The Girl in the Blue Beret

( 44 )

Overview

Inspired by the wartime experiences of her father-in-law, Bobbie Ann Mason has crafted the haunting and profoundly moving story of an American World War II pilot shot down in Occupied Europe, and his wrenching odyssey of discovery, decades later, as he uncovers the truth about those who helped him escape in 1944.
 
At twenty-three, Marshall Stone was a confident, cocksure U.S. flyboy stationed in England, with several bombing raids in a ...

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Overview

Inspired by the wartime experiences of her father-in-law, Bobbie Ann Mason has crafted the haunting and profoundly moving story of an American World War II pilot shot down in Occupied Europe, and his wrenching odyssey of discovery, decades later, as he uncovers the truth about those who helped him escape in 1944.
 
At twenty-three, Marshall Stone was a confident, cocksure U.S. flyboy stationed in England, with several bombing raids in a B-17 under his belt. But when enemy fighters forced his plane to crash-land in a Belgian field during a mission to Germany, Marshall had to rely solely on the kindness of ordinary Belgian and French citizens to help him hide from and evade the Nazis. Decades later, restless and at the end of his career as an airline pilot, Marshall returns to the crash site and finds himself drawn back in time, unable to stop thinking about the people who risked their lives to save Allied pilots like him. Most of all, he is obsessed by the girl in the blue beret, a courageous young woman who protected and guided him in occupied Paris.
 
Framed in spellbinding, luminous prose, Marshall’s search for her gradually unfolds, becoming a voyage of discovery that reveals truths about himself and the people he knew during the war. Deeply beautiful and impossible to put down, The Girl in the Blue Beret is an unforgettable story—intimate, affecting, exquisite—of memories, second chances, and one intrepid girl who risked it all for a stranger. 
 
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Editorial Reviews

Daniel Swift
Mason has given us a portrait of a man from a generation whose members were uncertain about the protocols of letting oneself feel. And she has lovingly captured the tone of bluff assertion still shared by veterans of that war. Marshall's banality has the ring of truth; his awkwardness reveals much…The Girl in the Blue Beret is a work of remarkable empathy…
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
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)
From the Publisher
Praise for The Girl in the Blue Beret
 
"“The new novel from best-selling author Bobbie Ann Mason will send you dashing to the shelves to devour everything else she's ever written — it's that good. … Mason weaves a spellbinding tale of war, love and survival. … The Girl in the Blue Beret is not only a remarkable work of historical fiction, it's also storytelling at its best.” – Associated Press
 
“Ushering her readers back and forth across the decades, she perfectly weaves history with fiction.  In many ways the book is a tribute to these unsung civilians whose heroism often was never acknowledged by those they helped. [A] near-perfect war story.” – USA Today
“Mason has long been considered one of the finest writers of regional fiction — Kentucky is her home and inspiration — but her affecting new novel takes place in France, and she’s just as comfortable and insightful there…once again, Mason has plumbed the moral dimensions of national conflict in the lives of individual participants and produced a deeply moving, relevant novel.” –Washington Post
“Mason has given us a portrait of a man from a generation whose members were uncertain about the protocols of letting oneself feel. And she has lovingly captured the tone of bluff assertion still shared by veterans of that war. Marshall’s banality has the ring of truth; his awkwardness reveals much….The Girl in the Blue Beret is a work of remarkable empathy.” – New York Times Book Review
 
“To Curl Up with: A pilot shot down over France returns years later to search for the jeunne fille who rescued him.  Mason’s lovely tale, drawn from her [father-in-law’s] wartime experience, will resonate for many.” – Good Housekeeping
 
“The Girl in the Blue Beret is an impressive novel. Mason writes with confidence about integrity, memory, love, the war in Europe – and a likeable man. …Recommended for all historical fiction readers.” – Historical Novels Review
 
"[An] impressive, impassioned new novel. The unforgettable story, based on the author’s father-in-law’s wartime experiences, is a gripping tale of redemption." –Miami Herald
 
"A flight through the gripping, war-ravaged past and the discovery of love—Bobbie Ann Mason's moving novel is written with great clarity and insight."—Kim Edwards, author of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and The Lake of Dreams
 
“An elegant and eventually lovely story of war, need and apprehension.”—Roy Blount Jr., author of Alphabet Juice and Long Time Leaving
 
