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Love And War In The Pyrenees: A Story Of Courage, Fear And Hope, 1939-1944 Paperback – 23 Jul 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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  • Love And War In The Pyrenees: A Story Of Courage, Fear And Hope, 1939-1944
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; Reprint edition (23 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753825910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753825914
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 301,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Fascinating... courage, cruelty, heroism and the truth about both resistance and collaboration are revealed in a work that brilliantly reconstructs a past that is still contested. (WATERSTONES BOOKS QUARTERLY)

Bailey renders history personal and so brings it to life. (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Combining memoir, fact and storytelling, Bailey does an impressive job. (INDEPENDENT)

Part travel book, part history, part persnoal memoir, this is a gripping read. (NORTHERN ECHO)

Review

"Her style of writing adds colour, depth and personality to what could otherwise be a dark subject matter... not only an interesting read... fascinating." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
History books do not normally make for a riveting read, but this has to be an exception! If you have read and enjoyed Suite Francaise read this - it has the same thought-provoking immediacy and will stay with you for a long time. The author has tracked down the unknown and unsung stories of ordinary people living in the eastern Pyrenees during WW II and the hardships and sacrifices they endured can at times be unbearably sad.

Painstakingly researched, Rosemary Bailey has sensitively teased out, and preserved for posterity, the personal testimonies of survivors (now elderly and often reluctant to talk) whose stories could have been lost forever. A chronological account of the course of the war in France is seamlessly interwoven with the stories of local families. Neglected by other chroniclers, the author exposes the misery suffered by refugees from Franco's Spain in French camps. Early (female) Resistance workers are celebrated and the accounts of those helping endangered intellectuals flee the Nazis are reminiscent of the film, Casablanca.

Whereas many ex-pats are content merely to sit drinking wine in the sunshine of their adopted country (and who can blame them?) Rosemary Bailey, who clearly loves the region she now lives in and has such an affinity with, has tirelessly produced a hugely-principled tribute and enduring memorial to the people of the area that has welcomed her - I hope her dedication is appreciated and that this wonderful book reaches the wide audience it so richly deserves.
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Format: Hardcover
As a frequent visitor to the Pyrénées-Orientales and a keen hiker in its mountains I only had a vague idea of the area's history. I had occasionally passed an old sentry post above the remote village of Mantet and had known that its occupants were once German troops. I had read some accounts of Pyrenean escape routes. Rosemary Bailey's book is a potent antidote to this lack of knowledge since it thoroughly covers this history in the turbulent period of 1939-1944.

The title "Love and War in the Pyrenees" gives a clue to one of the book's core themes of opposites. In the Spanish Civil War the Republicans fight the Nationalists causing refugees to pour over the Pyrenees, the natural border between Spain and France. Rosemary Bailey's abbey Corbiac is the abode where a young couple, Pierre and Amélie, live before they are parted in the general WW2 mobilisation and the "Phoney War". Both continue to communicate by letter from contrasting locations. When full war breaks out Pétain's collaborating Vichy government is countered by de Gaulle's London-based Free French. The German-backed French Milice (militia) battles the Resistance. Above all, the French Revolution's freedom for Jewish people is overturned by their incarceration in southern camps of appalling hardship. The book covers these opposing sides and the often shady and confusing spectrum between each ideological pole.

Love and War includes the following chapters; Return to the Land, The Spanish Retirada, The Camps of Scorn, A Quaker Refuge, The Phoney War, The Fall of France, Defeat, Surrender on Demand, Escape Networks, Rivesaltes, Occupation, Resistance, Liberation and Reprisal.
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Format: Hardcover
At the end of "Love and War in the Pyrenees," Rosemary Bailey muses that she wishes she could have written a novel about her topic. Yet it occurs to me--as an inveterate reader of novels and not an aficionado of war stories (I was drawn to this one because it deals with Southern France, which is my home)--that with the vividness of its detail, the complexity of its characters, and the suspensefulness of its story this book creates the engagement of the best novels, while at the same time giving evidence of scrupulous and extensive factual research throughout.
"Love and War in the Pyrenees" is an extraordinary journalistic accomplishment for the extent and quality of materials that it brings together--Bailey has woven together countless tiny threads to achieve a tapestry depicting how the war years actually were to those living through them. The elements she combines range from the sensuously concrete to the broadly philosophical: the ingredients and the aroma of a country soup for a schoolboy who'd barely eaten in days, Sartre's pronouncements on the existential freedom of choosing between loyalty to the Resistance and escape from torture, what fleeing refugees felt on their skin and "in their bones" in a Pyreneean mountain pass on an icy winter night after hours of walking in the dark, what Cocteau's lover wore (turquoise trousers and an ocelot vest) as he hid among gypsies.
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