The Girl in the Blue Beret by Bobbie Ann Mason
A Novel

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Synopsis

Inspired by the wartime experiences of her father-in-law, Bobbie Ann Mason has crafted the haunting and profoundly moving story of an American World War II pilot shot down in Occupied Europe, and his wrenching odyssey of discovery, decades later, as he uncovers the truth about those who helped him escape in 1944.
 
At twenty-three, Marshall Stone was a confident, cocksure U.S. flyboy stationed in England, with several bombing raids in a B-17 under his belt. But when enemy fighters forced his plane to crash-land in a Belgian field during a mission to Germany, Marshall had to rely solely on the kindness of ordinary Belgian and French citizens to help him hide from and evade the Nazis. Decades later, restless and at the end of his career as an airline pilot, Marshall returns to the crash site and finds himself drawn back in time, unable to stop thinking about the people who risked their lives to save Allied pilots like him. Most of all, he is obsessed by the girl in the blue beret, a courageous young woman who protected and guided him in occupied Paris.
 
Framed in spellbinding, luminous prose, Marshall’s search for her gradually unfolds, becoming a voyage of discovery that reveals truths about himself and the people he knew during the war. Deeply beautiful and impossible to put down, The Girl in the Blue Beret is an unforgettable story—intimate, affecting, exquisite—of memories, second chances, and one intrepid girl who risked it all for a stranger. 
 
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About Bobbie Ann Mason

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Bobbie Ann Mason is the author of In Country, Shiloh and Other Stories, An Atomic Romance, Nancy Culpepper, and a memoir, Clear Springs. She is the winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, two Southern Book Awards, and numerous other prizes, including the O. Henry and the Pushcart. She was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the American Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. She is writer-in-residence at the University of Kentucky.
 
Published June 28, 2011 by Random House. 369 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, War. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Girl in the Blue Beret

Kirkus Reviews

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Marshall and Annette become lovers before they set off to cross the Pyrenees, a trip full of bittersweet memories for Marshall.

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The New York Times

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In her acknowledgements, Mason notes: “This novel was inspired by the World War II experience of my father-in-law, Barney Rawlings (1920-2004).” “The Girl in the Blue Beret” is a work of remarkable empathy, if not of remarkable creativity.

Jul 22 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Blue Beret: A...

Kirkus Reviews

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Her latest, The Girl in the Blue Beret, was inspired by her father-in-law’s World War II experiences as an aviator shot down in occupied Europe and aided by the French Resistance.

Jun 27 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Blue Beret: A...

Examiner

The Girl in the Blue Beret is based on real events and even diaries of people who lived during World War Two, but it also contains fictional components.

Aug 08 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Blue Beret: A...

Star Tribune

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Mason's novel, in some ways oddly distant, offers a very real sense of how history plays out on an intimate level.

Jun 25 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Blue Beret: A...

The Washington Times

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To Marshall, the lives of the Resistance fighters are living illustrations of Shakespeare’s defiant lines to live one’s life bravely, especially in the very teeth of peril, for “out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.” Retiring from his work as an airline pilot, Marshall travels...

Aug 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Blue Beret: A...

USA Today

One man in particular.The novel is based on Mason's late father-in-law, Barney Rawlings (called Marshall Stone in the book), and his real-life experiences as a gallant, daredevil flyboy who made nine bombing raids over Europe until the fateful day he is brought down, crashing his B-17 into a Belg...

Jul 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Blue Beret: A...

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Autopsy reveals Indiana County toddler died from accidental drowning Mon Wharf to stay closed Monday 'Dr. Stress' turns down the volume at firehouse Eyewitness 1863: Culture still finds its way to Pittsburgh during war York's...

Jun 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Blue Beret: A...

City Book Review

When he retires from his career as an airline pilot, Marshall Stone feels the pull of what he describes as the worst time of his life: crash landing his B-17 during World War II and spending months in hiding.

Sep 11 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Blue Beret: A...

Journal Sentinel

Concluding with a telling sketch of the disjointed reunion between a sweetly naive Loretta and Marshall's scarred self, this chapter foreshadows the failed marriage to come, foregrounding the sense of dislocation that Mason does best - and underscoring Mason's own dislocation in "Blue Beret" from...

Jun 25 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Blue Beret: A...

Bookmarks Magazine

Daniel Swift Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 2 of 5 Stars "Although Mason constantly reminds us that Marshall knows French, the novel's dialogue is stiff, serving as clumsily disguised exposition and larded with maudlin speeches and sententious proclamations.

Jun 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Blue Beret: A...

AARP

Marshall hopes to find the people who helped and hid him along the way — notably, the teenage girl who was his Paris contact, and who met him along the rue de Rivoli, “her blue beret standing out like a flower against the barren winter gardens of the Tuileries.” ...

Aug 17 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Blue Beret: A...

Reader Rating for The Girl in the Blue Beret
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