“Fascinating and intensely intimate….A touching novel about love, loss, war, and memory….profoundly revealing how the past haunts the present.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“An emotionally powerful story of the ruinous effects of war.”—Booklist
 
“[A] haunting novel... [with] rich setting, detail, and intimate character nuances….for fans of the award-winning author, World War II fiction, and novels with French settings. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal


Praise for Bobbie Ann Mason
 
“Bobbie Ann Mason is one of those rare writers who, by concentrating their attention on a few square miles of native turf, are able to open up new and surprisingly wide worlds for the delighted reader.”—The New York Review of Books, about Shiloh and Other Stories
 
“Brilliant and moving . . . a moral tale that entwines public history with private anguish.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review, about In Country
 
“A dramatic triumph . . . Synopsis cannot begin to do justice to the complexity, drama, and ultimate benevolence of Mason’s vision.”—Chicago Tribune, about Feather Crowns
 
“Sitting down with one of these stories may well be the next best thing to going home again.”—The Wall Street Journal, about Zigzagging Down a Wild Trail

Library Journal
It is 1980, and commercial airline pilot Marshall Stone, having just turned 60, has been forced into retirement. A widower with grown children, Marshall heads to France to retrace his World War II experiences there; as a flight engineer, he was shot down over Belgium. Now, Marshall wants to reconnect with the Resistance members involved in his rescue. He remembers a young woman, partial to a blue beret, and Robert, a brave freedom fighter. Finding them will be difficult, as code names and cryptic passwords were used to protect identities. Flashbacks of his days at the English airbase follow Marshall as he searches for his rescuers and the chance to come to terms with his place during a horrific time. Renowned American author Mason (In Country) based this haunting novel on her late father-in-law's wartime experiences, and the rich setting, detail, and intimate character nuances ring true. VERDICT Great crossover appeal for fans of the award-winning author, World War II fiction, and novels with French settings. Highly recommended.—Jenn B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll.-Northeast, TX
Kirkus Reviews

Mason (Nancy Culpepper, 2006, etc.) may surprise fans of her Appalachian stories with this historical novel about a World War II pilot who returns to France to find the families who helped him survive after his plane was shot down 36 years earlier.

In 1980, 60-year-old Marshall Stone is forced to retire as an airline pilot. His wife Loretta, whom he loved but largely took for granted, has died, and he is not close to his grown children. With an empty future looming, he decides to retrace the trail he took after he crash-landed his B-17 bomber in 1944. Marshall was co-pilot, but when the plane was hit on Marshall's 10th mission, he had to take over from the fatally wounded pilot and crash land in a field. Local farmers helped him before the Germans could reach him. A French farm family took him in and then passed him into the care of the resistance. Soon Marshall has reconnected with the Albert family—his oldest son named Albert in their honor—and the Alberts' son Nicolas, now a school principal, offers to help him in his search. Marshall sets himself up in an apartment in Paris—he has studied French—and begins to look for the Vallon family that hid him in Paris in 1944. He is particularly haunted by memories of the family's teenage daughter Annette and her charismatic friend Robert, a member of the Resistance who led Marshall to safety in Spain. Soon he meets Robert's illegitimate daughter, whose memories of her father are shockingly dark. Then Marshall finds Annette, now a lovely widow, and she fills in the missing pieces—she and Robert fell in love shortly before he and the Vallons were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. Robert never recovered from survivor guilt. Marshall and Annette become lovers before they set off to cross the Pyrenees, a trip full of bittersweet memories for Marshall.

Like Marshall himself, the novel maintains a reserved, laconic, even pedantic tone—off-putting at times yet often moving.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812978872
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/10/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 358,845
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 5.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Bobbie Ann Mason is the author of In Country, Shiloh and Other Stories, An Atomic Romance, Nancy Culpepper, and a memoir, Clear Springs. She is the winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, two Southern Book Awards, and numerous other prizes, including the O. Henry and the Pushcart. She was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the American Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. She is writer-in-residence at the University of Kentucky.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

9781400067183|excerpt

Mason: THE GIRL IN THE BLUE BERET

1.

As the long field came into view, marshall stone felt his breathing quicken, a rush of doves flying from his chest. The landscape was surprisingly familiar, its contours and borders fresh in his memory, even though he had been here only fleetingly thirty-six years ago. Lucien Lombard, who had brought him here today, knew the field intimately, for it had been in his family for generations.

