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1.20.2015

Book Review: A Fifty-Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot


Miranda tells the story of her maternal grandparents, Anna and Armand, who escaped Nazi-occupied France during World War II.  Shortly after the war, they were married and had two kids.  Anna subsequently left Armand after 5 years of marriage.  The two only saw each other one time after that, and never spoke again.  Miranda tries to piece together their story, their history, and their relationship, but is doing so when her grandparents are in their late 80s to early 90s.  Their health and their memories are declining.  She decides to move to a small town in the South of France, to the house that her grandparents bought when they were still married.  Here, she meets her now husband, fixes up the house, and tries to sort through papers, books, and her grandparents' hazy memories.

I was able to read this book in about two days- mainly because I couldn't put it down.  Mouillot doesn't mess around with prologues- she jumps right in.  On page 4 of the book, she tells about a freak out she has at her friend's house.  It was due to the fear and anxiety that had been created by stories she had heard all of her young life about the Holocaust and her grandparents' survival.  It immediately sucked me in- I wanted her to find the answers to her questions, and hopefully bring a little peace to herself.
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She is telling two stories simultaneously- her own story of being the grandchild of Jewish refugees during WWII, as well as her grandparents' journey through that time in their lives. The hardest thing for me to follow, was what year it was in her own life.    She also explains in her bibliography that her main sources were her grandparents and her own memories.  She does well to point out in the book when she is imagining what their lives (together and separately) were like- which is all that she can do at some points.  Mouillot does a great job writing about her grandparents' personalities, and it is clear to see throughout why the only thing she can do is extrapolate a story based on the limited information they give her.

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Overall, I was extremely impressed with the book.  I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn't a fable- real people actually lived through these events and had this life.  I agree with some other reviews- this is not a “Holocaust” book- it is the story of Mouillot’s grandparents’ entire life, not just their lives during one point in history.

A Fifty-Year Silence was released today!  You can find it on Amazon (associate links):


I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  The images provided of the text are meant to portray different portions of the book that I found interesting.  There are less than 500 words shown between the 2 images, which is within Crown Publishing's Fair Use Policy.

4 comments:

  1. Biana Perez11:44:00 AM

    This book sounds amazing!! Definitely something I would read!! xo, Biana - BlovedBoston

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  2. It was really good! A very easy read!

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  3. This book sounds really interesting. I need to add more books based on history like this. Even if it wasn't a holocaust book, that parts of it are through that time. So cool.

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  4. It's not a Holocaust book in that they weren't actually sent to Concentration camps- however their lives during the war were kind of intertwined with it- her grandparents' families were sent to the camps- they decided not to flee when they could for a few different reasons. It was really quite interesting.

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