Passing Unseen
The title of this novel is part of a quotation from a well-known book by Robert Pirsig. The idea of the 'little moments through which we pass unseen’ to which he refers has a very strong appeal for me. We are all aware of the results of our 'big moments' but few of us dwell on the results of the myriad 'little moments'. The setting of this story during WW2 is not an accident. Not only does war increase exponentially the number of 'little moments' but I discovered in France one strand of the inevitably complex tale that actually occurred during the war. By complete serendipity I met a former Resistance fighter who'd played a small part in the story of the rescue of the crew of a crashed American B-24 bomber. He'd written (in French) and privately published the factual story of their rescue. I carried out further research, interviewed many of the American crew and some of the members of the Resistance who were still alive. I produced the updated story as an educational multi-language interactive CD-ROM for the Museum of Alpe d'Huez. When I decided to write a novel about these ‘little moments’ I added the major story of the French Resistance, some of which is also based on fact. I also included other events that actually happened. For example, the stories of two British SOE officers and an American OSS Operational Group who were parachuted into a Resistance stronghold on the Vercors plateau is true. So too are the Resistance PoW camp in a remote valley high in the Alps and the Resistance Field Hospital. The first draftof this novel ended in August 1944 when Grenoble was relieved by a Task Force from the US 7th army and the collection of characters whose lives had 'passed unseen' through the lives of others went their separate ways. I summarised their subsequent lives in two or three pages. However, at the first edit I felt this device was something of a 'cop-out' and didn't do justice to the people whose lives I'd created so I extended the story by an extra 50 or so pages. I believe the story is considerably improved and the change more than justifies the delay in publication. Although set in wartime it is not a story of war but of human relationships. It is as much a love story as a war thriller. It’s historical without being history even though anyone who cares to decipher the names and descriptions of places can still visit the locations in which I've set the various incidents. Above all, although many of the characters are based on composites of real people, it is a novel. The dialogue is entirely imagined and for that reason I've changed the names of all the 'real' characters.