“It was over there beside that tree, monsieur,” Lucien said, pointing toward the center of the field, where an awkward sycamore hovered over a patch of unruly vegetation.

“There was no tree then,” Marshall said.

“That is true.”

They walked through the furrowed field toward the tree, Lucien’s sturdy brown boots mushing the mud, Marshall following in borrowed Wellingtons. He was silent, his memory of the crash landing superimposed on the scene in front of him, as if there were a small movie projector in his mind. The Flying Fortress, the B-17, the heavy bomber the crew called the Dirty Lily, had been returning from a mission to Frankfurt.

“The airplane came down just there,” said Lucien as they neared the tree.

Lucien was elderly—probably in his eighties, Marshall thought—but he had a strong, erect physique, and he walked with a quick, determined step. His hair was thin, nearly white, his face smooth and firm.

“Normally a farmer would not permit a tree to thrive in his field,” he said. “But this tree marks the site.”

Unexpectedly, Marshall Stone began to cry. Embarrassed, he turned his face aside. He was a captain of transatlantic jumbo jets, a man who did not show weakness. He was alarmed by his emotion.

Lucien Lombard nodded. “I know, monsieur,” he said.

In Marshall’s mind, the crumpled B-17 lay before him in the center of the field. He recalled that the plane had been lined up with the neatly plowed furrows.

The deep, rumbling sound of a vast formation of B-17s roared through Marshall’s memory now. The steady, violent, rocking flight toward target. The sight of Focke-Wulf 190s—angry hornets darting crazily. The black bursts of flak floating like tumbleweeds strewn on a western highway. The fuselage flak-peppered. Slipping down into the cloud deck, flying for more than an hour unprotected. Over Belgium, hit again. The nose cone shattering. The pilot panicking.

Marshall, the co-pilot, took the controls and brought the Dirty Lily down. A belly landing on this foreign soil. There was no time to jettison the ball turret. Only as they were coming down did Marshall see that Lawrence Webb, the pilot, was unconscious. The Fort grazed the top of a tall hedgerow and slid in with a jolt, grinding to a hard stop. The crew scrambled out. Marshall and the flight engineer wrestled Webb’s slack body from the plane. The navigator’s face was torn, bloodied. The fuselage was burning. Machine-gun rounds were exploding at the gun stations. Marshall didn’t see the tail gunner anywhere. The left waist gunner lay on the ground, motionless.

Marshall had been just twenty-three years old then. Now he was nearly sixty, and he had come to see this place again at last. He was crying for the kids in the B-17, the youngsters who had staked their lives on their Flying Fortress. He hadn’t known he had pent up such a reservoir of emotion, even though he probably thought about the downing of the B-17 every day. He willed his tears to stop.

Lucien Lombard had seen the plane come down near the village, and he rushed to help the crew, but Marshall didn’t remember him.

Now Lucien said, “It is like yesterday.”

Marshall toed a weed-topped clod of dirt. “The worst day of my life,” he said. “Some bad memories.”

“Never mind, monsieur. It had its part.”

Several people were crossing the field, headed toward them. They had arrived in a gray van with the name of a hardware store on the side.

“Everyone from the village has heard of your visit,” said Lucien. “You are a hero.”

“Non. I did very little.” Marshall was ashamed.

Lucien introduced him to the group. They were all smiling at him and speaking rapidly. When Marshall could not follow some of their thickly accented French, Lucien explained that everyone there remembered the crash. Three families had sheltered members of the crew, and Dr. Bequet had treated the wounded.

“I’m very grateful,” Marshall said, shaking the doctor’s hand.

“It was necessary to help.”

More introductions and small talk followed. Marshall noticed two men scanning the ground. Lucien explained that people still found pieces of metal there—bullet casings, rivets, and once even a warped propeller blade. Marshall thought of how he had torn up the field when he came zigzagging down that day.

A man in a cloth cap and wool scarf stepped forward and touched Marshall’s arm.

“Oui, it is sad, monsieur,” the man said. He regarded Marshall in a kindly way and smiled. His face was leathery but younger than Marshall’s. He seemed familiar.

“You were the boy who helped me!” Marshall said, astonished.

“Oui. C’est moi.”

“You offered me a cigarette.”

