The Sins of the Innocents

Overview


In her first memoir—Immortelles: Memoir of a Will-o’-the-Wisp—Mireille Marokvia described her life growing up in a small village near Chartres, France, in the first decades of the 20th Century. We learned in that beautiful book that the people in her life so long past still live like ghosts in her memory.

This extraordinarily sensitive and assured writer brings that same dear voice and sharp vision to bear in her new book. But Sins of the ...

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Sins of the Innocent

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Overview


In her first memoir—Immortelles: Memoir of a Will-o’-the-Wisp—Mireille Marokvia described her life growing up in a small village near Chartres, France, in the first decades of the 20th Century. We learned in that beautiful book that the people in her life so long past still live like ghosts in her memory.

This extraordinarily sensitive and assured writer brings that same dear voice and sharp vision to bear in her new book. But Sins of the Innocent covers the most difficult years of her life.

From Paris in 1939, a young Mireille follows her artist husband, Abel, when he returns to Germany to care for his mother. Once Hitler begins his invasions across Europe the displaced couple must find a way to survive the war in a country they both consider foreign. Abel finally takes work, but it requires extensive travel through the war zones, and so Mireille is left essentially alone. With France lost to her, and horribly misfit in wartime Germany, suspected by her neighbors of spying for the Allies, Mireille has to define a life for herself, a life that is as quiet as possible in a dangerous world.

Sins of the Innocent is a lyrical portrait of those harsh years, infused with doubt, anger, and the author’s love of life. These were the years in which Mireille learned the difference between quiet persistence and courage—during WWII in Europe, a time when so many had to find their own small places in history. It was the era that determined who Mireille Marokvia was—and who she still is.

Read Mireille Marokvia’s account of the making of the manuscript in “History of a Story.”

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Mireille, left alone and watched as a possible French spy in Germany, drew on a well of strength to live a quiet, determined life and survive the war. Passionate, straightforward, and enthralling, this new memoir offers a glimpse of the seldom-seen life of a French citizen in Germany during World War II…. Highly recommended …”—Library Journal

“What do you think you’ll be doing when you’re 97? Mireille Marokvia… has used that year of her life to publish a beautiful, surprising book about her years as a young French woman, mostly alone, in Germany throughout World War II.…One of the joys of this memoir is that while the danger mounts, Marokvia writes about domestic life, adding details that we would never learn from war movies or the memoirs of generals…. The author provides a picture of what it was like to be trapped in a war that [we] would never have imagined. I hope teachers of history and literature will find this book and teach it, besides enjoying it themselves.” –The Durango Herald

“In the midst of World War II, Mireille Marokvia was a young French bride, trapped with her artist husband in Nazi Germany. While her parents and other relatives and friends fought with the French resistance, Mireille found her own ways to cope and her own artistic ways to rebel. In a German weaving school, she quietly wove a garment inspired by the French flag. After she was expelled from the group, a sympathetic friend found her an isolated post in northern Germany, where she befriended a young Jewish woman who was hiding her identity. Marokvia has reconstructed the tales of those dangerous days in an engrossing memoir…When her anti-Nazi husband went to visit his widowed mother in Germany, the two were not allowed to leave the county. Even when she had a Gestapo officer’s family as housemates, she managed to continue her quietly subversive activities until the final days of World War II, when she was arrested and interrogated by German authorities.”—Las Cruces Sun-News

“These childhood memories of rural France in the early decades of this century insidiously take over the reader’s imagination, making palpable the presence of a vanished world…. The book dexterously blends public and private, recalling how the First World War affected the daily life of a small girl in a small town.”—The New Yorker

“Reading Immortelles is like finding an old trunk of your grandmother’s filled with old pictures, letters, and journals depicting bright scraps of lives seen only as grainy black-and-whites in a dusty attic on a rain-blurred afternoon…. a magical story of childhood…. World War I is honestly touched on…the war is noticed purely as part of the fabric of village life—and for its impact on Marokvia… Incredulous at first to be inside the expertly portrayed life of one who actually lived during this period, the reader is soon caught up in a world… real and full…”—The Bloomsbury Review

“An elegant evocation of the poetry and pain of childhood…. the rhythm of rural life, the pleasures of a village parade, the excitement of a train trip, and more seriously, the ravages of a bloody war on this life. An unusual book that rewards the reader with its lyric prose and quiet grace.”—Kirkus Reviews

William Grimes
For the duration of the war, the couple, who married in a Nazi civil ceremony, lived an existence that lurched wildly between the absurd and the horrific. Mireille Journet, now Marokvia and in her late 90’s, captures it movingly in her precise, beautifully written memoir, a strange tale of two bohemians caught up in a totalitarian nightmare.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
A politically na ve French country girl when she entered the Sorbonne in 1928, Marokvia (Immortelles: Memoir of a Will-o'-the-Wisp), who today is almost 98 years old, soon fell in love with art student Abel; the two enjoyed the Parisian bohemian scene of the 1930s, without worrying much about world events. Even when Hitler took Austria in 1938, no one seemed too shocked-it "was as if we had begun to think he had the right to do what he was doing." Alas, Abel was German and by 1939, he decided to return to Stuttgart. Marokvia followed and the two married, each verifying that they came from four generations of Jew-free ancestry. While both hated the Nazis and refused to collaborate actively, neither felt able to do anything against the regime. Abel avoided the military by working for a propaganda ministry, traveling throughout the Reich sketching for various government publications, while Marokvia variously worked as a weaver, translator and subsistence farmer. They considered themselves innocent of Nazi atrocities, yet sullied by the passive sin of complicity. At times they contemplated suicide or murdering Hitler, but then went on with finding housing, food and work, like other citizens. Readers of last year's A Woman in Berlin will find the similarities (constant suspicion of neighbors, ignorance about Jews) and contrasts (Marokvia reports no rapes or prostitution) illuminating. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This is Marokvia's second memoir, following Immortelles: Memoir of a Will-o'-the-Wisp), which focused largely on her French childhood (she was born in 1908). Here she moves ahead to her 1939 marriage in Germany to a German artist and photographer named Abel. After they were married in a civil ceremony, it was particularly jarring for her when the clerk gave her not the traditional Bible but Mein Kampf. When Germany invaded France, the couple's citizenship status became ambiguous. Abel was forced to work as a photographer for the German army or face imprisonment. Marokvia, left alone and watched as a possible French spy in Germany, drew on a well of strength to live a quiet, determined life and survive the war. Passionate, straightforward, and enthralling, this new memoir offers a glimpse of the seldom-seen life of a French citizen in Germany during World War II. Now in her late nineties, Marokvia is working on the final installment of a trilogy, which will pick up with the couple's postwar move to America. Highly recommended for larger collections and those specializing in World War II.-Jamie Engle, Richardson, TX Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932961256
  • Publisher: Unbridled Books
  • Publication date: 9/7/2010
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

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