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In This Hospitable Land [Kindle Edition]

Lynmar Brock Jr
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (202 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Award-Winning Finalist in the Fiction: Historical category of the 2012 International Book Awards

When the Germans invade Belgium in 1940, chemistry professor André Severin fears the worst. His colleagues believe their social and political positions will protect them during the occupation, but André knows better. He has watched Hitler’s rise to power and knows the Nazis will do anything to destroy their enemies. For the Severins are Jews, non-practicing, yes, but that won’t matter to the Germans—or to the Belgians desperate to protect themselves by informing on their neighbors. And so André and his brother Alin take their parents, wives, and children and flee south. But when France falls to the Nazis, the refugees are caught in a rural farming community where their only hope for survival is to blend in with the locals. Fortunately, the Severins have come to Huguenot country, settled by victims of religious persecution who risk their own lives to protect the Jewish refugees and defy the pro-Nazi government. And as the displaced family grows to love their new neighbors, André and Alin join forces with the French Resistance to help protect them. Based on one family’s harrowing true story of survival, In This Hospitable Land is an inspirational novel about courage and the search for home in the midst of chaos.

Editorial Reviews Review

A Q&A with Lynmar Brock, Jr.

Question: Your novel, In This Hospitable Land, was inspired by the true story of a Belgian family who actually survived the Holocaust while living in the South of France. Tell us about this family and your discovery of their story.

Lynmar Brock, Jr.: Very simply I married one of the little girls. For my own family, we arrived in 1620 on the Mayflower and in 1682 with William Penn as he set up Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. Thus I had my family history down very well. But having married a girl from Belgium who arrived in the US in 1950 I was really interested in her family for my own sake and as much as for our two sons. I wanted them to know of their mother's story. That was really important to me. As an aside, our younger son has married a wonderful German girl (woman) and they have two children. And so I am trying to get her history, for now the "soup" thickens and after a couple of hundred years of mostly English/Scot/Irish ancestors (with a German g-g-g grandmother thrown in) the blood lines have been enhanced with all these new genes. Such a benefit. And to the point, as a young person (b. 1934) I did pay attention to the Second World War and knew much of what was going on. I remember specifically D-Day, the invasion of Normandy in 1944. In grade school we all knew what was going on. And so, getting married in 1963, Claudie and I sat down with her father and aunt and uncle and recorded five hours of conversation about the war years. For the first time they were willing to share that which they did not for the rest of the family or others.

Question: How much of the novel is fiction and how much fact? Was it difficult to use factual events in a fictional work?

Lynmar Brock, Jr.: Having gotten the family's story from them in 1969-70, then visiting France to be with the persons who made the survival of the family possible and gather their stories, I was able to assemble a pretty fair story line with dates in which I have some real confidence. And as new information came, I could test it against that which I already knew--the old method of getting two sources for one piece of information.

The events are real, enhanced by the history and printed by the participants following the war and for their own satisfaction. Also, my father-in-law printed several pamphlets at the university, including citing the 500 sheep missing and the fighting at La Riviere. The events are real. The one place where I am not sure that Andre was present was the incident of the killing at Les Puits de Celas. But that event was real. We have visited all the locations cited. It was easier to use factual events and then work on the dialogue. As I have said to others, I don't have their exact dialogue--it was never written down--but I had them say in the novel what I think they should have said. The dialogue is consistent with my knowledge of both the family and the many French who were there, who participated in the events and shared with me/us over a long period of time their feelings and emotions.

Question: You were in the U.S. Military before retiring to civilian life and becoming a businessman. How did your knowledge of military maneuvers influence your writing of this novel?

Lynmar Brock, Jr.: As a result of serving in the peacetime Navy, I know about military practices which I am sure were practiced by the Germans very effectively. Being in the U.S. Navy is not fun and games. It is a serious business. Being at the Pentagon in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations was a very serious business. I was recalled to active duty on our destroyer in 1961 when President Kennedy activated the reserve destroyers as a result of the raising of the Berlin Wall. It gave me a military perspective. And yes, I'm glad nobody was shooting at me during my service.

Question: Can we expect other historical fiction from you? What are you working on now?