The man laughed. His taut, weathered cheeks seemed to blush. “Bien sûr. I would never forget that day. The cigarettes I had obtained for my father.”

“That was my very first Gauloises,” Marshall said.

“You were my first Américain,” the man said, smiling. “I am Henri Lechat.”

They shook hands, the younger man first removing his glove.

“You warned me that the Germans were coming,” Marshall said.

Henri nodded. “It is true. You had no French then, and I had no English.”

“But I knew. We communicated somehow.”

Marshall’s voice broke on the word communicated.

“We will never forget, monsieur.”

“You told me to run,” Marshall said, recalling how he had stowed the cigarette in the inner pocket of his leather jacket. Now he felt his tears well up again.

Henri tugged on his scarf. “I told you to hide in the woods, and you comprehended.”

Recalling the boy’s urgency, Marshall tried to laugh. Henri had raced up, calling a warning. Pointing back the way he had come, he cried, “Les Allemands! Les Allemands!” Then, pointing to the woods in the other direction, he shouted, “Allez-y!” Marshall did not see any Germans, and he would not leave until all the crew was out. The bombardier was wounded in the shoulder, and the navigator had a shattered leg. The tail gunner appeared; he had hopped out easily. The left waist gunner was unconscious and had to be pulled from the fuselage window. Marshall was relieved to see the ball-turret gunner, who was limping toward the church with a man carrying a shovel. Someone said the right waist gunner had parachuted. The pilot was lying on the frozen ground, his eyes closed. Fire was leaping from the plane.

Marshall knelt by Webb, trying to wake him. Nothing. Someone squatted beside Marshall and opened Webb’s jacket.

“Docteur,” the woman said, pointing toward the village. She pointed in the opposite direction, toward the woods, and said, “Go.”

Marshall stood. The flight engineer appeared at his side. “Let’s go,” he said. “Everybody’s out.”

Several of the villagers were making urgent gestures toward the road. German troops would be here in moments. Marshall knew that they converged on every fallen plane, to arrest the Allied aviators and to salvage the wrecked metal for their own planes. The German fighter that had downed them was circling low overhead. Marshall began running toward the woods.

Had the Germans shot anyone from the village for helping the American flyers? Marshall wondered now, but he did not want to ask. He had tried to be sure all the crew were out, and then he left the scene. In the years after, he didn’t probe into the aftermath. He lived another life.

“We were so thankful to you, monsieur,” one of the men was saying. “When your planes flew over we knew we would be liberated one day.”

Marshall nodded.

A stocky woman with gray, thick hair and a genial, wrinkled face said, “The airplanes flying toward Germany in those days—there were hundreds of them. We rejoiced to see them crossing the sky.”

Henri kicked dirt from his leather boot. “I didn’t know at that age everything that was understood by the adults. But I knew the deprivation, the difficulties, the secrecy. Even the children knew the crisis.”

Cautiously, Marshall asked, “Did the Germans arrest anybody for helping us?”

“Oh, non, monsieur.” Henri paused. “Not that day.”

Lucien Lombard clasped Henri’s shoulder and said, “The father of this one was killed—shot on his bicycle, on his way home after convoying one of your aviateurs across the border to France.”

Henri said, “I had to grow up quickly. I had the responsibilities then for my mother and my sisters.”

Lucien said, “His family hid that aviateur in their barn for a time.”

Marshall recoiled. He could see the waist gunner lying motionless across the furrows. He saw himself running into the woods. He saw the boy’s face. The plane was on fire.

Marshall had decided to return to this place finally, knowing it was time to confront his past failure. He had expected to be alone in the field, and he had not thought anyone would remember. The news of the death of the boy’s father jolted him. He had never heard about that. In all these years, he had thought little about the people who had come running to the downed airplane. He had felt such a profound defeat in the war that he had not wanted to return here. During the war, more than anything, he had wanted to be heroic. But he was no hero. He had felt nothing but bitter disappointment that he didn’t get to complete his bombing missions against Nazi Germany. And what happened later, as he skulked through France, was best forgotten, he had thought.

