Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Julie's Review: The Girl in the Blue Beret

The Girl in the Blue Beret: A Novel Summary: Inspired by the wartime experiences of her late father-in-law, award-winning author Bobbie Ann Mason has written an unforgettable novel about an American World War II pilot shot down in Occupied Europe. When Marshall Stone returns to his crash site decades later, he finds himself drawn back in time to the brave people who helped him escape from the Nazis. He especially recalls one intrepid girl guide who risked her life to help him—the girl in the blue beret. At twenty-three, Marshall Stone was a U.S. flyboy stationed in England. Headstrong and cocksure, he had nine exhilarating bombing raids under his belt when enemy fighters forced his B-17 to crash-land in a Belgian field near the border of France. The memories of what happened next—the frantic moments right after the fiery crash, the guilt of leaving his wounded crewmates and fleeing into the woods to escape German troops, the terror of being alone in a foreign country—all come rushing back when Marshall sets foot on that Belgian field again. Marshall was saved only by the kindness of ordinary citizens who, as part of the Resistance, moved downed Allied airmen through clandestine, often outrageous routes (over the Pyrenees to Spain) to get them back to their bases in England. Even though Marshall shared a close bond with several of the Resistance members who risked their lives for him, after the war he did not look back. But now he wants to find them again—to thank them and renew their ties. Most of all, Marshall wants to find the courageous woman who guided him through Paris. She was a mere teenager at the time, one link in the underground line to freedom. Marshall’s search becomes a wrenching odyssey of discovery that threatens to break his heart—and also sets him on a new course for the rest of his life. In his journey, he finds astonishing revelations about the people he knew during the war—none more electrifying and inspiring than the story of the girl in the blue beret. Intimate and haunting, 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. ~randomhouse.com

Review: I really wanted to love The Girl in the Blue Beret, but I liked it. World War II is an interesting subject especially when told from the point of view of the American soldier/pilot. Perhaps what I didn't like was the main character, Marshall. It wasn't that he was stuck in the past, far from it, but I found his attitude towards life to be so non-chalant. Frankly, that surprised me since he was gunned down in a B-17 during the war and escaped capture due to the French Resistance. I would have thought he would have more of a zest for life.

We meet Marshall as he's about to retire from being a pilot for a major airline. Not only is this event momentous enough, but his wife recently passed away. To say that he's going through major life changes is a bit cliche. He decides that after retirement he is going to go back to where is plane came down and search for the people who helped him escape the Germans.

It is this part of the book that I found intriguing and interesting. How did all these people smuggle Americans to safety? How did it change the lives of those involved in the Resistance? Marshall easily finds one of the families that helped him and their son Nicholas helps him research where some of the others have gone.

He is in for a shock when people he had built up in his head didn't turn out to be as "good"of people in their lives after the war. I think that Marshall wanted the people who were so heroic in his young life to remain that way and sometimes life isn't what we think it will be.

I can't believe the sacrifice these people took to rescue and save people they didn't even know. I guess it's good vs. evil at it's best.

I know that Ms. Mason based this book on her father in law's experience during World War II, but I'm hoping that the flaws Marshall had were fiction. If they weren't, I guess it's a part of reality I would rather not acknowledge. The amount of research that went into this is staggering. I applaud her for wanting to get everything right for this period in history. 





If you want to know who the Girl in the Blue Beret is; well you will just have to read it for yourself.

Overall, I loved Ms. Mason's writing style and thoroughly enjoyed the back story of the Resistance even if I didn't connect with the main character.

If you are a fan of WWII novels, then you will want to pick up The Girl in the Blue Beret.

Final Take: 3.5/5

Thanks to Random House for sending me a copy of the book.



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2 comments :

Farin August 31, 2011 at 1:29 PM  

I felt the same about this book--I loved the moments when the author wrote about the Resistance, but I could have left everything else. Overall, I was surprisingly underwhelmed, but I liked the book.

Julie August 31, 2011 at 2:46 PM  

I initially liked Marshall and then as certain things were revealed throughout the book, I could have ditched him as the narrator.

Underwhelmed is a great word for it!

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