Lynmar Brock, Jr.: Yes. I have written an historical novel, Must Thee Fight, the story of a Quaker youth who decided to join the military during the American Revolution against Quaker teachings and principles. I used the tension I faced when I had to decide whether to join the Navy or become a conscientious objector. I joined the military. And the true story is that only one of my Quaker ancestors joined Washington's army or militia. I have written a third novel, historical fiction, Genevieve, of a Navy officer in the Mediterranean Sea in the 1950s on a destroyer, meeting a beautiful French girl on vacation and the interaction between the two and the activity on a ship and the consequences of the relationship. I am now working on a sequel to Must Thee Fight.

The Family That Inspired In This Hospitable Land

Click on thumbnails for larger images

La Font, home in the Cévennes
The children bringing wheat in from the fields
Part of the Sauverin Family:
Front: Christel, Christian Ida
Back: André, Denise, Alex

Katie, Ida, Christel, Genevieve, and Philippe
at La Font
Rose Sauverin, walking up from Solyrols up to La Font
Alex and André shoveling manure

About the Author

Lynmar Brock, Jr., is a native of Pennsylvania who grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Newtown Square. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English and an MBA from Dartmouth College before joining the U.S. Navy in 1956. He served as an officer on a destroyer in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and later was transferred to the Pentagon, where he worked in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. After returning to civilian life, he took over operations of Brock and Company, his family’s food-services company, where he was president/CEO for forty-five years. He has also served on the board of directors of Rotary International, and his work with this worldwide service organization has taken him to India, Madagascar, Pakistan, and the Afghan border. In addition to In This Hospitable Land, Lynmar Brock is the author of Must Thee Fight and Genevieve. He is currently at work on his fourth book. He and his wife, Claudie, have two sons.

Product Details

  • File Size: 861 KB
  • Print Length: 607 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1935597469
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (April 26, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0045EOLDO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,049 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I chose this book because my high school son is about to be studying World War II, and I am always interested in real stories about that time period, particularly from a European point of view.

What I wasn't expecting -- because I didn't read the description closely enough -- was a nearly 600 page book. I don't know this will work for him simply because of the length. But it will help me to give him some different perspectives as we discuss his studies.

This book traces the Sauverin family from Belgium in 1940, into France during the war, and back to Belgium in 1944. The story was compelling, fascinating -- and a bit confusing too. Part of it is getting confused as to who is who among some of the minor characters. For example, near the middle of the book, there were two character -- Pierre and Pierrot -- who seemed to appear a bit out of nowhere, and I had a really difficult time keeping track of who was who. Fortunately, they were only part of the story for a brief time, so it didn't really matter that I couldn't figure them out.

It helped tremendously, I thought, to know a bit about the story before reading it. In the Preface, the author explains how he came to write this book, how he and his wife went and visited the areas where her family had lived. They spoke with people who had known them, and Brock was able to weave their stories into this book as well.

The last sentence of the preface was a key for me: "This, then, is the story of one family surviving the cataclysmic events of the Second World War." Learning how they survived kept me turning the pages.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Story March 8, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There are books with weak plots that are carried by strong writing. This is a novel with a very strong plot that carries writing that is not the strongest. My biggest criticism is that there are some wonderful flowery philosophical soliloquies that just do not ring true as something that would be spoken aloud by the characters. That is meager criticism that does not minimize the book to any appreciable degree.

Criticism out of the way, this is a compelling story (based upon the real life experience of the author's in-laws) of Belgian refugees who flee Brussels one step ahead of the Nazi invasion. They stay one step ahead of the Nazis through France into the heart of French Huguenot country where they are sheltered and protected.

There are two families comprised of brothers who married sisters and the boys parents and their very young children. The brothers and sisters are well-drawn characters with depth, particularly Andre (a former professor) and his wife Denise. The supporting cast are good. Mr. Brock does a fine job of giving all the minor characters enough personality that none are cutout stereotypes.

The tension starts from the outset as Brussels is bombed and the family trek is chronicled. Once they settled for a bit they are on the run again until they are separated in the most remote parts of France. As they get settled, Andre and his brother Alex join the efforts of the resistance, bringing a different type of tension to the novel.

