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Amandine: A Novel
     

Amandine: A Novel

3.7 9
by Marlena de Blasi
 

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Marlena de Blasi, the acclaimed author of such delectable memoirs as A Thousand Days in Venice and That Summer in Sicily, now brings her luminous prose to the world of fiction with this remarkable debut novel. Set against the backdrop of Europe as it moves inexorably toward World War II, Amandine follows a young orphan’s journey in search of her

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Amandine 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1931 in Krakow, Poland, an unmarried aristocrat gives birth to a female. To protect her foolish unwed daughter, her mother the Countess lies by telling the new mom that the baby died. The grandmother sends her newborn illegitimate granddaughter to a convent in Montpellier, France run by Abbess Mother Paul and raised by a governess Solange Jouffroi, who names the infant Amandine Gilberte Noiret de Crécy. Mother Paul detests Amandine while the other sisters are wary of her; only Solange loves her ward. Over the years Amandine wonders why her mom and grandma abandoned her and why the abbess overtly displays her loathing. When scarlet fever ravages the convent, Solange takes Amandine with her to stay with her family as the Nazis blitzkrieg of France turns the two day journey by train into a dangerous odyssey. This is a wonderful historical tale with a nod to Maslow's Hierarchy; as once the basic biological needs are met, Amandine seeks self actualization by wondering where she belongs. Except for Solange whom she loves as her mom, she fears something is wrong with her for so many to abandon her or loathe her. That sense of identity lost before it is even set make for a strong thriller further anchored in time and place during an era of Nazi atrocities as war engulfs Europe. Harriet Klausner
elfBP More than 1 year ago
The combination of history and story was interesting to me. Well worth the read.
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enylCS More than 1 year ago
In the fall of 1916, Count Antoni Czaritoski shoots his mistress, the Baroness Urszula Droutzky, and then shoots himself. Fortuitously Andzelika, the Count's daughter and Pitor, the late Baroness' brother meet in 1920 and produce a little girl. When the Countess Valeska Czaritoski learns Pitor's true lineage she attempts to convince Andzelika to end the pregnancy. Unable to convince Andzelika the Countess arranges a guardian for the child and fakes the child's death. Likewise, the Countess purchases a new identity and board for both the baby and her guardian Solange at the St.Hilare covenant far away from her native Krakow. With his suicide, the Count unwittingly condemns his granddaughter's future to a life of solitude, cut off from her mother, her title, her heritage, and her inheritance. Amandine is a delicate depiction of the tragedy of war. It quietly celebrates the courage and honor of the underground soldiers of the French Resistance during WWII. In many ways, Amandine is a love story about a mother's love. In Mater Paul, Amandine presents the psychological manifestations of the loss and bitterness that a child develops when in the custody of an unaffectionate parent who, although present physically, has emotionally abandoned the child. Rendering the grown up child bitter and unable to nurture and love a child. Jossett personifies the self-appointed mother protector of the abused child, Annick, who grows up to become the obstinate, cold, bitter, and vengeful Mater Paul head nun of the St.Hilare convent. Solange exemplifies maternal love that is generous, kind, loyal, and caring as she accepts and carries out her duties as a guardian, while she herself is still a child. We follow Amandine's story as she longs to be reunited with her mother and our emotions are roused as we readers also yearn for justice for Amandine. Amandine's, Solange's, and Annick's plight will evoke compassion and empathy from the reader. Andzelika and Jossett earn the reader's pity. For the Countess Valeska the reader simply feels outrage at her duplicity and betrayal. Amandine is an emotional and informative work of historical fiction. The author provides the reader with an informal education on the realities of life during the war from the perspective of members of the Resistance. Readers may be inspired to learn more about the Resistance movement. Amandine will definitely find a home on the shelves of my classroom library.
martinchicago More than 1 year ago
The previous review detailed the plot very nicely. The story tells of the young life of an out-of-wedlock baby placed by a controlling grandmother in the care of a convent. The baby, ostensibly completely abandoned at birth, is nevertheless extremely well provided for in both financial security and loving attention from a caring "governess." Amandine's upbringing involves a second abandonment as Mother Superior first isolates, and then ostracizes the young girl but this blow is balanced by loving attention from both the governess Solange and an elderly chaplain to the nuns. Amandine gradually comprehends life's conflicting currents as she slowly matures first believing she is the cause of her predicament and later slowly coming to realize her own worth. Meanwhile, the controlling grandmother who secretly abandoned her daughter's offspring can never quite erase her guilt. She is extremely self-indulgent in excusing her haughty character but always remains acutely aware of her major failing. Mother Superior, on the other hand, is likewise self-righteous but cannot come to feel guilt. The Bishop who rose through the clerical ranks on his affability, generally achieves a basic decency and feels some regret for his weakness in using other but stands as a symbol of the Church's care of its own rather than adequately shepherding its flock. During her harrowing flight through the Nazi war zone in France, Amandine becomes aware of many war-time sorrows experienced by others but leavened by courageous people who take her in. Throughout this time she continues to mature slowly trying to comprehend not loneliness but aloneness. Saying too much more would impinge on the reader's journey of understanding. The novel moves easily from story line to beautifully phrased dialogue to character development to beautifully written descriptions of seasons and countryside that give a wonderfully pervasive sense of place to the story. In simple language and an economy of words Ms. De Blasi weaves intricate tapestries as she tells her story. Amandine leaves me hoping for a sequel of the girl blossoming into woman.