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Download A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France Audiobook, by Miranda Richmond Mouillot Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Miranda Richmond Mouillot Narrator: Miranda Richmond Mouillot Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2015 ISBN: 9781101888384
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A young woman moves across an ocean to uncover the truth about her grandparents’ mysterious estrangement and pieces together the extraordinary story of their wartime experiences.

In 1948, after surviving World War II by escaping Nazi-occupied France to refugee camps in Switzerland, the author’s grandparents, Anna and Armand, bought an old stone house in a remote, picturesque village in the South of France. Five years later, Anna packed her bags and walked out on Armand, taking the typewriter and their children. Aside from one brief encounter, the two never saw or spoke to each other again, never remarried, and never revealed what had divided them forever.

A Fifty-Year Silence is the deeply involving account of Miranda Richmond Mouillot’s journey to find out what happened between her grandmother, a physician, and her grandfather, an interpreter at the Nuremberg Trials, who refused to utter his wife’s name aloud after she left him. To discover the roots of their embittered and entrenched silence, Miranda abandons her plans for the future and moves to their stone house, now a crumbling ruin; immerses herself in letters, archival materials, and secondary sources; and teases stories out of her reticent—and declining—grandparents. As she reconstructs how Anna and Armand braved overwhelming odds and how the knowledge her grandfather acquired at Nuremberg destroyed their relationship, Miranda wrestles with the legacy of trauma, the burden of history, and the complexities of memory. She also finds herself learning how not only to survive but to thrive—making a home in the village and falling in love.

With warmth, humor, and rich, evocative details that bring her grandparents’ outsize characters and their daily struggles vividly to life, A Fifty-Year Silence is a heartbreaking, uplifting love story spanning two continents and three generations.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The story is full of worldly drama—the Nuremberg war trials, a short but beautiful existence in the south of France—but it’s the minute family-history details that make the book truly delicious.”

    Glamour, Best New Books Coming Out in January

  • “This haunting, beautiful little mystery deftly shows just how long pain can linger through generations and what shining a light on the past can do to heal a family.”

    Winnipeg Free Press

  • “Meticulously researched and artfully constructed…a labor of love, infused with familial tenderness.”

    Jewish Daily Forward

  • “Eloquent and engrossing…Mouillot has imbibed her tale with the frisson of a detective story while gently introducing us to the charm and hidden pain of her extraordinary grandparents…A totally captivating journey that will keep you rapt from start to finish.”

    Australian Women’s Weekly

  • “Written with an almost poetic transcendence of time, place, and memory, this moving memoir chronicles an amazing circle of life. No fairy tale, it is as epic as the times in which Anna and Armand lived and the love they inspired.”


  • “Charming, understated…A wonderful evocation of the way that the Holocaust has haunted many generations.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “The corrosive effects of the Holocaust—upon those directly involved and generations thereafter—are illustrated vividly in this candid saga of familial love and misunderstanding, which will resonate with readers of World War II history as well as those who appreciate accounts of ancestral sleuthing.”

    Library Journal

  • “A moving family history researched with dedication and completed with a granddaughter’s love.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “As Mouillot upends her own life to investigate [her grandparents’], she begins to understand the lengths to which people will go to protect their fragile dignity and comes to recognize the power of memories that both comfort and torment wounded souls. A vibrant, earnest, and profound tribute.”


  • “The author reads her book with bright, sharp tones that share her excitement at spending time in her grandparents’ ancient stone house in France, which they purchased after surviving the Holocaust but never lived in. Mouillot’s voice grows sharper and more dramatic as she digs into the memories that haunt her family. In dramatic contrast, she gives her physician grandmother, Anna, a loud voice and Eastern European accent and her grandfather, Armand, once an interpreter during the Nuremberg trials, a high-brow British tone. As the story moves slowly from past to present, and back again, Mouillot’s narration lulls listeners through this tale of remembering.”


  • A Fifty-Year Silence is one of those exceedingly rare books that touches you deep down—page by page—through the rawness of its story and its sheer insight. The extraordinary quality of the prose, the elegance of the storytelling, and the genius with which Miranda Richmond Mouillot has laid down the twists and turns make this a book to treasure. It is a memoir that sings to us all.”

    Tahir Shah, author of The Caliph’s House

  • “Miranda Richmond Mouillot’s loving, suspenseful, and determined quest to uncover the mysterious wound that divides her family holds us fascinated in the intimate spaces where generations seek each other. She beautifully explores how time and memory challenge us all.”

    Leslie Maitland, author of Crossing the Borders of Time

  • “A keenly observed and poignant memoir of one young woman’s journey from North Carolina to the south of France, and from the present day into the dark spaces in the history of her family and of Europe.”

    Matti Friedman, author of The Aleppo Codex and winner of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature

  • A BookPage Top Pick for February 2015
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About the Author

Miranda Richmond Mouillot was born and raised in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. She graduated from Asheville High School and then from Harvard College, where she studied history and literature. She moved to France in 2004 to write A Fifty-Year Silence, intending to stay just a year but getting sidetracked by the writing process and a stonemason named Julien. And there she remains, living her happily ever after.