Books by Claire Hsu Accomando

LOVE AND RUTABAGA by Claire Hsu Accomando
Released: July 20, 1993

Wonderfully rendered evocations of life in German-occupied France during WW II, by the daughter of a French mother and a Chinese father. The author was just four when she, along with her mother and young brother, waved goodbye to their diplomat father as he boarded a train that was to take him across Russia to China. Accomando describes how her now-fatherless family left Paris to spend the duration of the war with her maternal grandparents in Rahon, a small provincial town under German occupation. Grandfather Laloy, an intimidating figure, was a distinguished musicologist and reviewer who had been a champion of Debussy and a friend of Stravinsky's; Accomando's Armenian-born grandmother, Nani, was a concert pianist. The children slowly adjusted to irksome changes- -food was rationed; meals were rounded out with the much-hated rutabaga; and eggs and butter were precious commodities—but the family had more pressing concerns as well: An uncle—AndrÇ—was in the Resistance; the author's mother acted as a Resistance courier; and various family acquaintances were also involved. When the Germans failed to capture AndrÇ, they took away Accomando's aunt, and, for a short time, the family's house was occupied by German soldiers hoping to trap AndrÇ—creating a very frightening situation since a typewriter, stencil copier, and short-wave radio were hidden in the house until resourceful Resistance members managed to remove them from right under the soldiers' noses. Meanwhile, news of the author's father was scanty, and the family reunited with him only when, at war's end, he was posted to Turkey and they received permission to join him there. Although recollected perhaps too perfectly—one wonders how Accomando can remember her young life in such vivid detail, including dialogue—nonetheless a compelling story as much about an unusual family as about the vicissitudes of war. Read full book review >