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Overview -

Inspired by the wartime experiences of her late father-in-law, award-winning author Bobbie Ann Mason has written an unforgettable novel about an American World War II pilot shot down in Occupied Europe.

When Marshall Stone returns to his crash site decades later, he finds himself drawn back in time to the brave people who helped him escape from the Nazis.  Read more...


 

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Overview

Inspired by the wartime experiences of her late father-in-law, award-winning author Bobbie Ann Mason has written an unforgettable novel about an American World War II pilot shot down in Occupied Europe.

When Marshall Stone returns to his crash site decades later, he finds himself drawn back in time to the brave people who helped him escape from the Nazis. He especially recalls one intrepid girl guide who risked her life to help him -- the girl in the blue beret.

At twenty-three, Marshall Stone was a US flyboy stationed in England. Headstrong and cocksure, he had nine exhilarating bombing raids under his belt when enemy fighters forced his B-17 to crash-land in a Belgian field near the border of France. The memories of what happened next -- the frantic moments right after the fiery crash, the guilt of leaving his wounded crewmates and fleeing into the woods to escape German troops, the terror of being alone in a foreign country -- all come rushing back when Marshall sets foot on that Belgian field again.

Marshall was saved only by the kindness of ordinary citizens who, as part of the Resistance, moved downed Allied airmen through clandestine, often outrageous routes (over the Pyrenees to Spain) to get them back to their bases in England. Even though Marshall shared a close bond with several of the Resistance members who risked their lives for him, after the war he did not look back. But now he wants to find them again -- to thank them and renew their ties. Most of all, Marshall wants to find the courageous woman who guided him through Paris. She was a mere teenager at the time, one link in the underground line to freedom.

MarshallÂ’s search becomes a wrenching odyssey of discovery that threatens to break his heart -- and also sets him on a new course for the rest of his life. In his journey, he finds astonishing revelations about the people he knew during the war -- none more electrifying and inspiring than the story of the girl in the blue beret.

Intimate and haunting, THE GIRL IN THE BLUE BERET is a beautiful and affecting story of love and courage, war and redemption, and the startling promise of second chances.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781400067183
  • ISBN-10: 1400067189


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Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2011-03-14
  • Reviewer: Staff

Mason (In Country) is back with a touching novel about love, loss, war, and memory. Shot down over France during WWII, Marshall Stone takes the controls and lands the plane, helping as many of his surviving airmen to safety as he can. He's saved by the French Resistance and ferried from one safe house to the next until he reaches the U.K. In 1980, after being forced into retirement, he returns to the crash site and vows to find those who helped him. Two in particular stand out in his mind: Robert, the dashing young man who helped plan his escape, and Annette, a school girl who lived in one of the safe houses. Moving between the present and the events he revisits, the novel descends deeper and deeper into memory, profoundly revealing how the past haunts the present. Stone learns that Robert and Annette were both punished for the roles they played in the war, and that memory serves us all differently, saving one while destroying another. Mason's latest, based on the real-life experiences of her father-in-law, is fascinating and intensely intimate. (June)

 
BookPage Reviews

The navigation of memory

Bobbie Ann Mason became an American sensation with her books Shiloh and In Country. She has returned with a fabulous tale that takes her outside the United States, into France and back a few decades in history to the tumultuous years of World War II in The Girl in the Blue Beret.

Mason’s protagonist, Marshall, must navigate the choppy waters of memory in this riveting, understated novel. Years ago, Marshall was involved in a crash-landing in France, and he almost lost his life along the way. As part of his recuperation process, he was sheltered by a host of courageous French citizens—participants in the anti-Nazi cause. Having survived the war, Marshall enjoyed a fairly luxurious life in the States, flying for a commercial airline and drawing strength from a sturdy (if not very passionate) marriage to his patient wife, Loretta. But, newly widowed, Marshall must decide if he wants to fade quietly into senescence. A part of him longs to start a new life in France, back among the people who helped him so long ago.

Mason’s subtle, gorgeous prose keeps us captivated. She is not the kind of writer who relies on stylistic pyrotechnics, yet you occasionally pause to marvel at how real her fictional world seems. Tiny details lodge in your memory—a group of men spraying beer on a “newly-christened” plane, a small cardboard container of black-market ice cream “smuggled in newspapers and straw.” Her characters’ letters are unforgettable. A Frenchman writes—in choppy English—“I am sending you a little word to ask you what are you doing and to tell you that we are going very well and hope that you are the same since we see you.”

Readers who enjoy a well-told, realistic story will want to get their hands on The Girl in the Blue Beret. It’s a novel for lovers of the rich, fully plausible narratives of Anne Tyler and Mona Simpson. Like these two masters, Mason can say quite a bit about America just by telling one man’s tale.

 
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