The Distance from Normandy

The Distance from Normandy

5.0 7
by Jonathan Hull
     
 

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Mead parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and fought his way to Germany, through some of the most brutal violence of World War II. But his most difficult battle was lost years later, when his beloved wife Sophie succumbed to cancer. Since then, he has waged a private war against both loneliness and the terrible memory of a day in 1945 that went horribly wrong-and has

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Overview

Mead parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and fought his way to Germany, through some of the most brutal violence of World War II. But his most difficult battle was lost years later, when his beloved wife Sophie succumbed to cancer. Since then, he has waged a private war against both loneliness and the terrible memory of a day in 1945 that went horribly wrong-and has haunted him ever since.

His grandson Andrew, a scared and angry high school sophomore, has been expelled and is heading down a path of self-destruction. Mead agrees to take the boy in for three weeks, to set him right. At first, the two circle warily around each other, finding little in common. Then Andrew befriends a widow named Evelyn, and Mead busies himself fending off the match, even as he feels a reluctant attraction to this cheerful woman who seems to understand his grandson.

One afternoon, rummaging through the garage, Andrew discovers an antique Luger, the deadly memento of his grandfather's war. In a final effort to save his grandson from himself, Mead takes the teenager on a journey to the beaches, bunkers, and cemeteries of Normandy, where both of them confront the secrets they have been trying to forget.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A cranky grandfather, a troubled teen, memories of World War II and a trip to the beaches of Normandy-in less talented hands, you'd have the mawkish recipe for a bad movie of the week, but Hull's smooth writing transforms this familiar material into a fast-moving, likable tale. Hull covers some of the same territory-the vicissitudes of old age, the bittersweet ache of memory and the horrors of war-as he did in his first novel, Losing Julia, but this time the focus is on the recently widowed Mead and his relationship with his grandson, 16-year-old Andrew. Andrew has just been kicked out of school for brandishing a penknife. His best friend, Matt, has killed himself and Andrew is thinking of doing the same. Mead suggests to his single-parent daughter, Sharon, that Andrew fly from Chicago to visit him in California for a three-week stay. Mead has little sympathy for teenage boys in general and not much more for his bleached-blond, earring-wearing, pants-dragging grandson. But both Mead and Andrew are intelligent and caring, and with the help of the attractive widow across the street, the two settle into a prickly rapprochement. After Andrew gets into more trouble, Mead decides the only way to save him is to take the boy on a tour of the WWII battlefields where he fought when he was a young man. Surely Andrew will then appreciate the advantages he should be enjoying and will straighten himself out. None of this works quite as Mead thinks it will, but secrets are revealed and truths both harsh and pleasant learned. Everyone, the reader included, is left with a newfound sense of hope and understanding. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312314132
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
12/03/2004
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Hull is the author of Losing Julia, a Booksense 76 Selection and bestseller, a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller, and a Denver Rocky Mountain News bestseller. An award-winning journalist, he spent several years as Time magazine's Chicago and Jerusalem bureau chief before turning to writing fiction. The father of two children, he lives in Marin County, California with his wife Judy.

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The Distance from Normandy 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I AM A DAUGHTER OF A WORLD WARII VET. I CRIED AND LAUGHED ALL THE WAY THRU THIS BOOK. I WOULD RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO EVERYONE. MY DAD WAS ALSO IN NORMANDY DURING THE WAR.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In ¿The Distance From Normandy¿ Jonathan Hull explores the emotional separation between generations, between a grandfather and his grandson, between the past and the future. Mead is a veteran of WWII, recently widowed, who lives alone in his Southern California home. His daughter, a single parent, lives in the Midwest with her son, Andrew, who has recently been expelled from school for violent behavior. Mead suggests to his daughter that he take in his grandson for a few weeks, talk to him and straighten him out. So what happens when you take a self- destructive teenager and his war-scarred grandfather and put them together under the same roof for three weeks? Not what I expected. Hull skillfully explores this relationship, this painful journey, with compassion and understanding, and without trivializing the emotion or overstating the obvious. Ultimately, this is a story of two men seeking their own unique redemption. How they find it together is the very special gift of this book. It¿s a great read. I highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿The Distance From Normandy¿ is a terrific book. Jonathan Hull has done an exceptional job of taking the reader into the minds of his characters, a grandfather and his grandson, and exploring the emotional distance between the generations. Mead is a veteran of WWII, recently widowed, who lives alone in his Southern Califronia home. He takes in his grandson, Andrew, after the boy has been expelled from school for violent behavior. Mead suggests to his daughter, Sharon, a single parent, that he take the boy and straighten him out. When these two troubled souls meet, the story begins. Hull never plays into the obvious here, never quite gives you what you expect you¿re about to get. He explores this complex relationship, this wide generational divide, without trivializing the emotion, without overstating the obvious. Ultimately this is a story of two men seeking their own unique redemption. How they find it together is the special gift of this book. A great read. I highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hull demonstrates an amazing ability to capture life from the perspective of two very different generations and his mastery of detail and wry insights carry the book. If it sounds like serious stuff, it is, but the relationship between the grandfather and grandson and their conflicting world views made me laugh out loud many times. Hull's book is a tribute to two very different generations and a great read for those of us in the middle.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was totally taken by this book and its characters - they became more alive the deeper into the book I went. They are funny, sad and insightful. I cried and laughed - sometimes within a page of one another - I have not been this moved or stirred by a book for years or at least since Mr. Hull's last novel, Losing Julia. I highly recommend this great book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jonathan Hull's new novel explores the distance between generations - the generation of a grandfather forced to grow up much too soon through his participation in WWII - and the generation of his confused grandson, a decent young man also touched by tragedy. Each character would prefer to remain a loner, to cope with their respective individual losses by shutting out family and friends. Circumstance draws them together for a few weeks, however - a time when each man slowly learns to respect the other and where both come to realize that character is not totally defined by a person's generation. Hull's significant writing talent is on full display throughout the various moods of the story. He captures the personalities of the grandfather and the grandson perfectly - deftly using humor, pathos, and colorful dialog to establish depth of character and noteworthy nuance. Hull's description of WWII combat is superb. The story of the grandfather's WWII experiences lend much to the reader's understanding of both characters - the older man because he experienced such horrors and can never forget - the younger man because he has never experienced such horrors, yet can see at least some of the residue left behind in his grandfather. I most appreciated the author's description and obvious appreciation of the teenager of today - confused at times, like their grandparents were when they were young - but just as capable and loving as their grandparents¿ generation. The novel never takes the obvious road concerning the teen - his character is fully realized.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is such a wonderful story. All the characters are great. The teenager is perfectly captured as well as the struggles of his grandfather. The books twists and story kept me riveted. I laughed and cried. You will love the story and as such will recommend the book to all your friends.