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The Girl in the Blue Beret: A Novel by…

The Girl in the Blue Beret: A Novel (2011)

by Bobbie Ann Mason

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2101855,654 (3.28)22



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I gravitate towards WW2 human interest stories.
This was a decent read but at times seemed long in making a point.

But ...I did learn more of WW2 the French Resistance and occupied France. (an objective)
Courage and love and memories and all of its challenges made this a nostalgic
fiction real.
"Over three thousand Allied airmen were rescued during the war, and an extraordinary, deep bond between them and their European helpers endures..."

Terrific cover and bookseller has reading guide questions available ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 14, 2015 |
The Girl in the Blue Beret by Bobbie Ann Mason is the story of a World War II vet who returns to France to find the people who helped him when his plane was shot down. It's the story of an aspect of the French resistance I knew little about prior to reading this book.

I found it interesting that many women who have reviewed The Girl in the Blue Beret, were put off by Marshall Stone, the main character, by the way he seemed to move on quickly after the death of his wife. His lack of mourning disrespected her memory. I read another book recently where the same situation occurred with the gender roles reversed. I reacted to that story more than this one. I suppose it is because I could identify with the man who died prior to the beginning of Turkmen Captives by Susan Williamson more than I could identify with Lorretta in Mason's work. A reader brings his or her own perspective to a novel, which is why a book can be very different for different people.

Marshall is cold in the beginning, but I give him points for recognizing his flaws. In one section he says the downing of his plane in occupied France was the worst day of his life, then feels guilty that he relegated the death of his wife to the second worst day. I also believe he opened up as the emotions from the rediscovered war memories got to him. Characters in a good novel change along the journey and Marshall certainly did.

There's an unusual distance in this book that works well, given the subject matter. The vast majority of the story is told in the characters' dialog, as they reflect on their experiences, so it is a second hand story. Although “show don't tell” is a good axiom for beginning writers, experienced writers generally use what is appropriate for what they are trying to accomplish. Bobbie Ann Mason decided to “tell” this book and I think her choice works.

This is a good book for people who like historical fiction in a World War II setting.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions ( )
  SteveLindahl | Nov 29, 2014 |
An intriguing use of family history as the basis for a novel, and very interesting in its perspective on the French resistance movement. I enjoyed reading it and found it useful as a book to read in small sections before bed: sufficiently compelling without demanding that I continue. It's difficult to balance careful research (which this work appears to have in abundance) with the emotional dynamics of storytelling. In this case, the narrative feels like a deftly built container to hold an understanding of an era and several types of people who inhabited that time.

I didn't have the problems with disjointedness that other readers did, and although I did look for a page beyond the ending I also found that the closure was satisfying in that it sidestepped cliché.

The dialogue, which others have felt was stilted, reflects the locutions of French rendered in English. I never quite decided what I thought of the technique. It didn't annoy me, but it never felt completely natural and I think it also reinforced a sense of emotional distance.

I am glad that I read it. If a book doesn't meet basic, stringent criteria, I don't finish it. The fact that The Girl in the Blue Beret passed that test is significant. ( )
  robson663 | Jun 20, 2014 |
Okay story just a bit of a dull read ( )
  lindap69 | Apr 5, 2013 |
Slow moving plot line but interesting background on a branch of the French resistance who specialized in guiding Allied pilots out of France over the Pyrenees to Spain. Excellent source notes for fiction.
More interesting as history than as prose ljh 4/2/12
  PotomacLibrary | Apr 2, 2012 |
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Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven! --William Wordsworth, "The Prelude"
Dedicated to Michele Agniel and to the memory of Barney Rawlings (1920-2004)
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As the long field came into view, Marshall Stone felt his breathing quicken, a rush of doves flying from his chest.
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An American World War II pilot shot down in Occupied Europe returns to his crash site decades later and finds himself drawn back in time to the brave people who helped him escape from the Nazis.

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