A Fifty-year Silence

A Fifty-year Silence

Love, War, and A Ruined House in France

Book - 2015
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A young woman travels to France to uncover the truth about her grandparents' mysterious and irrevocable estrangement, and pieces together the extraordinary story of their wartime experiences.
Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, ♭2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780804140645
Characteristics: xiv, 271 pages :,illustrations, maps ;,22 cm
Alternative Title: 50-year silence


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Apr 18, 2020

I wanted to like this book, but one of the reasons I could not was that it was too many books in one. There are too many unresolved mysteries. As an autobiographic study of the efforts of Miranda Richmond Mouillot to understand herself and the alienation of her maternal grandparents. Trauma travels down through generations. Miranda as a young child puts her shoes by the door so that if she needs to escape she can find them easily. She has no idea what she needs to escape from, but a sense of fear has been communicated to her at a very early age. Her story rings true, but I thought I was reading a book about her Jewish grandparents' survival of WWII. Then we have the mystery of the old abandoned house in the south of France. We never really learn why it was purchased, and it just disappears from the narrative. The impression I had at first was that the book concerned Holocaust survivors. Fortunately her grandparents were never in a death camp, but they certainly suffered the effects of hunger, fear, and displacement during the war. This was communicated to Miranda. The major task of the book is piecing together the relationship of her grandparents. I found this aspect to be the most disappointing. Miranda comes to the conclusion that in all their married life they actually lived together for about 6 weeks, but this hardly captures their relationship. She attempts to reconstruct their lives from scant documentation and without a great deal of assistance from either grandparent. I found the result very unsatisfactory. We never know the cause of the fifty year silence. Kristi & Abby Tabby

Nov 08, 2018

This biography was a great read - especially in view of Remembrance Day. The narrator (Miranda) is a very likeable woman who is searching for the reasons behind her grandparents fifty year estrangement. To do this, she travels to a tumbling down stone house that her grandparents own in France; she camps out here in an almost desperate search for answers. I found it was hard to put down!

wendybird Aug 21, 2018

This book was suggested to me by one of those "if you read this, you might also like" book algorithms. The software wasn't wrong: : a brief glance at the summary (dust jacket "... in 1948, after surviving World War II by escaping the Nazis, and ending up in Swiss refugee camps, the author's grandparents bought a stone house in a remote village in the South of France...") told me the plot had potential for romance, some thrilling adventure, set in one of my favorite places.
It is a fine memoir, told as a series of interviews by writer Miranda Mouillet with her long-divorced grandparents. We follow along as she tries to unearth the title's mystery : neither elderly relative will explain either the marriage's demise nor the inexplicably magical (if ramshackle) home to her, let alone how they both survived war torn, demonically anti-Semitic Europe. The questions obsess her. She moves to France, and into the ramshackle Alba home.
Under the guise of higher education, she scours nearby archives, diaries, and official papers in search of plausible explanations. Her war-ravaged ancestors clearly loved each other as well as the house, at one point time: what happened? As Mouillet moves closer to an answer, the topsy-turvy lives of these two young Jews unrolls before us as an incredible, impossible, and sometime heart breaking story.

Jul 26, 2015

The author tells the story of her grandparents Anna and Armand's World War II experience fleeing Nazi-occupied France to work among other refugees in Switzerland. The antagonism they developed after their brief marriage is a mystery their granddaughter tries to solve.
Lovingly rendered by their granddaughter, this book tells a tale of two people in the greater story of the Holocaust and those left who must remember. It is also Miranda’s story coming of age.

Jul 02, 2015

Wishing to get to the heart of the antipathy between her maternal grandparents, the author starts a journey back through time. Anna and Armand, stateless Jews who spend World War II in a Swiss refugee camp, have a very brief marriage that produces two children. Anna, a physician, and Armand, a translator at the Nuremburg trials, separate after the war. Anna goes to America while Armand remains in Switzerland. As the author grows up, she becomes more curious about her grandparents' story. The author's journey ensues when her grandfather wants to sell his house in France and needs his wife's permission to do so. As Miranda negotiates her way through this hostile situation, she acquires a French husband and learns the truth about her grandparents' war.

ChristchurchLib Mar 16, 2015

"After surviving World War II, author Miranda Richmond Mouillot's grandparents, Armand and Anna, moved into a house in southern France, then emigrated to New York. Five years later, they separated and never reconciled. Miranda, born in 1981, grew up with only a vague idea of their wartime ordeals and why they separated. When she learned that the old house in France was being sold, she decided to move into it and do some research in family records, hoping to learn more about her grandparents' estrangement. A Fifty-Year Silence hauntingly depicts what Miranda discovered about them." Biography and Memoir March 2015 newsletter http://libraryaware.com/996/NewsletterIssues/ViewIssue/8b83e151-85a6-4a03-8ead-b05af98073dc?postId=c1e603a5-9688-4371-9057-6bc36165e997

Mar 06, 2015

I found this to be a fascinating book. The writer was skilled enough that I had to remind myself that I was not reading a novel, but reading a real life story about family relationships, difficult decisions and the story of two individuals caught up being Jewish in WWII France and Switzerland.

booklady413 Feb 13, 2015

A love story of sorts - the author's grandparents lived through WWII surviving in their own separate ways. Miranda's grandmother, Anna, was a physician, and her grandfather, Armand, an interpreter at the Nuerenberg trial. The author explores her grandparents' lives trying to explain their love and how the atrocities of that time period had played a part in the complicated lives of Anna and Armand; how understanding their lives, she could move forward in her own life.


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ArapahoeMarcia Aug 26, 2016

"Armand and Anna fell in love, bought a house, and never spoke again."

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