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Secret
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2007
This is an exquisite, deeply moving story of how a boy unearths the awesome secret of his childhood. The telling of it is even more exquisite, because of the finesse with which layer after layer of truth is excavated, moving closer to the heart of the author. It's really a thriller of the heart. The French version has been a colossal best-seller and won three major literary prizes; and this translation embellishes the alert, insightful, elegant manner of the author.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2007
This book was an exciting read. The fact that it is based on a real and terrible secret in the author's life makes it even more extraordinary. The book affords an intimate glimpse into life in Paris suburbia with flashbacks to the time when France was occupied by the Nazis.

A bestseller in France, McLean does justice to the spare but lyrical prose in this excellent translation

The author's description of the forbidden love between his parents contains some of the most compelling and sexually charged passages I have read.

Above all the book underlines my assertion that the past can never be buried - secrets need to rise to the surface and be resolved. The way Grimbert surfaces and resolves his 'secret' is an inspiration.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 7 May 2008
This is not a book I would ever have bought; I received it free with a subscription to a book review magazine. I thought it was absolutely superb, I could not stop reading and finished it in a day. A fascinating and moving story, plainly but beautifully told.

I would caution against reading any detailed reviews of it... the less you know when you begin, the more powerful the story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2009
Don't read the spoiler on the back cover. Luckily I only bothered to read it after reading the book.

This is one of those books - one of those stories - that is so powerful that it can only be told in the barest prose: this happened, that happened and then that happened...

I was put off by the sparseness for the first third of the book, then began to realise that any embellishment would have been in bad taste.

...I remember seeing a TV documentary - an interview with an Israeli haidresser who, during WW2, had become separated from his family and had ended up in one of the Nazi death camps. He insisted that he would only be interviewed about his experience there in his salon, and indeed he was cutting a customer's hair while he told his story to the camera.

He survived in the camp because hairdressers were needed - to cut off the hair of the new arrivals before they were led into the gas chamber. (The hair was sold for wig-making, amongst other things.) The Germans didn't want a panic, and there was no point in adding more suffering to the arrivals - and besides, he wanted to survive, so went along with the line that the short haircuts were a measure against head lice - and treated his 'customers' with his usual breezy courtesy. Then one day, with a group of new arrivals, his wife walked through the door...

(At this point in his story, the hairdresser's voice has become hard and rather loud, as if he is forcing the words out - one impulse to break down, and one impulse to tell his story. The impulse to tell his story is just winning out.)

...he greets his long-lost wife, comforts her, reassures her that they will both be fine, cuts her hair, tells her he'll see her later and smiles, waving her goodbye as she is led off into the gas chamber.

Some stories can only be told in that simple, direct way, and 'Secret' is one of those stories.

Yes, read it.

And when you've read it, investigate the 'Family Constellation' therapy work developed by Bert Hellinger.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2011
Written by Philippe Grimbert, a French psycho-analyst, "Secret" is a autobiographical novel treating issues like acceptance, guilt, hate and implications of the decisions made by the politicians on individuals. A brilliant film based on the novel was made by Claude Miller in 2007 with Patrick Bruel and Cecile de France.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2012
I recommend this book I'll say nothing about it other than it's worth a leap into the unknown by buying it on spec, Marcel Proust it's not but it's a lot easier on the mind.
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on 24 April 2014
A very interesting read which is well written but I think it would read better if you read it fast rather than over a period of time like I did. The story is sad but it does not overshadow the book and there is a complex array of characters that will keep you enthralled in this book and the events. Definitely recommend it.
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on 5 May 2013
This is an excellent book. A memoir of the author's childhood in wartime France, revealing a shocking secret. My only reservation, I think it is a great pity that the back cover gives away an important part of the story. The French edition I have does not have that.
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on 12 February 2015
Very swift delivery! Excellent book in perfect condition. Thank you!
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