Joseline was born in England in 1921 to a French father and his British wife. The Dubois family is Jewish. Joseline is an idealistic dreamer and a prolific painter. Like her artwork, Joseline's verbal expressions are more poetry than prose, formal yet beautiful. She is imaginative and longs to see the world not as it is, but as it “ought to be.”
Sarah is Joseline and Monette’s mother and Lucien’s wife. She is a Jewish woman of Ashkenazi heritage and was born in Kent, England. She is, by far, the most practical member of her atypically passionate family. She is generous and conscientious and would do anything for her daughters. She is pragmatic and values reason more than sentiment.
Antelme is from Cameroon and came to France on a soccer scholarship. He is enthusiastic, friendly and often caught up in the excitement of the moment. He joins the French army to fight the Nazi invasion. After the Germans win, he joins the French resistance to fight using guerrilla warfare. Under stress, Antelme overuses humor to deflect from pain and loss.
Clark was born in Cambridge to a British father and his French wife. Her father was a marksman and taught her to shoot at a young age. Married at 20, her husband died in service and she is determined to avenge him. To do so, she has joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service royal artillery as a gunner. Despite her pain, Clark is a woman of irrepressible humor and stamina.
Elkins was born in Romania to a Jewish father and mother, themselves from Germany. She serves as the leader over all female secret agents in France. She has served in British intelligence for years, yet no one knows her true identity. Being a Romanian citizen, and of German descent, would label her an “enemy combatant” in England. Posing as an Anglican Brit, she is aloof and guarded, cagey and unsentimental.
Mireille was raised in an orphanage post-WWI. Her father was killed in action during the war, and her mother passed when she was an infant under mysterious circumstances. She serves as a wireless radio operator, first for the French and later for the British. She is convinced she was orphaned unjustly and is determined to avenge both of her parents.
Vivienne was born in Paris in 1928 to a French mother and her husband, a Chinese merchant from the Wenzhounese trading district in Paris. Playful and supportive, Vivienne is enthralled with people. She is determined to use her thorough observation powers for good. She symbolically represents the innocence of the world "as it should be."
Monette is Joseline’s younger sister, born in England in 1929. Monette is an advocate, sticking up for anyone in trouble and campaigning for what she believes to be right, often without full consideration of the cost. She deeply loves her preoccupied older sister Joseline, so she vigilantly looks after her.
Lucien is Sarah’s husband and Joseline and Monette’s father. He is a Jewish man whose parents fled southwest Russia from the Kishinev pogrom in 1903, settling in France when he was a small boy. He is a dutiful protector who is prone to sacrifice his own interests for the greater good. He served in WW1 and now works building ships for the French navy.
Boucher is a lieutenant in the French Army who received seven citations for bravery in WW1. He has become increasingly nationalistic with each passing year and has come to envision fascism as the ideal society. He finds Democracy morally perverse and Communism to be ineffective. He is convinced that dictatorial authority leads to the greatest good.
Drake was born in New Zealand to a commonwealth Australian father and a Maori mother. As a girl, her Maori uncles trained her daily in many forms of hand-to-hand combat. She developed her hatred for Nazi's after seeing their cruelty firsthand while on an assignment in Vienna. She is completely fearless and excels in crisis. She is both imposing and sarcastic.
Gaspard is a charismatic, confident natural-born leader, the captain of the university football (soccer) team. He is cocky but highly skilled. He was raised as a socialist and has been determined to free France from tyranny since long before the Germans arrived. Obsessed with this cause, he dismisses sentiment as impractical. The exception is his fascination with Joseline, whose mysterious quirks draw him in.
Pilar was born in Zaragoza, Spain in 1922 to a Spanish father and his french wife, a Red Cross nurse. After losing her mother, she and her father fled over the Pyrenees in 1936 to escape the Civil War. She has seen tragedy up close and spots things others miss. Her eclectic sense of humor draws her to Joseline, whose innocence is one of the few things that makes Pilar laugh.
Ward is the commander of the 3rd Armoured Brigade in the British infantry. He is a virtuoso, simultaneously realistic and adventurous. A British spy for years, his military role is actually something of a cover. He interfaces with Allied intelligence during the war, and authorizes the first deployment of female agents behind enemy lines.