Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Fifty-Year Silence


Miranda Richmond Mouillot has taken a family mystery and turned it into a compelling non-fiction tale. A Fifty-Year Silence follows the author's research into the question of her grandparent's relationship and their baffling separation. Part memoir, part autobiography, the story weaves itself between the war-torn European landscape her grandparents called home and her present day search to find her a place to plant her own roots.

Grandmother Anna was a physician who found herself caught in the maelstrom of Nazi-occupied France but somehow managed to maintain her resourcefulness and hope in the face of loss. Husband Armand miraculously survived, albeit more scarred and burdened. War consumed many of his family members in the horror of a "final solution" and his own life followed a twisted path that led to the Nuremberg Trials, where he would act as a translator. 

In the aftermath of the war, the life and love that Anna and Armand knew disappeared and was not spoken of for the next fifty years when their granddaughter, Miranda, took on the task. Returning to their abandoned house in the French countryside, she steps into the past and becomes ever more entrenched in her search for answers. Piece by piece, she slowly extricates bits of information from each grandparent and tries to assemble a story that makes sense of their history.

A Fifty-Year Silence is well-written discourse, full of longing and heartbreak that is all too real. Mouillot's skill as a writer and researcher is impressive. Clearly, she was divinely equipped with the persistence and determination necessary to honor her family's past by telling their heartbreaking story with love.

[I received this book free, from the Blogging for Books program, in exchange for my honest review.]


26 comments:

  1. This book sounds excellent. Your review is quite good.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. You'd enjoy this book, JJ - about half way through, I wanted to hug the author and pat her back.

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    2. Wouldn't that be nice? We'll transport ourselves to all the authors we love so we can thank them and comfort them.

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  2. Sounds like an incredible story. Maybe not my cup of tea (or mug of beer), but an incredible story, rich with history, nonetheless.

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    1. You might be right...but you might be surprised.

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  3. Great review! It sounds like a really good book.

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  4. That title is very engaging. It tells a lot of the story for you.

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    1. When I read a book about someone with passion for something, I'm immediately drawn in. This author's quest consumed her and it was hard to put down.

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  5. Good morning, dear Cherdo!

    Punxsutawney Del here! This morning, right on schedule, I emerged from my den, saw my reflection in the mirror and prognosticated six more weeks on the treadmill.

    (BA-DUM-BUMP)

    Thank you for this rare Sunday evening book review. A Fifty-Year Silence seems like an exciting and compelling journey into a family's past in search of answers to long standing questions. It reminds me of the series that I began on my blog a few years ago and which will resume at some point in the near future. Guest blogger Kathleen Mae Schneider brings us In-Dell-ible Memories, true stories about her mother, Margaret Elizabeth Brown Schneider, and her grandparents, George and Allie Brown. The Brown family built the Shady Dell in 1912 and moved in the following year when Margaret was a one year old child. Now approaching her 103rd birthday, Margaret, through daughter Kathleen, chronicles the rise and fall of her parents' fortunes in early 20th century York, PA. Her father was a butcher, sold home remedies and had a car dealership and sold hunting dogs by mail order. The family somehow angered the local KKK and was threatened by the extremist group when members burned a cross on the road next to their Dell house.

    Much can be learned by delving into a family's history. Thank you for telling me about this book. I hope I have been able to get you and your readers interested in the story of the Browns, the Shady Dell's "First Family."

    Here is a link to the latest chapter of In-Dell-ible Memories which includes at the bottom of the page links to all previous chapters:

    http://shadydell.blogspot.com/2013/11/in-dell-ible-memories-chapter-8-curious.html

    Happy Monday and happy Groundhog Day, dear friend Cherdo!

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    1. You ain't nothin' but a groundhound, cryin' all the time...about the treadmill... (ha ha ha...that made me laugh). My friend's grandfather was the mayor of Punxsutawney and pushed for this "holiday." Everything has a beginning! I wish I was a fly on the wall when he pitched it.

      Intrigued, I had to go to the Dell series immediately - oh, my gosh! That is wonderful. We need more, more, more. I love to know the history of people and places, and that piece was very well done. The old pictures and ties to articles from the family really added to the tale. Loved it.

      This rare Sunday evening book review is a peek into what I do when everyone is interested in the Super Bowl...except yours truly. Rare Sunday, early Monday...you be the judge, tee hee.

      A new week! Time to get going and have a great week, SDK!

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    2. Oh, how interesting. I must edit, but I'll take the time as soon as possible to read about the Browns.

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  6. WW2 seems likely to produce good books well beyond living memory of the war itself. There was something on NPR this week about the ceremony at Auschwitz: 70 years since liberation. They figure they won't be able to have many more with actual survivors of the camp. Their stories, however, have not lost their impact.

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    1. Although this book covered many events, there is very little about what happened to those who went to the concentration camps - until it is discussed in relationship to Armand's duties as a translator at Nuremberg. There was some interesting insight into the "criminals" (they would actually toy with translators in what seemed like the ultimate misplaced, misdirected hubris and audacity).

      I've been really fortunate in these reviews - the books have all been very good.

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    2. That's good. Blogging for Books is such a great idea, though it probably wouldn't last if all the books were terrible.

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  7. Hi, Cherdo. Thanks for sharing your review of this book.

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    1. You're welcome, Susanne! Have a good week!

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  8. This sounds like a really good book! Thanks for sharing, Cherdo!

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  9. This sounds like an excellent read. All to often the people of that time would not talk of their experiences and so many children lost out on their own history and what made their parents "tick". War can have a profound effect on people especially PTSD which most never got help with

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    1. One of the best books I've read lately (I'm on a non-fiction binge). This was different than most of the pre/post war tales.

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  10. Sounds like a wonderful book, Cherdo! Thanks for the drop by at In the Shade. ;-)

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  11. Hi Cherdo,

    Thanx - the story is intriguing with lots of twists and turns and I really enjoyed your review. I am curious to know now why they separated - fancy posting a spoiler - LOL cheers Allie-Millie

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    1. It's not an easy answer, Allie-Millie! If it were simple, it would be brochure instead of a book, ha ha. Take care!

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  12. Most of us don't have grandparents who separated/divorced, mostly because it just wasn't done back then. This sounds like an intriguing book.

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Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo