The Girl in the Blue Beret: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Jun 28 2011
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Praise for The Girl in the Blue Beret
"“The new novel from best-selling author Bobbie Ann Mason will send you dashing to the shelves to devour everything else she's ever written — it's that good. … Mason weaves a spellbinding tale of war, love and survival. … The Girl in the Blue Beret is not only a remarkable work of historical fiction, it's also storytelling at its best.” – Associated Press
“Ushering her readers back and forth across the decades, she perfectly weaves history with fiction. In many ways the book is a tribute to these unsung civilians whose heroism often was never acknowledged by those they helped. [A] near-perfect war story.” – USA Today
“Mason has long been considered one of the finest writers of regional fiction — Kentucky is her home and inspiration — but her affecting new novel takes place in France, and she’s just as comfortable and insightful there…once again, Mason has plumbed the moral dimensions of national conflict in the lives of individual participants and produced a deeply moving, relevant novel.” –Washington Post
“Mason has given us a portrait of a man from a generation whose members were uncertain about the protocols of letting oneself feel. And she has lovingly captured the tone of bluff assertion still shared by veterans of that war. Marshall’s banality has the ring of truth; his awkwardness reveals much….The Girl in the Blue Beret is a work of remarkable empathy.” – New York Times Book Review
“To Curl Up with: A pilot shot down over France returns years later to search for the jeunne fille who rescued him. Mason’s lovely tale, drawn from her [father-in-law’s] wartime experience, will resonate for many.” – Good Housekeeping
“The Girl in the Blue Beret is an impressive novel. Mason writes with confidence about integrity, memory, love, the war in Europe – and a likeable man. …Recommended for all historical fiction readers.” – Historical Novels Review
"[An] impressive, impassioned new novel. The unforgettable story, based on the author’s father-in-law’s wartime experiences, is a gripping tale of redemption." –Miami Herald
"A flight through the gripping, war-ravaged past and the discovery of love—Bobbie Ann Mason's moving novel is written with great clarity and insight."—Kim Edwards, author of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and The Lake of Dreams
“An elegant and eventually lovely story of war, need and apprehension.”—Roy Blount Jr., author of Alphabet Juice and Long Time Leaving
“Fascinating and intensely intimate….A touching novel about love, loss, war, and memory….profoundly revealing how the past haunts the present.”—Publishers Weekly
“An emotionally powerful story of the ruinous effects of war.”—Booklist
“[A] haunting novel... [with] rich setting, detail, and intimate character nuances….for fans of the award-winning author, World War II fiction, and novels with French settings. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal
Praise for Bobbie Ann Mason
“Bobbie Ann Mason is one of those rare writers who, by concentrating their attention on a few square miles of native turf, are able to open up new and surprisingly wide worlds for the delighted reader.”—The New York Review of Books, about Shiloh and Other Stories
“Brilliant and moving . . . a moral tale that entwines public history with private anguish.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review, about In Country
“A dramatic triumph . . . Synopsis cannot begin to do justice to the complexity, drama, and ultimate benevolence of Mason’s vision.”—Chicago Tribune, about Feather Crowns
“Sitting down with one of these stories may well be the next best thing to going home again.”—The Wall Street Journal, about Zigzagging Down a Wild Trail
About the Author
Bobbie Ann Mason is the author of In Country, Shiloh and Other Stories, An Atomic Romance, Nancy Culpepper, and a memoir, Clear Springs. She is the winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, two Southern Book Awards, and numerous other prizes, including the O. Henry and the Pushcart. She was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the American Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. She is writer-in-residence at the University of Kentucky.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Along with other French 'resistants', the girl in the blue beret comes across as a real heroine. And Annette sounds like another Corrie ten Boom, living above the suffering she endured and still able to smile.
The only criticism I have is that the abrupt ending left readers hanging. Did Marshall finally locate Robert or no? Did he find love a second time or no? We are left to write our own ending on that.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Stone remembers the great kindness he was shown and especially the unbelievable courage of these people. He especially remembers a teen-age girl in a blue beret, who guided him through war-torn Paris to meet his contacts. His escape route took him on a harrowing journey over the Pyrenees to Spain, but he made it back to his base and never looked back. Now a 60-year-old widower and anxious to make peace with his past, Stone returns to Belgium determined to find the brave people who saved his life so long ago. What follows is an amazing story of courage and redemption and another chance at love. And yes, he does find the girl in the blue beret, whose own story is both powerful and effecting.
There was a good story here, but it never came to life. In addition to one-dimensional characters, disconnected dialogue, and annoying redundancies, the sequence of events is deliberately muddled at the beginning, and the point of view remains distant throughout. I was completely bored until chapter 24 when the details of the forced landing are finally explained. The story of the girl in the blue beret does not begin until the end of chapter 42 (out of 60 chapters, mind you), and even then its narration is detached and perfunctory. The author missed her chance to create empathy for the characters and suspense about their fate by not introducing them as their younger selves earlier in the story. As it was, I didn't care if the retired pilot ever found the people who had helped him--or a new girlfriend. I just wanted the book to be over.
This book is easy to put down and not have any feeling of rushing back to find out what happened next. I'm about half way through and really only sticking with it because I have nothing else in the house I have not already read.
To be honest, I am forced to wonder if I'm the only reader who feels like the reviews are exaggerated praise for a humdrum work by well-established author. The writing is choppy and, though it tries to be emotionally evocative, never quite reaches the point of touching this reader's heart. Marshall is a very unsympathetic "hero." Self-absorbed and almost egotistic, he dully recounts his lackluster relationships with his now-deceased wife and children while obsessing over memories of women he encountered (and slept with) only briefly during the war. I tried to forgive his failings and write them off as realism, but his personality is otherwise as lackluster as his relationships and I just couldn't bring myself to get drawn into his story. His recollections of his past are as drably recounted as the rest of his narrative. Sad to say, I worked hard to like the novel, but I have failed miserably and am returning it to the library unfinished.