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How did I love this book? Let me count the ways...
I got lost in it, which is exactly what I needed. Her journey became mine. I was completely invested in finding out the secrets that consumed the writer and main character, but in the end, like Mirandali, I found so much more than facts as answers.
As a child I has a Frenchman for an uncle. My mother's sister had married a darling little Frenchman, short, funny, and loving. It was like Christmas every day when he was around because he was not only always ready to have a good time, but he would bend down on one knee and actually look me in the eyes and listen to me as if what I had to say was actually of merit. He liked to laugh and he made me feel happy. He was handsome and my friends were all jealous (or so I thought) that this wonderful man was my family. Maybe that's why I have always had a penchant for things French. Although his promise of a visit to his mother's home in France if I learned the language didn't help me muster through a French class, it did produce in me a fondness for French food- especially cheeses. I'm learning to make a raw goat milk Crottin this year. I think I will perfect it and call it Crottin de Alain in his honor. I miss him.
Back to the book- I also have a serious fascination for WWII and the holocaust and the survivors. I feel strongly that as horrible as the truth about it all is, it needs to be read and discussed. It seems like we owe it to all of those people who lived and died and suffered then. The ones who suffer now.
A Fifity-Year Silence is brilliantly written. Mrs. Mouillot is a polished writer. She writes deeply and well. Her journey to find out the truth of her family's tragedy and thus her own (many holocaust survivors have somehow passed down fears and anxiety to their children and grandchildren, all the while keeping the horrors locked away tight. How does this happen?) takes her to Europe and a rock pile of an old house her grandparents still own and fight about in the South of France. Her romantic ideas are often squelched by real life; the cold, vandalizing neighbors, lack of funds. I admire her for her tenacity, which is so like her Grandmother's. She was determined to live in that house.
In this book I got to know a family, not just Miranda herself. I felt her grandfather and his fussy ways was mine, and her zesty, vivacious grandmother was mine too! I fell in love with them and felt some ownership in the history- that's the mark of a good writer.. Again, she's brilliant. I couldn't put it down but I hated for it to end. This one I will keep on my shelf just in case I find myself wanting to visit La Roche again.
*I was given a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost in exchange for a written, unbiased online review.