At the Hour Between Dog and Wolf: A Novel

By – August 8, 2023

It’s 1941 in Paris, and Danielle Marton’s life changes for­ev­er when a Ger­man sol­dier mur­ders her father in the streets of the city. Sens­ing a shift in gov­ern­ment, and afraid for their future, Danielle’s moth­er sends her daugh­ter into hid­ing. Danielle can no longer be a twelve-year-old Jew­ish girl, but has to take on the iden­ti­ty of Marie-Jeanne — the orphaned niece of Claude and Berthe Chantier. 

At first, Danielle strug­gles to make the change and has dif­fi­cul­ty grasp­ing the sever­i­ty of her sit­u­a­tion. She sees Marie-Jeanne as a game, as if she is play­ing dress-up with her friends. It is not until lat­er in the war that we see Danielle for­get­ting her pre­vi­ous life and ful­ly adopt­ing Marie-Jeanne’s identity. 

As the title sug­gests, Danielle fights with the idea of good ver­sus evil. In school, she is taught that Jew­ish peo­ple are dif­fer­ent, with dif­fer­ent blood and DNA, yet she her­self does not feel any less French than her class­mates. She is told that any­one who goes against the gov­ern­ment is a rebel and should be arrest­ed — but she finds that when she fol­lows these rules, she only brings her friends and fam­i­ly pain and suffering. 

Tara Ison writes in swift prose that gen­er­ates anx­i­ety. She also shows how quick­ly kids had to grow up while in hid­ing. Read­ers watch Danielle go from a fright­ened, teary-eyed young girl to a brave young woman fac­ing Vichy offi­cials and trav­el­ing alone through­out Nazi-occu­pied France. 

Even though Ison’s book is set in the 1940s, it is much more than a Holo­caust sto­ry. She writes about a num­ber of themes that are chill­ing­ly rel­e­vant to today’s soci­ety: the rise of fas­cism, hatred, anti­semitism, and the impact the Vichy gov­ern­ment had on French school­ing dur­ing the occupation. 

At the Hour Between Dog and Wolf is a per­fect read for book clubs and read­ers who enjoy Holo­caust and polit­i­cal lit­er­a­ture. It is a time­ly book that invites con­ver­sa­tions about his­to­ry repeat­ing itself. 

Arielle Lan­dau is the Jew­ish Book Council’s pro­gram man­ag­er. She grad­u­at­ed from The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin where she stud­ied Jour­nal­ism. Before join­ing the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil, she spent two years work­ing at Boston Uni­ver­si­ty Hil­lel as an Engage­ment Asso­ciate and a year work­ing at Club Z as an Edu­ca­tor and NY Region­al Coor­di­na­tor. She has writ­ten op-eds for Lon­don-based mul­ti-media start-up, ShoutOutUK, and worked with the Austin American-Statesman’s social media depart­ment for her university’s Senior Capstone. 

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of Tara Ison 

1. Many of the char­ac­ters ini­tial­ly seem like good” peo­ple” or bad” peo­ple, but then every­thing we know about them shifts. Whose change was most dramatic?

2. Danielle’s trans­for­ma­tion into Marie-Jeanne hap­pens over the course of four years; are there moments when that change is most vis­i­ble? Most disturbing?

3. Are there some ways Danielle matures into a bet­ter person?

4. How do you feel Daneille’s rela­tion­ships with her aunt” Berthe” and uncle” Claude evolve over the course of the story?

5. Peo­ple are often forced into mak­ing dif­fi­cult choic­es in times of extra­or­di­nary dan­ger and stress; what are some of the choic­es Danielles is forced to make? Do you feel you would choose differently?

6. How do you feel Danielle’s rela­tion­ship with her moth­er will devel­op at the novel’s end?

7. How do you feel Danielle’s rela­tion­ship to her Jew­ish faith and her­itage will devel­op at the novel’s end?