Panache and Pathos in World War II France

Farewell Bergerac is the second in UK neurosurgeon Frederik Nath’s World War II trilogy that began with The Cyclist. Yet it stands on its own. It’s not necessary to have read The Cyclist beforehand. The book takes place in the Dordogne in France. As the narrative opens the protagonist, François Dufy, has submerged himself in grief and alcoholism due to the loss of both his wife and his only son. When the war comes to France, it alters his life in ways that are wonderful and terrible. Readers will come to care about François, and the remarkable individuals with which he surrounds himself. Due to the struggle of the French people against the German occupation, there is a strong thriller component to this book that involves a great deal of action and suspense. The plot is well-paced with a generous dollop of bittersweet character interaction and a surprising soupçon of humor that appears when you least expect it.

Although François does occasionally exhibit sexist attitudes, I recognized that this was an accurate portrayal for a man of this period. For him, an attitude of protectiveness toward a woman who can certainly defend herself is a measure of his affection for her. It doesn’t indicate any lack of respect for the woman involved.

Nath is evidently a Francophile who loves French culture and literature. Each chapter is prefaced by a quote from Paroles, an insightful book of poetry by Jacques Prévert. Yet there is another literary association in the choice of Bergerac as a setting. For me, it is inextricably connected with the play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. Like Cyrano, François often fought against impossible odds. So I feel that “Bergerac” is a very apt metaphor that refers to Rostand’s famously heroic character.


If you want to know more about the author Frederik Nath and his other books, go to his website at

Audience: Farewell Bergerac contains mature themes. It is a novel for adults.


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