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3.9 out of 5 stars8
3.9 out of 5 stars
Format: Mass Market Paperback|Change
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 February 2014
Growing up in Paris just after World War 2, a sickly only child imagines having the kind of athletic, successful brother in whom his father could have taken pride. Keen to integrate into French society, to the extent of changing "Grinberg" to "Grimbert", his Jewish parents ironically conform to an Aryan stereotype of physical beauty and fitness. It is not until his mid-teens that the narrator learns "a secret", which dramatically alters his perception of his family.

Based on a true story, although you have to research this fact for yourself, it presents a poignant, at times harrowing, situation, perhaps too short on detail for a simple autobiography. Grimbert is creative to the extent of imagining two alternative paths by which his parents met, fell in love and married. He imagines them on one hand living relatively unscathed through the Nazi occupation of France, on the other suffering the ignominy of having to wear yellow stars and seeking escape to the "Zone Libre". He also chooses to change the identity of the person who reveals the secret to him.

Although I admired the stark brevity of his style, and appreciated the full horror of the family tragedy, some aspects disappointed me. Grimbert does not feel the need to develop the personalities of his parents' relatives, so they remain a sometimes confusing set of names. The story is based on a large amount of "telling" of events, with little revelation through dialogue or acting out of scenes. In the process, a good deal of potential drama is left untapped.

So, I rate it highly not as a piece of fiction but rather as a mixture of autobiography and therapeutic exercise by a man whose experience of psychological trauma in his own family prompted him to become a psychoanalyst as an adult. This story lends itself to study at school to enable teenagers to understand moral dilemmas particularly in Nazi-occupied France
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on 26 February 2015
Very interesting story, even more compelling when you know it is the author's own true story. It is a very cleverly written book - it is short, simple but extremely moving. Once you have read the book, I would also recommend you watch the film (by Claude Miller).
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on 5 October 2013
This was the cheapest of the textbooks I had to buy for my university lectures. Excellent value for money, in very good condition and arrived in time for my lectures.
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on 15 July 2013
This book was not in as good a condition as I had understood would be the case; however I am still looking forward to reading it.
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on 26 March 2015
Bought as a reader for my adult French class. Thought provoking at times.
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on 23 May 2015
Interesting book about his fictionalised own life.
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on 7 January 2016
Beautifully written
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on 15 February 2013
I am finding the Collins French to English Dictionary extremely useful when used in conjunction with my kindle. It allows me to move through the text of Un secret Le film more quickly than if I had to stop and look up the translation as one would in a traditional dictionary.
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