An Ordinary Exodus

Roger Bichelberger, Author, Toby Garfit, Translator Lion Publishing Corporation $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-7459-2101-3
This novel about the effects of WW II on a rural French community with a unique ethnic heritage won the Prix Roland Dorgeles for its contribution to international understanding and peace. The quietly patriotic residents of Lasting-en-Lorraine, near the German border, speak a German patois. At the beginning of the war the entire village is evacuated to a town on the northern coast of France--a wrenching experience for the many who do not speak French. The novel follows the fortunes of Angela, a pregnant young woman whose lover is sent to the front and killed, and her half-witted younger brother, Manuel. The Lorraine community is stunned when Manuel breaks into a church ciborium and devours the eucharistic host. The priest, however, far from being outraged, suggests that Manuel has found Christ. This simple newfound faith becomes a ruling force in Manuel's life and also for the villagers, who come to regard him as a saint. When the Lorraine is annexed by the Nazis, the villagers are again relocated--this time returned to their native village. Manuel acts as a moral counterbalance to the evil around him, and even effects a sort of uneasy reconciliation between the local Nazi government and the villagers. The novel's tragic but uplifting resolution comes with the liberation of Lasting-en-Lorraine by the Americans. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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