Inspired by a true story, the best-selling author of In Country offers a gorgeous, haunting novel about an airline pilot coming to terms with his past, and searching for the people who saved him during World War II. After Marshall Stone's B-17 bomber was shot down in occupied Europe in 1944, people in the French Resistance helped him escape to safety. One of the brave French people who risked their lives for him was a lively girl in Paris--a girl identified by her blue beret. After the war Marshall returned to America, raised a family, and became a successful airline pilot. He tried to forget the war. Now, in 1980, he returns to France and finds himself drawn back in time--memories of the crash, the terror of being alone in a foreign country where German soldiers were hunting down fallen Allied aviators, the long months of hiding. Marshall finds the people who helped him escape from the Nazis and falls in love with the woman who was the girl in the blue beret. He also discovers astonishing revelations about the suffering of the people he had known during the war. Bobbie Ann Mason's novel, inspired by her father-in-law's wartime experiences, is a beautifully woven story of love, war, and second chances.
In a nutshell this is the story of Marshall, a retired pilot in 1980, who goes back to France to try and find the people who sheltered him during World War 2.
The publisher’s summary refers to his search as “a wrenching odyssey of discovery that threatens to break his heart—and also sets him on a new course for the rest of his life”. Huh? Are we talking about the same book??
I didn’t like it. I just didn’t “buy in” to the characters - and therefore the story. I could not relate to Marshall (the main character) so I didn’t believe his longing to connect with the past and embark on the journey. The rest of the cast was no better, they all seemed like caricatures more than anything else - cliché and exaggerated. … Frankly, I didn’t give a bleep about anyone!!
Regarding the narration, this book drove home my biggest pet peeve with audio books: a narrator who doesn’t have a knack for foreign languages or accents. In this case it was French, and it was very irksome to hear it be massacred over and over again. Things like: pronouncing “Rue” as “Roo” or pronouncing the N in “ca va bien” when it’s meant to be silent.
Glad to be done with this one!
Would you listen to The Girl in the Blue Beret again? Why?
Probably not. I got the story the first time around, enjoyed it, but it's not in my top ten all time books.
What did you like best about this story?
The setting--it gave a new WWII perspective. A former WWII pilot revisits the scene of where he crashed in Belgium/France and the people who risked their lives to save him forty years ago. The towns, the food, the differences in the French way of life made it very interesting.
Which scene was your favorite?
Any of the scenes where the characters are sitting around a table (or are picnicing) having some wine and delicious food. I wanted to join in.My favorite scene, in a odd way, was when Annette surprised Marshall with the final story of her wartime experience. I won't say more, don't want to be a spoiler.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No. It was much too long for that.
Any additional comments?
I was to host a book club meeting focused on this book, when I experienced a painful scratched cornea, and I'd barely started the book. I decided to join Audible and listen to the book. The narrator made the book even more interesting--good job! I was able to finish the book in a few days without difficulty, and host the group discussion. We all enjoyed the book.