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.