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.
©2015 Miranda Richmond Mouillot (P)2015 Random House Audio
"Charming, understated... A wonderful evocation of the way that the Holocaust has haunted many generations." (Publishers Weekly)
"A moving family history researched with dedication and completed with a granddaughter's love." (Kirkus Reviews)
"A Fifty-Year Silence is one of those exceedingly rare books that touches you deep down - page by page - through the rawness of its story and its sheer insight. The extraordinary quality of the prose, the elegance of the storytelling, and the genius with which Miranda Richmond Mouillot has laid down the twists and turns make this a book to treasure. It is a memoir that sings to us all." (Tahir Shah, author of The Caliph's House)
I enjoyed this book a great deal. It was made more special because it was read by the author. I did so miss having the opportunity to see photos of the family and house
"So what happened?"
This is the true story of what happened to the author's maternal grandparents, who were Holocaust survivors, who got married, bought a house, had two children, and who then didn't talk again. Thus the title, A Fifty-Year Silence. Anna, the grandmother, had a joyous outlook on life till the day she died, and who called the war (WWII) "her instruction book on life". Armand, the grandfather, hated the cards life had dealt him and became a mean-spirited atheist, although it was obvious he loved Miranda, his granddaughter. I greatly enjoyed this book, about love and loss, about how love can be so precarious and easily crushed when trampled. It was the story of a journey, a how-did-this-happen? expedition. You'll have to read it yourself to find out if there's a tidy answer or a sense of "Ah, I understand".
"a delightful brilliant young author and narrator.
loved this touching story and personal narration. very well written. not overly sentimental. well done.
"Oh, how I loved this story.."
This brilliant author could have made this so morose. It is serious history and most of these books are horrible memoirs of man's inhumanity. But she gave this book a life or several lives of it's own. She intrigues you with the mystery then intermingles it with her life and the growth of relationship. My great grandmother had the same essence as her grandmother, oh, the flood of memories I experienced. This book has good writing, heart, hurt, love, change, mystery, and love. I have listened to it twice. Yes there were very sad parts but the hand of destiny gives that magical and tempers the things we can roll with or bury our feet in cement.
When she tried to tell her grandmother how she felt about her and the reaction of her grandmother could have been perceived with pain, hurt but it is shown to be the way she says, "I know, I know, lighten up,". That is not exactly it but maybe you get it. My great grandmother would have reacted exactly like that and I adored her. She and I were connected. Maybe that is the theme here. Her grandfather and her found that relationship that could of just as easily not happened. Awe but the grandmother just seems to see a little further down the road than the rest of us. Beautiful.
Oh, I see this entire book as a scene. But the finding of the photo of her grandparents stands out. Amazing what we can see in a moment captured.
What is a tag line? The title would work, this is real, while the time in history is not happening now. there is always a place in world in which there is war and terror and certainly we are at no lack of family difficulties.
Thank you so much. This book was a meteor in my head, touch my heart, and is now a part of me forever. I love it. Thank you
*The author's narration was beautiful also, her voice is a teaser though. I felt I had heard it before. Reminded me of young Ellen Burstyn.
"A Great read"
I enjoyed this book. The coming-of-age of the author as she tries to understand why her grandparents refused to speak to each other for over 50 years was both moving and unique. I laughed and cried in places, and loved that the author narrated this book herself. I could picture Both of Miranda's grandparents, their feisty desire for her to both remember and let go, to love and to hold at arm's length. The dilapidated house was a terrific symbol of hope, of ruin, of renewal and disappointment.
A well-written, well-read biography, both of the author and of her grandparents themselves.
"Very interesting and reflective"
This documents a past we should never ever forget and Miranda does an excellent job making readers feel like they are right there with her through every conversation she has with her grandparents. Nicely written and brilliantly narrated.
This is a mind and eye-opener even for those of us who search for such things. Moving to say the very least. An excellent production.
"Great listen and wonderful history angle"
The author does a lovely job of capturing history through the eyes of personal experience. I was often anxious to begin a new listening series in order to find out further events. However, the story is not told in a specifically sequential manner, and activities are often enumerated outside of a logical timeframe to the listener. It was not revealed until the very end of the book the specific reason as to the estrangement, and the reader/listener would often find themselves wondering "why don't you ask ________?" The narration was extremely well done and it was never questioned as to who is speaking due to the narrator's great ability to distinguish characters' voices.
The narrator is the author of the book. It was read in different character voices which help the reader associate with the characters. A very personal & informative book during a sad term of events.
"An Amazing Story"
Such a personal account
I loved the way she imitated her Grandmother's accent.
The whole book was moving
I cannot seem to wrap my head around the storyline of this book. There is no satisfying conclusion or demystification. The audience is left to linger and reach their own conclusions about what truly happened with this couple. I'm sorry, but simply not my cup of tea. Oh, and the author made it all about her. I'm sorry of offer my frankness so blatantly.
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