Book Review: A Fifty-Year Silence

Today I have a memoir book review for you! I love memoirs, so I was excited to request Miranda Richmond Mouillot’s A Fifty-Year Silence from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

A Fifty-Year Silence... a book review on

Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

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 for 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.

And as usual, my five point review:

  • I love historical fiction and non-fiction… I always joke that World War II was my favorite war, but I think that’s simply how accessible it has been for much of my life. Both of my grandfathers as well as other relatives served in the war, and I was introduced to the war in elementary school through books like Number the Stars, Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl, The Endless Steppe, and many, many others. So to find that this memoir deals with the life [and secrets] of the author’s grandparents during and after World War II was incredibly intriguing. And the beginning was fascinating! The author does a fabulous job of pulling the readers into her life and her grandparents’ stories. There’s something magical about Europe, and France in particular, and the author captures the place beautifully.
  • As I read on though, my interest in the book fizzled out and I actually ended putting it down for a time. There just was so much speculation and not enough facts. I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but while I appreciate the author’s book in that it memorializes her grandparents, her theories are just not compelling enough for me to believe. That does not in any way detract from what she does know–I’m just not sure I could come to the same conclusions about how and what they survived. This also does not detract from the way the author tells her love story, her life story. As a standalone story, her life/her love is pretty neat too. :) Her grandparents’ lives are awesome too–her grandmother became a doctor during the middle of the 20th century in a time when many women didn’t even go to college. Her grandfather was an interpreter at the Nuremberg Trials in Germany after the war.
  • Miranda Richmond Mouillot has a lovely writing style. I’m not sure if she plans to write other books, but her lyrical prose draws in readers like nothing else can… making a non-fiction story read like a classic, lovely novel. Again, the setting of the book in FRANCE definitely helps but still–her writing style and word choice is gorgeous. Instead of being on my couch in Nashville, I was in a medieval stone house in an a village older than time. Can it get any better? Ohhh, France.
  • The biggest problem I had with the book aside from the lack of information was that, not to discount anyone’s survival from the Holocaust, her grandparents were not in concentration camps. They were not captured and didn’t seem to have many [any?] close calls either. They were Jewish. They had to flee, but they survived. And that’s incredible and I don’t want to discount their story or others like it. However, in some tiny ways, saying individuals like that survived the Holocaust is a shaky subject, and may even be one that I can’t take too hard of a stand against since I don’t have that first-person/familial experience. In some ways that discounts the stories of those who did survive concentration camps. It just, to me, softens those survival stories in some ways. I’m not sure of a better way to  frame their experience besides “Holocaust survivors” but I just think there has to be some other category. I do understand the perspective of Mouillot on this though.
  • Overall, I enjoyed reading the story of Mouillot and her grandparents–their stories of life and love and survival were incredible, passionate, and told beautifully. Reading about the animosity [to put it lightly] between her grandparents was hard. I can’t imagine not talking to Ben ever again like her grandparents did, or the effects that would have on our larger families. This book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting but it was lovely, even if hard to read at times and controversial in terminology too.

Disclosure: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Blogging for Books and the publisher, Crown Publishers, for the chance to read this great book! 

Red Cabbage, Raisin, and Apple Slaw

This easy red cabbage slaw is sweet and crunchy, bursting with raisins, apples, and carrots. It’s creamy and tangy so everyone will love it!

Red Cabbage, Raisin, and Apple Slaw | thepajamachef.comI don’t really like the word “slaw.” Or the words “cole slaw.” It just sounds… unappetizing to me. But when you need a cold veggie side dish for summer picnics or barbecue pork, or just a normal weeknight dinner, it’s just really the best choice. You can make it ahead and it’s good in the fridge for up to a week too! And this slaw [shudder!] tastes really, really, really good. So that helps too. :) I’m so picky about cole slaw, besides the name. The taste is super important to me. I don’t like it to be too creamy [like my dad prefers] or too vinegary… but rather, something in the middle. Like this recipe! The dressing for this red cabbage based slaw is creamy AND tangy. I used mayo, Greek yogurt, and sour cream for optimal creaminess along with a hint of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice for tang. Perfect!

