The year is 1941...and France has fallen to the German army. But to Marcel and his two older brothers, Pierre and René, the war seems far away from their tiny village of Mont-Saint-Martin. They spend a happy summer fishing, playing soliers, and holding contest to see who is the biggest lier. Then the Germans occupy their village -- and Marcel and his brothers learn who is the best liar of them all.
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Gregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Lost; Mirror Mirror; and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. Now a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a blockbuster Tony Award–winning Broadway musical. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.Review:
For a school project, three students must interview an elderly individual about his or her experiences during World War II; they manage to track down M. Delarue, a landscape painter who lived in France as a child. His memory triggered by the questions of his young interrogators, he writes a long letter, divided into sections, about life in his small village after its occupation by German troops. The device is effective, permitting the individual chapters to emerge as self-contained vignettes while retaining a sense of overall unity. There is a plot, the resolution of which is gradually revealed as M. Delarue and his brothers mature. Having prided themselves on escaping the consequences of their escapades by being accomplished liars, they now must learn that truth has many facets, and that charity sometimes requires that it be concealed. The initial chapters are filled with the details of boyhood shenanigans-from spilling a precious bucket of milk to "liberating" prize irises from the convent garden. Yet a darker tone pervades the narrative, rising to a crescendo in the final pages when the narrator and his brother Ren‚ learn not only why their secret friendship with a German soldier cannot continue but also the surprising identity of the most accomplished liar of them all. Although easy to read, the book is sophisticated in concept. At once poignant and thoughtful, laced with humor, it offers readers an unusual perspective on history.
"Humorous, sad, involving vignettes comprise the short, fast-paced chapters that add up to a tale that seems more vivid memoir than invented." Kirkus Reviews
Hoping for a good grade on their World War II project, three Florida girls write a letter of questions to Marcel Delarue, an artist who grew up in occupied France. In reply, he sends a long letter that becomes the text of this first-person novel. After he sketches in the background (a village in the middle of France), and the central characters (Marcel, his two brothers, and their mother), their story begins to unfold. The framework of the letters gradually disappears from readers' consciousness as Marcel's childhood observations and experiences become increasingly compelling. The three brothers are convincingly imperfect in their actions, childlike in their attitudes, and human in their reactions to events and emotions. Marcel's innocent, often silly lies and escapades are eventually shadowed by the realization of certain misunderstood conversations and events that add up to a larger lie. Marcel's mother finally lets him in on the secret to keep him from unwittingly revealing it: for more than a year, a Jewish woman and her daughter have been hiding in a secret crawl space in their home, coming out only at night when the children are asleep. Quietly told, this absorbing story carries the conviction of memoir rather than invention. Another memorable story of World War II.
March 22, 1999 Publishers Weekly, Starred
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Book Description Harper Trophy, New York, 2002. Soft cover. Book Condition: New. No Jacket. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # 8483
Book Description HarperCollins, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110064408744
Book Description HarperCollins. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0064408744 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW6.0021338
Book Description HarperCollins, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0064408744