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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching story of love and war
Cocky young U. S. Army pilot Marshall Stone has nine missions under his belt when his B-17 bomber is forced down in a Belgian field, near the French border, during World War Two. Struggling to escape the nearby German troops he flees into the woods and is helped by some ordinary citizens of the town, who are secret members of the Resistance. These incredibly brave people,...
Published on July 1, 2011 by Mary Verdick

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The story had such potential
What a wonderful idea for a story, but the writing is so choppy; jumps from thought to thought with no connection. And the characters are so flat. I find Marshall to be not even likable; he seems unable to connect with his own children yet supposedly has this overwhelming desire to track down people he barely knew over 40 years before.

This book is easy to...
Published on July 18, 2011 by Diane C. Kulik


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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching story of love and war, July 1, 2011
This review is from: The Girl in the Blue Beret: A Novel (Hardcover)
Cocky young U. S. Army pilot Marshall Stone has nine missions under his belt when his B-17 bomber is forced down in a Belgian field, near the French border, during World War Two. Struggling to escape the nearby German troops he flees into the woods and is helped by some ordinary citizens of the town, who are secret members of the Resistance. These incredibly brave people, young and old, and from all walks of life, daily put their lives on the line to help the U. S. and British airmen who have been shot down get back to their bases in England.

Stone remembers the great kindness he was shown and especially the unbelievable courage of these people. He especially remembers a teen-age girl in a blue beret, who guided him through war-torn Paris to meet his contacts. His escape route took him on a harrowing journey over the Pyrenees to Spain, but he made it back to his base and never looked back. Now a 60-year-old widower and anxious to make peace with his past, Stone returns to Belgium determined to find the brave people who saved his life so long ago. What follows is an amazing story of courage and redemption and another chance at love. And yes, he does find the girl in the blue beret, whose own story is both powerful and effecting.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The story had such potential, July 18, 2011
What a wonderful idea for a story, but the writing is so choppy; jumps from thought to thought with no connection. And the characters are so flat. I find Marshall to be not even likable; he seems unable to connect with his own children yet supposedly has this overwhelming desire to track down people he barely knew over 40 years before.

This book is easy to put down and not have any feeling of rushing back to find out what happened next. I'm about half way through and really only sticking with it because I have nothing else in the house I have not already read.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not as great as some thought, July 9, 2011
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A funny mix of story based on actual events or diaries from people who lived through these times and fictional elements. More to recommend than to dislike, but I could never truly feel immersed in it. The ending seems tacked on. Wanted to believe that the girl could have risen so far above her torture, but I really don't buy it. Perhaps if she had had a great deal of therapy, but just turning off the memories, I don't buy this as real and I think it demeans the lasting effects of such horrific suffering. Having known Holocaust survivors, and sensed their deep insecurities and misery, I just can't buy such a miraculous healing--unless it happened for inexplicable reasons. Robert's descent into alcoholism seems closer to the reality of what I have seen. This was a terrible war and left a lot of crippled survivors. Read it, but question it! One virtue of the book is to reveal the suffering that members of the French resistance endured.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed in this over-hyped book, October 31, 2011
This review is from: The Girl in the Blue Beret: A Novel (Hardcover)
Forced into retirement by his beloved airline, Marshall Stone has lost his purpose in life. His thoughts turn to long suppressed memories of World War II and his experiences after crashing a plane behind enemy lines. He remembers with gratitude the people who aided his escape from the Nazis and decides to retrace his steps through Belgium and France. According to the Amazon.com review, "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."

To be honest, I am forced to wonder if I'm the only reader who feels like the reviews are exaggerated praise for a humdrum work by well-established author. The writing is choppy and, though it tries to be emotionally evocative, never quite reaches the point of touching this reader's heart. Marshall is a very unsympathetic "hero." Self-absorbed and almost egotistic, he dully recounts his lackluster relationships with his now-deceased wife and children while obsessing over memories of women he encountered (and slept with) only briefly during the war. I tried to forgive his failings and write them off as realism, but his personality is otherwise as lackluster as his relationships and I just couldn't bring myself to get drawn into his story. His recollections of his past are as drably recounted as the rest of his narrative. Sad to say, I worked hard to like the novel, but I have failed miserably and am returning it to the library unfinished.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull and Disappointing, September 28, 2011
By 
Miss Scarlet (Peosta, IA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Girl in the Blue Beret: A Novel (Hardcover)
The best thing about this book is its title. But unfortunately the book is not about the girl in the blue beret--or the girl on the bicycle, or the boy with the cigarettes, or the mysterious "Robert," or any of the many other members of the French resistance it cursorily mentions. It's about a self-centered American pilot trying to adjust to his enforced retirement and looking for the next woman to hit on.

