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Love And War In The Pyrenees: A Story Of…

Love And War In The Pyrenees: A Story Of Courage, Fear And Hope, 1939-1944

by Rosemary Bailey

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The second world war roadside grave stone has always fascinated me. All the more so as the Pyrenean setting is one in which it is extremely difficult to park the car and explore. The French road, which I know so well follows the River Aude through a limestone gorge North of Couiza and South of Limoux. The grave is a poignant landmark as I learnt from a local newspaper following the annual memorial service and laying of wreaths. It was this memorial which led me to obtain this book written by a local author who has unearthed letters, articles and gleaned information from locals. She has thoroughly researched life in this area during the 1939-1944 period; one in which many difficult events took place. We learn of lives disrupted, lost and changed for ever, great movements of people and injustices against innocents. I was highly motivated to read this book yet found it a frustratingly slow read. It was a bringing together of a body of pieces of research linked through the time and setting but to me, lacked a sense of continuity. In essence I was 'loyal' to the book because of my love of this region and my desire to learn more. Overall, a slightly disappointing three star read. ( )
1 vote juliette07 | Sep 4, 2010 |
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After many years of living in the Pyrenees, Rosemary Bailey came to realise how little she knew about the impact of the Second World War on her community; indeed, how little people wanted her to know. The wartime experiences of the region are still very much a veiled history. Although people now acknowledge that the role of the Resistance in winning the war was glorified way beyond its actual numbers or achievements, few are willing to admit the extent of the acceptance of the German Occupation, of the Fascist ideals of the Vichy government and the degree of collusion, passive or active, that occurred throughout these war years. The world still knows little of the French concentration camps in the Pyrenees, the treatment of the Jews, the reaction to the Spanish refugees who fled across the border at the end of the Spanish Civil War and their role in the Resistance. Many of the archives remain firmly closed. Rosemary Bailey connects the history to places that can still be visited today: the Mediterranean beaches where thousands were forced into camps, the escape routes followed across the mountains, the Resistance hideouts and midnight parachute landing grounds, and Valmanya, the village burned to the ground in vicious reprisal. She succeeds in creating immediacy out of the past, through love letters, interviews and encounters with people today, offering an emotional history underlying the bitter facts of wartime that is deeply affecting.- BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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