Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Review: The Fifty-Year Silence

I enjoy reading memoirs.  There is wisdom to glean in every well-written memoir.  A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in Franceshares both the life experiences of the young author and those of her recently deceased grandparents.

The author travels from America to rural France in an attempt to understand the vicious anger and long-time separation of her grandparents that began soon after World War II.  The book follows the trail of Anna and Armand's sometimes horrific experiences of fleeing Nazi-occupied France, losing friends and family and their personal suffering in labor camps.  Because of their extreme negative feelings for each other and a refusal to speak to or about the other, the author has a years-long struggle to gather information and put the pieces together.  In the meantime, the author is forming her own attachments and experiences in France.

The narration is a bit choppy, jumping back and forth between subjects as well as back and forth across decades, and there are a few loose ends that are not able to be neatly wrapped up (as in any real life), but nonetheless leaving me with a slightly defeated feeling at the end.  Despite these challenges, this is a fascinating look at one family's love and loss in the shadow of a terrible war.  

I learned a lot about the holocaust, about each individual's ability to choose joy in spite of pain and how family trauma can influence future generations.  In the end, the author finds her own joy along journey.  

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.
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The Roy Family said...

Hey friend! Thanks for a new must read! Great review!

Jennie Nelson said...

Thank you so much! :)