Shadows of a Childhood by Elisabeth Gille
A Novel of War and Friendship

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A "riveting" (Publishers Weekly) and "unforgettable" (Kirkus Reviews) novel of war and friendship. Praised by the New York Times as "unsettling and uncompromising," this winner of France's 1997 Grand Prix des Lectrices is a fictionalized account of one individual's -- and one country's -- coming to terms with World War II. La and Benedicte are five and seven when they are hidden together in a convent in Bordeaux in the 1940s. They become inseparable, sharing everything except the secrets of their parents' disappearances. After the war, Benedicte's world returns to normal while La, marked by childhood memories she cannot escape, undertakes a devastating search for the truth. Hailed as a "novel of understated grace and enormous power" by Library Journal, this is a book destined to take its place alongside The Diary of Anne Frank.

About Elisabeth Gille

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Élisabeth Gille (1937-1996) was born in Paris, the daughter of Michel Epstein, a banker, and of the novelist Irène Némirovsky. In 1942, both parents were deported to Auschwitz, where they died, but Gille and her older sister, Denise, lived out the duration of World War II in hiding. Gille worked for many years as an editor and translator, especially of science fiction, and she was over fifty when her first book, The Mirador, appeared and was immediately recognized as a major achievement. Before her death she also published Le Crabe sur la banquette arrière (The Crab in the Backseat), a mordantly funny examination of people's responses to her battle with cancer, and a short novel that reflects her and her sister's life in the years after their parents' disappearance, Un paysage de cendres, translated into English as Shadows of a Childhood. Marina Harss is a translator and dance writer living in New York City. Her recent translations include Mariolina Venezia's Been Here a Thousand Years, Alberto Moravia's Conjugal Love, Pier Paolo Pasolini's Stories from the City of God, and Dino Buzzati's Poem Strip (NYRB Classics). René de Ceccatty is a French novelist, playwright, and critic. His most recent book is a study of Giacomo Leopardi.
Published March 1, 1998 by New Press, The. 138 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Shadows of a Childhood

Kirkus Reviews

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The difficult life of author Gille, a well-known publisher's editor who had lost her Russian-born mother during WW II and who died in 1996, is memorably fictionalized in this dramatically detailed story of another war orphan.

Mar 01 1998 | Read Full Review of Shadows of a Childhood: A Nov...

Kirkus Reviews

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LÇa's friendship with a slightly older girl BÇnÇdicitÇ (their adventures together will remind many readers of the harrowing wartime film Forbidden Games), her innocent need to know where her family has gone, and her painful readjustment to ``normal'' life in the decade after the war are rendered ...

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Publishers Weekly

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Stubborn and precocious, Lea attaches herself ""like a shadow"" to Benedicte Gaillac, two years older and the vivacious daughter of Communist Resistance fighters who, by adopting Lea into their family, try to keep her from knowing the horrible details surrounding her parents' disappearance.

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