all their own My personal favourite true side story I learned is this oneGermans 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 them LanguageI 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 Quebec 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 Ventriloquists 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 equally 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 quotes in the story come from difference characters, including this gem I loveAn ellipsis is a poor substitute for a period, and don t let anyone tell you otherwise EndingI 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 Ventriloquist 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 involvedSo it was beautiful and you burned it All of Nazi history written in a single sentence OverallIf 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 require 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 Ventriloquists 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 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 unique and differs from most Its eloquent prose delivers a quiet punch, that s provocative and thoughtful The setting in The Ventriloquists is in Belgium in 1943 and tells the story of a brave resistance group set to hold out and conspire against the Germans via 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 unique and differs from most Its eloquent prose delivers a quiet punch, that s provocative and thoughtful The setting in The Ventriloquists is in Belgium in 1943 and tells the story of a brave resistance group set to hold out and conspire against the Germans via a satire paper to be printed and distributed secretly as the Faux Le Soir of the actual Le Soir , a Belgian paper at the time Of course, as with any other media taken over by the Germans, Le Soir is used as a propaganda machine and the Front de l Independance FI plans to create a little propaganda of their ownBut I could not let them know how dangerous, how different, this operation was We weren t stealing bread or tankers of gin this time We were stealing things the Nazi s cared about Gruppenfuehrer August Wolff, stationed in Belgium is of the eccentric kind with a high ego He has his eyes on the FI and tries to infiltrate the efforts of the paper by capturing and placing journalist Marc Aubrion into the production to manipulate and publish propaganda depicting Allies as monstersOnce the German machine put an order in motion, it became an act of God Only a devil or a miracle could stop it, and the Germans had seen to it that they were the only devils in Europe, the only miracle workers Marc Aubrion is trapped and tied between two worlds He has to keep up a facade and do as he is told by Wolff, and at the same time, risks his life by secretly plotting the paper s content against the GermansWhen a shiny black boot comes to town, it always steps on words and women first With a cast full of characters from different walks of life, prostitutes, journalists, and Lebenskuenstler , Ramzipoor has created a unique story to be told touching beyond the broadness of the things we know about the ratifications of the German ideals The Ventriloquist is a story full of persona, beauty, and flaws It tells about the love between same sex characters, the endurance, strength and will to be while intrigue and backstabbery happens among the ranks This dynamic keeps the novel interesting albeit at some points I had a hard time keeping track of who is using whom to sabotage The exchange of plot points and chapters changes swiftly and is told in a down count of days till the publication of the Faux Soir A culminating end of the book is not to be missed as this novel is based on true events A debut novel of a different kind that is a promising start tocaptivating books to follow by Ramzipoor I would hope so anyway because I really liked the voice, scope, and vision of this authorQuotes are taken from an uncorrected proof of the novel and are subject to changeI received a digital copy of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review Many thanks to the publisher All opinions are my own More of my reviews here 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 simplified.This is the story of a group of people in Occupied Belgium who were forced by the Germans to p 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 simplified.This is the story of a group of people in Occupied Belgium who were forced by the Germans to print a copy of a propagandized version of the popular paper, Le Soir They were instructed to publish propaganda about all the horrible things the Allies would to the population when upon their arrival in Belgium The theory is that if the Belgians are scared enough, they will fight against the Allies when they arrive to liberate them This group agrees to print the paper Note though that their only other alternative was to be executed Then they decide to ALSO print a parody edition of the paper, a faux Le Soir, that will tell paint the Germans in their true light while poking fun at them The story of how the ragtag bunch produces both papers is told in a rambling, confusing way I thought that the story was too long, and often times I didn t know who was speaking If the 11 year old character Gamin was speaking as it appeared most of the time, I didn t understand how she was present for all the conversations There was too much dialogue which dragged out the story This book could have benefited from a sharpened and well used editing pencil It s sad to me that the potential was there, but the book didn t quite succeed as I d hoped Thank You to NetGalley the publisher, Harlequin Trade Publishing, Park Row and the author, E.R Ramzipoor for providing a free e ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review About three quarters 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 Gamin Helene, About three quarters 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 Gamin Helene, the narrator in question, 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 require 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 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 publishing satire against the Nazi occupation While I enjoyed the ch 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 publishing satire against the Nazi occupation While I enjoyed the characters, the history and the premise of people willing to risk their lives to fool the Nazis and resist occupation.this book was a difficult read for me I just couldn t seem to connect with the story I m not sure what caused the disconnect though The book is well written The characters are complex The plot is good I just.didn t really like this book I think it s just a case of not every story is for every reader I enjoy WWII history, both non fiction and historical fiction I just didn t get sucked into this story I read every word..but it just wasn t a story for me I would definitely readby this author And I might pick this book up again in the future and see if I like it better after a second read I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Harlequin via NetGalley All opinions expressed are entirely my own I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review Really clunky, blocky writing and the characters didn t grab my attention.Abandoned at 25% No Rating I received a free publisher s advance review copy.There 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 stumbled across the true story behind this novel as she was researching the role of underground publications in resistance movements.A few copies of the Faux Soir of this story still exist, and some facts are known about the personalities involved Ramzipoor too I received a free publisher s advance review copy.There 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 stumbled across the true story behind this novel as she was researching the role of underground publications in resistance movements.A few copies of the Faux Soir of this story still exist, and some facts are known about the personalities involved Ramzipoor took the facts and built this novel around them.It s amazing to think that a small group of Belgians decided to risk their lives to print one issue of a newspaper satirizing the Nazi occupiers, and to get it into the hands of thousands right under the noses of the Nazis by masquerading as the Nazi co opted paper Le Soir What a great feat and an amazing premise for a novel.Unfortunately, Ramzipoor is a debut novelist and it shows The book has short chapters that jump from one character to another, and there are many characters This structure makes it hard to get into the story or feel connected to the characters There is a lot of repetition Ramzipoor drives the plot with dialog, and it s not particularly well written dialog.I do think this could have been a good piece of historical fiction if Ramzipoor had been taken in hand by an experienced editor It would have lost 150 200 pages, changed its structure to aconventional one, lost its clumsy framing device of the present day lookback, spenttime on the main characters, and just generally been polished to drive the narrative better 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 Belgiu 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 machine.The Front de l Independance FI was a resistance organization that published the infamous La Libre Belgique 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 Belgians.La Libre Belgique 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 days The Ventriloquists by E.R 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 sequence 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 recommend.Thank you HARLEQUIN Trade Publishing, Park Row and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review The Ventriloquists 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 perfectly lovable, perfectly hatable or sometimes both This tale of every day resistance and remembering how to laugh again in the face of oppression is both timeless and sadly so very timely I cannot recommend it enough.