Broken by Traci L. Slatton. (Parvati Press, 225 pp. $16.99 paper)
Here are the facts about Broken, Traci Slatton’s newest historical fiction: Its protagonist, Alia, is a fallen angel with a voracious appetite for sex who descends to earth in German-occupied Paris, where she drinks and hobnobs with the profane, cultured elite: Andre Malraux, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Albert Camus, Edith Piaf. Her beloved Archangel Michael questions why she has chosen to live in such an evil time, as will the reader.
While the French citizens feel the increasing oppression of the Germans—it is the Jewish residents and political activists whose lives hang in the balance. Alia suffers her fair share of pain as she sees those humans she has come to love—including a Spanish bullfighter, a Jewish engineer and a Polish butcher and a neighboring Jewish mother and daughter–are threatened. By the book’s end, Alia’s experiences of compassion and sacrifice compellingly answer the archangel’s—and our—question.