MY LONGEST NIGHT by Genevieve Duboscq


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So distinctly changeable in mood is this memoir of growing up in Normandy during the war (1939-45), that it tends to read like not one but four books. First comes six-year-old Genevieve's harsh life as the much-beaten daughter of a drunkard grade-crossing-keeper on the Paris-to-Cherbourg line near Ste.-Mère-Eglise. Then we meet, in turn: the brave, quickly matured, eleven-year-old angel of mercy who helps the family, at one point, shelter and nurse six wounded soldiers, Americans and Germans alike, in the same small, vulnerable-to-attack house; the captivatingly plucky songbird sought in marriage at 14 by Robert, a young French-American soldier; and, finally, the horribly wounded and mutilated Genevieve (after a landmine accident a few months later) who battles her way back from certain death and blindness to function as her own narrator in this inspirational tale. Most evocative of all is the book's first third, which describes the marshy Normandy geography, the tracks across the water, the pre-D-Day paratroopers dropping unknowingly into possible death by drowning. . . were it not for the quick rescuing acts of the Duboscqs. But just as much, if not more, here is also plain trial-and-tribulation suds: admirable in its cumulative doughtiness, but no more permanently memorable than any of a dozen other such tales.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1981
Publisher: Seaver--dist. by Random House