I opened the latest book care package from my neice (she and I exchange books and treats by mail) and this memoir was on top. Wartime France? Check! Family history and mystery? Check! Finding the love of your life in a small village in the south of France? Double check! It appeared to be right up my alley and I happily brewed a cup of coffee, got a cat on my lap and dove in. It didn’t take long before my glee turned ennui. While Ms. Richmond Mouillot is a competent enough writer (that Harvard education and all), the story of her grandparents, who were estranged for fifty years and the tumbledown house they owned in a tiny walled medieval village just failed to grab me. I had a hard time caring about, much less liking these people, and the story would lose momentum going backward and forward in time. What should have been gripping stories about how her Jewish grandparents escaped being shipped off to the death camps more than once failed to stand out amid her meandering fantasies of what might have been the causes that split them up and created such a rift between them. The final “reveal” was no real revelation as the title suggests. It’s not surprising that there wasn’t a definitive answer, though, as life doesn’t always supply us with the tidy endings we can get from a novel or movie. Still I feel bad about panning this book, because it was clearly a labor of love for this young woman, but I just can’t recommend it.
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