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Shadows of a Childhood by Elisabeth Gille

Shadows of a Childhood (1998)

by Elisabeth Gille

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321347,362 (3.88)1
  1. 00
    Margot: A Novel by Jillian Cantor (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Each of these haunting, melancholy, and moving historical novels depicts a young Jewish woman's struggle to move forward after her family's death during the Holocaust. While Margot offers rays of hope, Shadows of a Childhood takes a darker turn.… (more)

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I was interested in reading a bit about World War II and the French Resistance, so I went to my trusty catalog and did a few searches. This book was about two girls: one was Jewish; the other girl’s family took her in after being hidden in a convent school during the war. I was also interested in this book because the author wrote about what it was like for French Jews after the war had ended.

Lea, the main character, is not very likable. She is snobby, self-obsessed, rude or dismissive to adults, and has no interest in anybody other than her friend, Benedicte. They meet when Lea is brought to the convent school that Benedicte attends – her parents had been exported to Poland, the authorities were looking for the 5-year-old Lea. The nuns agree to take her in, and she meets Benedicte.

I knew what I was getting into – it’s a 138 page book. There’s not going to be a lot of depth here. I will almost never pick up a historical novel that weighs less than five pounds – I like them to be in-depth and filled to the brim with, oh, 50% history, 25% novel, and 25% cleverness of author to weave the two without giving up the facts or making it seem hokey with lots of conversation. Antonia Fraser can do it.

There were some ideas that were brought up that I hadn’t considered before. Lea, who obviously survived WWII, is angry at her country because she doesn’t believe that the French Resistance was helping the Jews. In retrospect, they CLAIM to – but Lea believes that they were acting in their own self-interest. She feels desperately alone in this viewpoint and begins to loathe herself and her people.

Very interesting little book. Of course, I wish there were MORE of it.

Oh wait! There IS more! There’s more WWII Historical Fiction out there than I can shake a stick at. Good thing, because this book was just a single little appetizer for me. Let’s see what else is out there. ( )
  anterastilis | Feb 24, 2009 |
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A Jewish girl in World War II whose parents are deported to a concentration camp is hidden in a convent school in France. The novel describes her friendship with the daughter of a resistance fighter whose family adopts her. After the war she becomes obsessed with war-crime trials, attending them frequently.… (more)

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