No Tears in Ireland: A Memoir

Sylvia Couturie, Author Free Press $24 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7432-0193-3
Although there have been many memoirs from every theater of World War II, Frenchwoman Couturi claims a unique perspective. Separated at age 11 from her aristocratic parents while on summer holiday in 1939, Couturi spent the next four years trapped in a remote corner of the coast of Ireland. While Couturi had the company of her younger sister, she unfortunately remained under the care of Wally, an uneducated Irish-born Catholic nanny who severely limited the two girls' access to all outsiders, especially to their parents' friends among the Protestant Irish gentry. Only when a storm engulfed their barren cottage and nearby locals rescued them did the Couturi girls' horizons broaden. In rather Dickensian style (appropriately, Dickens is one of the few authors Wally lets Couturi read), Couturi details her childhood oppression as well as the pluck that led her to attend the local secretarial school--certainly not the expected route for this girl of privilege, who had lived in a chateau and had her own pony. While Couturi 's response to her very specific wartime situation is admirable, her account lacks satisfying emotional detail, especially when the girls finally return to France. Couturi notes that her sister was even more affected by the domineering nanny, but doesn't expand much on the observation. Meanwhile, Couturi 's parents remain aloof and unexamined, an odd void in what could have been a more fully realized and involving story. Photos. (Feb. 15)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!