A Fifty Year Silence: Love, War, and Ruined House in France by Miranda Richmond Mouillot
Age range: adult | Paperback: 304 pages | Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (January 19, 2016)
About A Fifty Year Silence:
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.
About the Author:
MIRANDA RICHMOND MOUILLOT was born in Asheville, North Carolina. She lives in the South of France with her family.
Find the Book:
Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
My Thoughts on A Fifty Year Silence:
I wavered between four and five stars on this book. It’s so good. A few times I felt confused, like I didn’t get the whole story, but that’s what the book is about – piecing together a story from sparse documents and fading memories.
A Fifty Year Silence is about the author’s journey to discover her grandparents’ story — what brought them together, what tore them apart, and the biggest question of all – did they ever love each other? Her search for information starts as a young girl and continues through her college years and beyond, when she moves to the crumbling ruin she frequently calls a house in France. She searches for answers, falls in love, and discovers a family history more extraordinary than any novel.
I love this book. It is a beautiful account of a woman learning her family’s story and loving the life she’s been granted because of the hardships of her predecessors. There are so many sides to the story of World War II, and this is one that adds another layer to a complicated part of history and the unseen effects it had then and now.
Content: Human suffering and abuse, one instance of strong language (f-bombs).
Source: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
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