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A High and Hidden Place: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 1, 2005
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
From Publishers Weekly
While watching television in the aftermath of President Kennedy's assassination, journalist Christine Lenoir witnesses Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald. This traumatic experience opens the floodgates of memory, causing her to wonder what in her sheltered French childhood could have produced such shadowy images of gunshots, fire and death. Raised by nuns since the age of six, Christine has always believed that her parents died in an influenza epidemic, but as she gradually pieces her childhood together, she learns that her family members were killed in the June 10, 1944, massacre of Oradour-sur-Glane, a French village just outside of Limoges. On that day, German soldiers rounded up 642 men, women and children in the village and killed them for no apparent reason. Lucas, a first-time novelist, does a fine job of blending her extensive research into Oradour's history with the story of the fictional character Christine, who escaped the massacre because she was playing in the woods. At times, the novel's shifting time frames can be disorienting, switching too often between the present in 1964, the wartime massacre nearly twenty years before, and the near past in 1963. However, the characterizations are haunting, and readers will feel compelled to turn the pages to find out whether Christine will be able to heal from the terrible burden of knowing her family's fate. In particular, Lucas does an outstanding job of weaving Catholic themes and faith through the book, daring to ask the unanswerable, age-old questions about God, suffering and the human capacity for evil.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
On June 10, 1944, the Nazis massacred 642 men, women, and children in the remote rural community of Oradour in southwest France. To this day, no one knows why. This first novel tells the story mainly from the viewpoint of a fictionalized character, one of the few survivors. Christine Lenoir was six years old when the soldiers shot her father and burned her mother and little brothers in the church. Raised in the convent, she believed her parents had died of influenza. Then, in 1963, she begins to remember and returns to confront the horror she has suppressed. The history is the drama here. The fictionalization is much too detailed and idyllic, not only Christine's sometimes maudlin meandering but also the many interspersed vignettes of the blissfully peaceful perfect folk in their 1944 sleepy community before the sudden end. It is the history of civilian massacre that haunts you; the ordinary lives cut short. Why has this World War II horror story been nearly forgotten? Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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In many ways, Lucas' novel is a beautiful tale of the resiliency of the human psyche and the redemptive power of faith. However, the novel suffers some credibility problems. For example, when Christine arrives in the US, she's at the mercy of a culture she doesn't fully understand. This is hard to believe given Christine's career. Lucas makes much of Christine's inability to understand American slang, but then proceeds to put American idioms into the character's mouth.
At times, the horror of the Nazis is portrayed in such lovely prose that it becomes almost gothically, dreamily beautiful. It becomes too easy for the reader's mind to skim the surface.