List of Characters

From Part I: "Storm in June"

Louis-Auguste Péricand—aged father of Adrien, in a wheelchair.

Adrien Péricand—businessman and husband of Charlotte.

Charlotte—wife of Adrien, mother of five children.

Philippe Péricand—oldest son, became priest, killed by orphans.

Hubert Péricand—second oldest, runs away to join army.

Bernard, Jacqueline and Emmanuel Péricand—youngest children.

Madame Caquant—mother of Charlotte, owns homestead in Nimes.

Gabriel Corte—wealthy author.

Florence—Gabriel's mistress.

Maurice Michaud—works for banker, Corbin.

Jeanne Michaud—works for banker, Corbin.

Jean-Marie Michaud—son of Maurice and Jeanne, wounded soldier.

Monsieur Corbin—banker.

Arlette Corail—dancer and mistress to Corbin.

Charles Langelet—wealthy 60-year-old bachelor who collects fragile statuettes and other objects of art.

Madeleine Sabarie—adopted into the Sabarie family, nurses Jean-Marie.

Cecile Sabarie—biological daughter of the Sabarie family.

Benoit Sabarie—biological son of the Sabarie family, marries Madeleine.

From Part II:  "Dolce"

Madame Angellier—mother of Gaston, shares house with daughter-in-law.

Lucile Angellier—wife of Gaston.

Gaston Angellier—prisoner of war, loves another woman.

Lieutenant Bruno von Falk—German soldier, moves into the Angellier house.

Edith von Falk—wife of Bruno.

Madeleine Sabarie—(appears in both sections).

Cecile Sabarie—(appears in both sections).

Benoit Sabarie—(appears in both sections).

Kurt Bonnet—German soldier who moves into the Sabarie house.

Amaury de Montfort—mayor of Bussy, married to the Viscountess.

Madame de Montfort—the Viscountess who owns most of the land of Bussy.

Character Analysis

In the first section of the novel, the story is divided fairly equally among all the main characters. The Péricand family is one of the wealthiest and is very unaware of practical matters. The Péricands do not heed the warnings from friends that the Germans are descending upon them. When they finally decide to leave Paris, they fill their vehicles with what they believe to be “essential” items, frivolous things such as linens, paintings, and family heirlooms. As they travel out of the city, the crowds bother them. It is not empathy that they feel but rather annoyance that they cannot travel very fast.

At first Madame Péricand is generous with the other families who do not have enough food. She encourages her children to share their sweets with other children. But as soon as she hears the words "food shortages," she hoards her family's provisions and yells at her children when they generously share their treats.

The least compassionate are Gabriel Corte, Monsieur Corbin, and Charles Langelet. All three male characters are very well off financially and live in a much different world from their more common counterparts. They feel above everyone because they have money and the others do not. Everyone else is stupid and therefore not worthy of compassion, they rationalize. These characters are all used to living a life of luxury and expect to be treated with favor, no matter the circumstances. When a hotel owner says there are no rooms available, the men demand that a room be found. They offer more money, believing this will make a room magically appear. They not only want a bed, they want all the luxuries that normally would go along with a hotel room. They do not merely want food, they want only the best cuisine. Charles, in particular, even goes so far as to lie, cheat, and steal, because he believes he deserves more than anyone else.

The Michauds are the most loving of the characters. They express true love for one another as well as for the people they meet along the road. They are not rewarded any more than any of the wealthier characters, however. This novel is not a fairytale. All of the characters reap benefits and tragedies equally.

In the second section of the novel, the author intensifies her focus on Lucile Angellier who lives in the village of Bussy. Although the issue of class distinction is also portrayed in this part of the novel, the common annoyance of dealing with the Germans brings some of the townspeople closer together despite their social status. Of all the characters in this novel, Lucile is the most developed. Readers learn more of her inner thoughts, her conflicts, and her emotions. Like the Michauds of the first section, Lucile is also one of the most compassionate characters, trying hard to understand the German soldiers not just as her enemies but also as human beings.