Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Review of: A Fifty-Year Silence, Love War and a Ruined House In France - by Miranda Richmond Mouillot - I gave this book three stars.

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My ReviewMiranda Richmond Mouillot takes on the task of trying to put together her Grandparents lives, Armaund and Anna who married during WWII, bought a house, escaped from refugee camps in Switzerland, had two children and then split up.  Something happened while they were living she as a physician and he as an interpreter at the Nuremberg Trials.  She left him with their two children and they never spoke or saw each other again for the next fifty years.  Her Grandfather won’t’ even speak his wife’s name.  Miranda moves into the stone house that is their property although they never lived there in the south of France.  Miranda spend her time researching every letter, every journal everything she can get her hands on that happened during the time they were married, she writes letters to her Grandmother who will answer some questions, she asks her Grandfather questions and he is suffering from some onset of Alzheimer’s and will some of the time share tales of their marriage and what happened during the war and afterward.  Some of the time he will not give her answers he just asks, what did your Grandmother said happened.  I usually love books based on this time frame, based on what happened to many of the people who went through WWII.  I didn’t like this book, I kept reading hoping to like the characters, I didn’t, hoping to find that Miranda had finally found information that would lead to something of an interesting story the further I got into the book the further I hated the time it was taking her to find information.  There were many times there were phrases in French, I didn’t understand them and there was no footnotes to explain, much of the time she would research only to come to dead ends.  The book really wasn’t interesting to me until three quarters into the book.  I really wanted to like this book and I just didn’t like the process of her personal search.  This book was probably really interesting to family and friends who read the book who knew the family; I don’t believe this was the book for me.  I’m really sorry it just seemed a bit dry and I found myself stumbling through this book finding interest three quarters into the book when they started finally to really get and share answers and also to describe more about what was going on with the Nuremberg trials and its effect on Miranda’s Grandfather, and others who lived through them. "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

More About The Book:
A young woman moves across an ocean to uncover the truth about her grandparents' mysterious estrangement and pieces together the extraordinary story of their wartime experiences

In 1948, after surviving World War II by escaping Nazi-occupied France for refugee camps in Switzerland, the author's grandparents, Anna and Armand, bought an old stone house in a remote, picturesque village in the South of France. Five years later, Anna packed her bags and walked out on Armand, taking the typewriter and their children. Aside from one brief encounter, the two never saw or spoke to each other again, never remarried, and never revealed what had divided them forever.

A Fifty-Year Silence is the deeply involving account of Miranda Richmond Mouillot's journey to find out what happened between her grandmother, a physician, and her grandfather, an interpreter at the Nuremberg Trials, who refused to utter his wife's name aloud after she left him.  To discover the roots of their embittered and entrenched silence, Miranda abandons her plans for the future and moves to their stone house, now a crumbling ruin; immerses herself in letters, archival materials, and secondary sources; and teases stories out of her reticent, and declining, grandparents.  As she reconstructs how Anna and Armand braved overwhelming odds and how the knowledge her grandfather acquired at Nuremberg destroyed their relationship, Miranda wrestles with the legacy of trauma, the burden of history, and the complexities of memory.  She also finds herself learning how not only to survive but to thrive – making a home in the village and falling in love.

With warmth, humor, and rich, evocative details that bring her grandparents' outsize characters and their daily struggles vividly to life, A Fifty-Year Silence is a heartbreaking, uplifting love story spanning two continents and three generations.

More About The Author:

Photo © Tristan Zilberman

Miranda Richmond Mouillot was born in Asheville, North Carolina. She lives in the South of France with her husband, daughter, and cat.