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Missing Lucile: Memories of the Grandmother I Never Knew (Shannon Ravenel Books) Hardcover – October 12, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Shannon Ravenel Books
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; First Edition edition (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565126254
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565126251
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,938,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Berne’s father, John Henry, lost his mother, Lucile, at an early age, an experience that’s haunted him his entire life. Now, as he battles cancer, his daughter wants to help him accomplish something that has eluded him for his 80-plus years: find out who Lucile Kroger really was. The daughter of self-made American grocer Bernard Kroger, Lucile led what many would consider a charmed life, growing up in a sprawling Cincinnati mansion at the turn of the century. Alas, her father was an often difficult man, and when she went to work for him as the Kroger empire’s treasurer, it was a challenging endeavor. Award-winning novelist Berne (The Ghost at the Table, 2006) pores through what turns out to be a rather paltry collection of Kroger family keepsakes in an effort to understand Lucile, from her college years at Wellesley to her stint as a relief worker in post-WWII France. With few facts to go on, the author must reconstruct much of her family history. The effort is laudable, but the end result is only mildly engaging. --Allison Block

About the Author

Suzanne Berne is the author of three novels, the first of which, A Crime in the Neighborhood, won great Britain’s Orange Prize. Her most recent novel is The Ghost at the Table. She lives with her family near Boston and teaches at Boston College.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is author Suzanne Berne's search for her paternal grandmother who died in 1932 and left a void in her family's personal history that was never filled and never completely understood.
Ironically, Berne's grandmother Lucile Kroger Berne was not exactly a typical wife and mother by circumstance or inclination. The third child of Bernard Kroger, a self-made supermarket magnate who founded in the late 19th century what would become the Kroger Grocery chain, Lucile was essentially a child of great privilege. The first family member to graduate college, Lucile had a sharp mind for business and during the period of WWI served as the treasurer of her father's company when her brothers were off serving in the military. She was an aid worker in Europe as the war wound down and an early feminist who participated in the causes of early 20th century women. She was also a seemingly depressed wife and housewife who found little happiness in her marriage and home. It was Berne's quest to find all of this out about her grandmother and debunk the myths and misconceptions that had been handed down through family lore in remote bits and pieces.
On the face of it, the facts concerning Berne's grandmother are not necessarily explosive or riddled with scandal or intrigue though they certainly are interesting. However, what really appealed to me was the combination of discovery and greater understanding that occurred between Berne and her sometimes estranged father/Lucile's son, who was essentially a lost child for most of his life and had a very real disconnect with his own family as he appeared and then disappeared out of the lives of his children. Berne's quest was fascinating.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By bookie on December 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Suzanne Berne is a truly gifted novelist. Her previous three books I have immensely enjoyed. I appreciated the personal slant to this novel. I read this book extremely quickly and found the story of finding a deeper understanding of yourself through an exploration of family history important, poignant, and deeply relevant to any reader. Readers get to be present for Berne's creation of her personal narrative through her exploration of her family history through remembered family vignettes and found documents-- a touching and moving process to be able to witness. Made me think a lot about my own family in the process.

Highly recommend this to any reader.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I do not usually enjoy biographies because even the life of a famous person can be pretty dull most of the time. However, this book is written like a mystery, with the author searching for facts about a life that is largely unknown and, at the point she makes the attempt, largely unknowable. The connecting of the dots makes for fascinating reading. The author was particularly skillful in the way she focused on certain details, emphasizing things in the way a medium might in what she finds in the dregs of her emptied cup of tea. Also, I enjoyed how the author painted not only a picture of her lost grandmother, but of the hours she had once walked (giving the reader a sense of place and time as well as personal history). Great book! Well worth reading! Certainly the most interesting biography that I've ever read.
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By Nomi Redding on November 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had higher hopes for this book, given the synopsis and intriguing concept, to research/reconstruct the life of a relative personally unknown to the author. While there were glimpses of interesting discoveries, ultimately the book seemed empty of reality, instead filled, in a somewhat tedious and annoying way, by speculations of the author, calling into question, "What/whose memories are we talking about here?" Those who would not be as bothered by her style might enjoy the book more than I.
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