There was a good story here, but it never came to life. In addition to one-dimensional characters, disconnected dialogue, and annoying redundancies, the sequence of events is deliberately muddled at the beginning, and the point of view remains distant throughout. I was completely bored until chapter 24 when the details of the forced landing are finally explained. The story of the girl in the blue beret does not begin until the end of chapter 42 (out of 60 chapters, mind you), and even then its narration is detached and perfunctory. The author missed her chance to create empathy for the characters and suspense about their fate by not introducing them as their younger selves earlier in the story. As it was, I didn't care if the retired pilot ever found the people who had helped him--or a new girlfriend. I just wanted the book to be over.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine work from a skilled author, July 19, 2011
By 
L. Havens (Idaho, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This was a beautifully written, moving story about two people who find each other years after their meeting during WWII. It offers two perspectives on how people deal with the past. The main character, Marshall, has castigated himself for his performance and felt like a failure. By returning to the scene of his experiences, he begins to see that he may not have appreciated the whole picture. Annette, the French girl who helped him, has put her traumatic past behind her and embraced life for what it is. The book is also valuable for shining a light on the mostly unseen heroes of the French resistance movement. If you enjoy historical fiction or just a well-written story, I would highly recommend this book.
A note on the ending: It does end more like a short story than a novel. If you can accept that you may not get all the strands tied up in a neat bow, I don't think the ending will bother you. It didn't bother me.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, July 10, 2011
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I had such high hopes for this book. World War II fighter pilot gets shot down, has a great life as a commercial airline pilot, only to be retired and put out to pasture before his time. He decides to go back and search for all that helped him in his escape out of France. Sounds good, but the author failed to deliver. The characters were flat and uninteresting, and the second part of the book where he finds his girl in the blue beret was like reading a script from a movie. Too much stilted dialogue, too many clichés. And the ending felt rushed with many unanswered questions. If there is going to be a sequel to this book, I won't be reading.

The only redeeming factor was the information provided by the author of the horrible lives the French Resistance suffered through their gallant efforts to hide and return the aviators to freedom.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved the story but not the ending, July 16, 2011
This review is from: The Girl in the Blue Beret: A Novel (Hardcover)
I really liked this story, loved all the characters and felt the history of that time period was right on the mark. I did not like the ending. It left me flat. I was waiting for SOMETHING but just the fade into the distance, I felt, was just not up to the rest of the writing.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From a pilot's point of view, an unforgettable time to remember!, July 11, 2011
This review is from: The Girl in the Blue Beret: A Novel (Hardcover)
I first spotted this title in a magazine and the subject immediately caught my attention. Our local library kindly loaned me their copy and once I opened the book I could not put it down!

The Girl in the Blue Beret is everything the Publisher promised! Here is indeed a story so well written you will hear boots beating the sidewalks, sirens screaming, you will feel the despair of occupation and experience also the courage displayed by everyday people!

Occupied Europe during World War 2 is a time most people try to forget yet its haunting shadows always remains. Few really like to speak of it, the ones who do are often reticent.
The older folks will tell you the ones who speak often of their valour during the war stayed out of harm's way!

Atrocities were committed, many lost their lives...
Some became heroes, some became collaborators but lest we forget we are Christians, let's also remember that we should not judge whole nations by a few people's actions and this includes the ennemy. Unless we live through occupation ourselves we have no idea where we would stand.

We should never forget the incredible Resistance system that saved thousands of pilots from "Camp Germany". This story attest that Heroes are just ordinary men, women and yes, even youths who contrived to defy the odds because they believed in a cause. When your freedom has been forcibly taken from you by an outside force, your pride rallies and you fight back...or not...

Bobbie Ann Mason brings us an excellent rendition of one man's search to fill the gaps in his suddenly empty life. Turning 60, the airline for which he flew put him to pasture...Death for any flyboy!
In his search Marshall Stone will discover the true identity of the people of Belgium and France who risked their lives to save him and in the end find his way Home!

Being bilingual I particularly enjoyed the fluent transition betwixt the dialogues and the local flavours the author vividly describes! I clealy saw myself in that B17 landing on Belgian soil...

Forgive but never forget my Grandfather would always say...

I give it 5 stars!

A quick reminder as always of course: I was not asked to review this book and any opinion expressed is solely my own!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Informative but disappointing, December 30, 2011
This review is from: The Girl in the Blue Beret: A Novel (Hardcover)
In reading the other reviews, I find that I agree with the reviewers who say they were disappointed with the choppy writing and under-developed characters. I did learn about aspects of WWII that I didn't know before. But I was surprised that the gist of the novel is about a man who cheated on his wife during the war and as soon as she died, hurried to find a woman he met while he was married. It has a feeling of discarding the wife, who was the author's mother-in-law. How could I root for him?
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The Girl in the Blue Beret: A Novel
The Girl in the Blue Beret: A Novel by Bobbie Ann Mason (Hardcover - June 28, 2011)
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