Marshall was a widower. His wife, Loretta, had died suddenly two years before, and the loss still seemed unbelievable, but now he began to feel his grief lift, like the morning fog disappearing above a waiting airport.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Interviews & Essays

On The Girl in the Blue Beret
By Bobbie Ann Mason

My father-in-law was a pilot. During World War II, he was shot down in a B-17 over Belgium. With the help of the French Resistance, he made his way through Occupied France and back to his base in England. Ordinary citizens hid him in their homes, fed him, disguised him, sheltered him from the Germans. Many families willingly hid Allied aviators, knowing the risks—they would have been shot or sent to a concentration camp if they were discovered by the Germans.

In 1987 the town in Belgium honored the crew by erecting a memorial at the crash site, where one of the ten crew members died. The surviving crew were invited for three days of festivities, including a flyover by the Belgian Air Force. Over three thousand Allied airmen were rescued during the war, and an extraordinary, deep bond between them and their European helpers endures even now.

My father-in-law, Barney Rawlings, spent a couple of months hiding out in France in 1944, frantically memorizing a few French words to pass himself off as a Frenchman, but his ordeal had not inspired in me any fiction until I started taking a French class. Suddenly, the language was transporting me back in time and across the ocean, as I tried to imagine a tall, out-of-place American struggling to say Bonjour. Barney had a vague memory of a girl who had escorted him in Paris in 1944. He remembered that her signal was something blue--a scarf, maybe, or a beret. The notion of a girl in a blue beret seized me, and I was off.

I had my title, but I didn't know what my story would be. I had to go to France to imagine the country in wartime. What would I have done in such circumstances of fear, deprivation, and uncertainty? What if my pilot character returns decades later to search for the people who had helped him escape?

Writing a novel about World War II and the French Resistance was a challenge, both sobering and thrilling. I read many riveting escape-and-evasion accounts of airmen and the Resistance networks organized to hide them and then send them on grueling treks across the Pyrenees to safety. But it was the people I met in France and Belgium who made the period come alive for me. They had lived it.

In Belgium, I was entertained lavishly by the people who had honored the B-17 crew with the memorial, including some locals who had witnessed the crash-landing. I was overwhelmed by their generosity. They welcomed me with an extravagant three-cheek kiss, but one 90-year-old man, Fernand Fontesse, who had been in the Resistance and had been a POW, planted his kiss squarely on my lips.

In a small town north of Paris I met Jean Hallade. He had been only fifteen when 2nd Lt. Rawlings was hidden in a nearby house. Jean took a picture of Barney in a French beret, a photo to be used for the fake ID card he would need as he traveled through France disguised as a French cabinetmaker over the next few months.

And in Paris I became friends with lovely, indomitable Michèle Agniel, who had been a girl guide in the Resistance. Her family aided fifty Allied aviators, including Barney Rawlings. She takes her scrapbooks from the war years to the schools to show children what once happened. "This happened here," she says. "Here is a ration card. This is a swastika." She pauses. "Never again," she says.

The characters in The Girl in the Blue Beret are not portraits of actual people, but the situations were inspired by very real individuals whom I regard as heroes.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Discuss the special bond between  Allied aviators and their European helpers. Why did it take so long for many of them to re- unite after the war?
 
2.  What   does  flying  mean  to  Marshall?  Discuss  Marshall’s failed B-17 mission and the effect it had on his life.
 
3.  Re-read  and  discuss the  images  of flight  throughout the novel. How does the final sentence tie in with these?
 
4.  What  is Marshall’s feeling about the young man he remem- bers as Robert?  Does  Marshall  romanticize  him? Why  is finding Robert  so important to Marshall?
 
5. Love and war. There are two main love stories in this novel—the younger couple, Annette and Robert, and the mature couple, Annette and Marshall. How are these relationships  differ- ent from each other? What  does war do to love and romance?
 
6.  Why is Marshall so unprepared for what Annette reveals to him? How does he deal with her story? What possibilities lie ahead for him?

7.  The name Annette Vallon is inspired by a historical figure, a woman who was William Wordsworth’s lover during the French Revolution  and the mother  of his illegitimate  child. What  sugges- tions are being made by the use of the name here? What  else can you learn about Annette Vallon from further  research?
 
8.  What  do  you make of the  epigraph  by William  Words- worth?  Is it  appropriate?  How  does  it  connect  with  the  use of Annette Vallon’s name?
 
9.  What  do mountains  mean to Marshall?  Trace the  impor- tance of mountains  at different stages of his life.
 
10.  How does Marshall look back on his war experience? How does his perspective change during the course of the novel?
 
11.  How  do the  experiences  in the  book  compare  with  your own experiences of war? Have you ever known anyone captured during wartime?
 
