The past is never as clear or uncomplicated as it may appear. We may think we know the whole story, but there are always new details and nuances to consider or uncover. Do we ever know the full story? Is it even possible?
When Miranda Richmond began to look into the reason for her grandparents divorce 50 years earlier, and why they had not talked to each other in all that time, she was sure there was an event, a clear reason for the breakup and resulting silence between them. A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France follows her on the journey to find the answer.
Thinking it was simple act of asking the right questions, she began with her grandmother, but found only vague answers. She new better than to even mention her grandmother to her grandfather, in fear of him blacklisting her too. Instead, she stuck to asking him about his past and what he remembered. Still getting no where, she decides to retrace the steps her grandparents took, thinking she would stumble across the answers she sought.
Moving to France, she gains more insight into the time period her Jewish grandparents grew up in and the time when they met. She even gathered information about the war (WWII), the deportations, even finding information about the various places her grandmother and grandfather lived, and work they did . With all the information at her fingertips, she could barely figure out how it was they were married, let alone the reason for their divorce.
Feeling like she is at the end, yet no where closer to an answer than when she began, it takes her meeting her future husband to start putting all the pieces together. With her grandfather’s memory going, her grandmother’s health bringing her life to an end, and Miranda Richmond Mouill0t’s life just starting she thinks she may have figured it out.
Attraction may be what brought them together, but ultimately it was an act of love that caused the divorce. It was also an act of love that resulted in 50 years of silence between two people who still could not seem to let go of each other.
A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France is not a fasted paced book. The slower development of the story at first annoyed me. By the middle of the book, I came to find that the pace of the book very much aligned with the story and only added to the experience. As often happens in life, events and conclusions do not fit inside a 30 minute segment on t.v. between commercials. Often they are developed bit by bit over time, a little here, a little there, woven between weeks or years. If I was frustrated by the lack of development at any point in reading this story, how much more so Miranda who was searching for the answers, not knowing if they would ever be found?
While I may like the ending of a story to have no loose ends and be presented with a neatly wrapped bow placed on top, this is not how life functions and not how A Fifty-Year Silence ends. Just like in life, the end is never the end.
Miranda Richmond Mouillot does a great job not only summing up her view of her grandparents lives together and separately, but also showing how the story never really ends. It continues on with those of us who come after, flowing from the story of those who have gone before us.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
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