Along with a compelling narrative, the book explores the family dynamics. Most interestingly, these are non-practicing Jews who are, of course, special targets of the Nazis and their Vichy compatriots. This makes the efforts of the Huguenots even more impressive.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but plodding April 10, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Lynmar Brock Jr.'s "In This Hospitable Land" begins in Brussels, Belgium on May 10, 1940 and ends in Brussels on October 9, 1944. It is a fictionalized account of the experiences of Brock's wife's family during World War II.

André and Alex Sauverin are brothers, who married sisters. Their wives, Denise and Geneviéve, come from a wealthy background. Both families are non-practicing Jews, have two young children and live comfortable lives in nice apartments in Brussels where André is a chemistry professor and Alex an expert philatelist. Everything changes when the Germans attack Brussels on May 10, 1940. Fortunately, the Sauverins have planned for this eventuality and are more prepared than many other Belgians to deal with the war.

Leaving Belgium, they eventually arrive in the Cévennes in southwest France, an agricultural area consisting of rugged farm land and of small, and frequently overlooked, towns. There the Cévenols, people descended from Protestant Huguenots, help them, hide them, and teach them how to survive. Brock details the drastic changes in the Sauverins' existence: going without "modern" conveniences; sharing small, crowded living spaces; working in fields instead of at desks or in labs; going without a plenty of good food and clothing; being unable to communicate regularly with friends and relatives. Gradually, for safety, family members are eventually forced to separate. Alex and André occasionally work with the French Resistance. One of the most compelling themes of the book is pacifist André's struggle to reconcile his believe in non-violence with what seems must be done to protect innocent people, including his family.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Really interesting details of life in hiding in France by Jewish family during WWII
Published 10 hours ago by texaseoff
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best writing, some end details of the families involved ...
Not the best writing, some end details of the families involved were not complete; but the history of this aspect of WW11 was informative, sad, but well worth the insights into the... Read more
Published 10 days ago by story travel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Still thinking about it. It's a book that has stayed with me.
Published 11 days ago by Edo Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good read
Published 12 days ago by Concetta P Clemens
4.0 out of 5 stars A great historical novel telling a WWII story not widely written ...
A great historical novel telling a WWII story not widely written about. This book provides a fresh and unique perspective of the European experience through the eyes of the... Read more
Published 13 days ago by D. Maupin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Everything is great !
Published 13 days ago by louise miner
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
A most enlightening book about the courage and suffering of the people of France during WWII. The book was written well and always kept my attention throughout the book. Read more
Published 14 days ago by R. Ogle
3.0 out of 5 stars This book had an interesting subject matter and one family's ...
This book had an interesting subject matter and one family's personal experiences of refugees during WWII. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Amelia
5.0 out of 5 stars Courage in survival
This true story of survival helped me appreciate the struggles of families during World War II. The people lived because they helped each other.
Published 15 days ago by Kathleen Fresquez
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Really enjoyed this book.
Published 16 days ago by bhar
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More About the Author

Lynmar Brock, Jr. was born in 1934 in the Philadelphia suburb of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He went to Dartmouth College undergraduate majoring in English, taking his senior year as his first year of graduate studies receiving his AB degree in 1955, and his MBA in 1956 from the Tuck School at Dartmouth.

He joined the U.S. Navy, commissioned an Ensign in 1956 serving on a destroyer in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet before being transferred to the Pentagon to serve in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

He joined Brock and Company, Inc. and in 1962 was elected president/CEO serving until succeeded by his son in 2007. Married to Claudie Juliard they have two sons.

Lynmar Brock has been active in many organizations as Chair, President, trustee, and Director including serving on the Board of Directors of Rotary International, a worldwide service organization with 1,200,000 members in 33,000 clubs in 174 countries and geographic areas. He has given polio vaccine to young persons in India and Madagascar and was chair of the Rotary International Committee taking care of 50,000 Afghan refugees taking refuge in Pakistan from the fighting in Afghanistan as a consequence of 9/11. He traveled several times up the Khyber Pass and along the Afghan border in Baluchistan west of Quetta.

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