12.  What  is meant  by second  chances  in the  context  of this book?
 
13.  How  do you interpret the  ending?  Review the  emotional developments that lead up to the last lines, especially Marshall’s thinking as he falls to sleep the night before. Based on your under- standing of the characters and their situation, what do you imagine they are likely to do next? How  does the aviation term,  “gaining altitude,” apply here?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(15)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 19, 2011

    Would have been 5 stars, but...

    This is a wonderful story that is captivating, in part due to its historical aspect. The switching between present time and World War II worked very well; often I find it distracting. The story itself, both past and present storylines, are fascinating. The only reason that I did not give the book 5 stars was the ending. Others have mentioned this as well and I agree. At the last chapter I turned the page expecting another chapter, and NOTHING! I even turned back the page, thinking perhaps I skipped a page. After such a captivating story, it left the reader unsatisfied and feeling like the story was unfinished. I am surprised that the editors let this story end this way!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 26, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    "The Girl in the Blue Beret" is a delightful book. The characters are fully developed and sympathetic, and the complex plot moves forward rapidly. Mason's books are not something to read in an afternoon, and "Blue Beret" is no exception. The protagonist faces the sense of loss any person feels when faced with unwanted mandatory retirement; the overnight transition from an all-consuming career to forced idelness is devastation. Mason's book looks at one veteran of World War II and examines his struggle to cope. While the focus is on one man from a comparatively long ago time, the issues are relevent to many in current society who no longer have a job, and who long for happier times in the past.

    Like many books that take a realist view toward life, the book is not tied up in a neat little bow at the end, but it does leave the reader with the feeling that life is getting better. I found it hard to put the book down; I have already highly recommended it to several friends.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2012

    It's OK.

    The story content started out interesting but the end was dragged out too long,it became repetitious and pointless.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 29, 2011

    Good read, great story

    This is a highly readable book based on (but fiction) the author's father-in-law's experience after being shot down in a B-17 bomber in WWII. The book traces a pilot's emotional turmoil when, 35 years after the fact, he finally meets many of those from the French resistance who rescued him and eventually helped him escape from the country, and learns all was not as it seemed to him at his superficial level. THough I thought the ending was weak, I highly recommend this novel. A nice insight to one facet of WW II not often written about.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 7, 2011

    Poor ending

    I loved the story and the characters. The possibility of a blooming romance was hinted. However, I hate it when the aurhor just appeares to run out of story and ends the book before it should have been. And don't give me poetic license junk, I like a story to have some kind of a conclusion and ths one did not!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2011

    Really good

    This is a touching story with adventure and heart. I expected a book to last me a few weeks of casual reading and ended up pounding through over the weekend. THUMBS UP!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2012

    Intriguing Family History

    The Girl in the Blue Beret written by Bobbie Ann Mason is a very well written, wonderful story. Bobbie Ann Mason took experiences from her late father-in-law from his time as an American World War II pilot shot down and his trek to escape Occupied Europe. The Girl in the Blue Beret is an intriguing use of family history that tales the role people of the French Resistance Movement played during the war. Of their triumphs and heartbreak, of the joys they felt and the horrors they faced by the Nazi. In reading The Girl in the Blue Beret I was taken back by the risks people of the French Resistance Movement took to help our boys return to allied territory. Some of the things shared through Bobbie Ann Mason's father-in-law that happened during World War II are things one can only learn from being there or finding someone willing to share their story. The Girl in the Blue Beret starts with Marshall Stone returning to his crash site decades after the war, he is intent upon finding those who helped him escape. They all made an impression on him with their kindness, care and concern, but the one who he remembers the strongest he only remembers as, 'The girl in the blue beret'. Finding people of French Resistance Movement is not an easy task, but those he finds are willing to listen to his story and share their own. 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. I give credit to Bobbie Ann Mason for taking her father-in-law's experiences and creating such an intriguing story. I feel she has done justice to him and all involved.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2011

    Recommended

    I enjoyed this book even though it was slow going in parts. The best part of the book was when the pilot met up again with the girl in the blue beret. Now she is 50. Her story was very interesting and I must say I was disappointed in the ending. I felt like it left the story kind of flat. Still all in all very good historical read.

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    Posted October 25, 2011

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