A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France by Miranda Richmond MouillotA young woman moves across an ocean to uncover the truth about her grandparents mysterious estrangement and pieces together the extraordinary story of their wartime experiences
In 1948, after surviving World War II by escaping Nazi-occupied France for refugee camps in Switzerland, the authors grandparents, Anna and Armand, bought an old stone house in a remote, picturesque village in the South of France. Five years later, Anna packed her bags and walked out on Armand, taking the typewriter and their children. Aside from one brief encounter, the two never saw or spoke to each other again, never remarried, and never revealed what had divided them forever.
A Fifty-Year Silence is the deeply involving account of Miranda Richmond Mouillots journey to find out what happened between her grandmother, a physician, and her grandfather, an interpreter at the Nuremberg Trials, who refused to utter his wifes name aloud after she left him. To discover the roots of their embittered and entrenched silence, Miranda abandons her plans for the future and moves to their stone house, now a crumbling ruin; immerses herself in letters, archival materials, and secondary sources; and teases stories out of her reticent, and declining, grandparents. As she reconstructs how Anna and Armand braved overwhelming odds and how the knowledge her grandfather acquired at Nuremberg destroyed their relationship, Miranda wrestles with the legacy of trauma, the burden of history, and the complexities of memory. She also finds herself learning how not only to survive but to thrive – making a home in the village and falling in love.
With warmth, humor, and rich, evocative details that bring her grandparents outsize characters and their daily struggles vividly to life, A Fifty-Year Silence is a heartbreaking, uplifting love story spanning two continents and three generations.
A Fifty-Year Silence
Look Inside Reading Guide. Reading Guide. Jan 20, Minutes Buy. Jan 19, ISBN Jan 20, ISBN
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A good book, stunning in it's revelation of the human tragedy. Miranda Richmond Mouillot's maternal grandparents haven't spoken to each other for fifty years.
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Thank you! As an adolescent, Mouillot had been close to her grandmother, but it was not until she was 14 that she visited her difficult grandfather alone in Switzerland for the first time. Through convoluted conversations with her mother and grandparents, the author began piecing together the puzzle of their traumatic daily lives. Her grandmother was a physician during the war, and her grandfather served as an interpreter at the Nuremberg trials. After they met, they married, had a baby and moved to a house in the countryside in southern France. Putting together the family story involved many discussions, delving into old family letters and archival research; the process took Mouillot more than 10 years. Before completing the family story, her grandfather lost his memory to dementia, but her grandmother was able to read an early version of the book.
Five years later, Anna packed her bags and walked out on Armand, taking the typewriter and their children. The two never saw or spoke to each other again. To discover the roots of this embittered and entrenched silence, Miranda abandons her plans for the future and moves to the old stone house, now a crumbling ruin, where she immerses herself in letters and archival materials, slowly teasing stories out of her reticent, and declining, grandparents. Along the way she finds herself learning how not only to survive, but to thrive—making a home in the village and falling in love. With warmth, humor, and rich, evocative detail, A Fifty-Year Silence is a heartbreaking, uplifting love story spanning two continents and three generations. Australian Women's Weekly. She works as an independent translator and editor.
The unspoken question that nettled me at night was not whether such a thing could happen but how many homes you could lose in a lifetime. A few years later the couple broke up, the reasons for which prove more nebulous than mysterious. They did not speak for 50 years, and Mouillot sets out to investigate why and how the marriage dissolved. Mouillot, who grew up in Asheville, N. Her mother had no idea when exactly her parents were married. Neither was she sure when they separated.