Red Cabbage, Raisin, and Apple Slaw | thepajamachef.comBesides the taste of the dressing, a great slaw to me has to have some sweet elements. The more the merrier, I think! This slaw also features raisins and apples and carrots for tons of sweetness. The perfect blend. :) My slaw isn’t quite as pretty as traditional cole slaws because the holes of my circa-1980 food processor are kinda wonky, so if you take the time to slice a head of cabbage your slaw will look MUCH better than mine. Take a look at the original recipe and you’ll see what I mean. But looks aside, this slaw is fantastic and is sure to be a staple in my home for many summers to come. Enjoy! Happy Labor Day weekend!

one year ago: Healthy Crumb Topped Zucchini Bread
two years ago: Pumpkin Coconut Soup
three years ago: Chocolate Mousse

four years ago: Pumpkin Granola
five years ago: The BESTEST Pizza Sauce Ever + A Pizza How-To

Red Cabbage, Raisin, and Apple Slaw

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Print

slightly adapted from Budget Bytes


  • 1/3 cup mayonaise
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small head purple cabbage [about 1.5 pounds]
  • 2 large carrots, peeled
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored
  • 1/2 cup raisins [I used a mix of regular and golden]


In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, yogurt, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, and pepper for the dressing. Set aside.

Use a food processor or a sharp knife to shred the cabbage into thin strips and place in a large bowl. Grate carrots and apple, then toss with cabbage. Pour dressing over vegetables, then gently toss until combined.

Slaw is best within the first day or so, but lasts in the fridge up to one week.


Book Review: Keepers of the Covenant

This book review is a wee bit tardy but here it is! Find out all about Lynn Austin’s Keepers of the Covenant.

Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin | a book review on #reading

A description of the book from the publisher:

In Their Darkest Hour, Where Would Hope Be Found?

In one life-changing moment, the lives of the exiles in Babylon are thrown into despair when a decree from the king’s palace calls for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman, and child throughout the empire in less than one year.

Ezra, a quiet but brilliant scholar, soon finds himself called upon to become the leader of his people. Forced to rally an army when all his training has been in the Torah, he struggles to bring hope in a time of utter despair, when dreams of the future–of family and love–seem impossible.

In Keepers of the Covenant, acclaimed novelist Lynn Austin weaves together the struggles and stories of both Jews and Gentiles, creating a tapestry of faith and doubt, love and loss. Here, the Old Testament comes to life, demonstrating the everlasting hope displayed in God’s unwavering love for His people.  

As usual, my five point review:

  • It took me so long to read and review this book because I didn’t realize it was the second book in The Restoration Chronicles series until after I had received it! Whoops! The first book, Return to Me, was great. I couldn’t put it down. Unfortunately, this book, for me, wasn’t quite as compelling and was too long. It may have just been that it was hard to get into, but I never got that must-not-put this-book-down feeling here. But you might love it!
  • Regardless, this still was a well written book. Lynn Austin is a great author and I have enjoyed much of her historical fiction (especially that set in the Civil War and WWII eras). The plot centers around the Biblical books of Ezra and Esther, so the time of Jewish captivity. Biblical fiction is just not my favorite, but since I do like Lynn Austin I thought I’d give this book a try.
  • The way that Lynn Austin told this story was easily the best part of the book. Her writing style and heart comes through so well in this book! When reading Biblical fiction or watching Biblical movies (not that I do that very often… but churches do show them for things from time to time), I find it important that the story be compelling (so as to not further the notion that the Bible is boring) while not adding too much to the text. There has to be a balance between making the times come alive and not assuming too much. I think this book (and series) do a good job at helping readers understand how life might have been like during this period of history. Lynn Austin does use scripture often, so that helps with its authenticity.
  • Perhaps one of the reasons why this book wasn’t my favorite was that there was a lack of energy and story. Some characters I expected to be more exciting(?) just weren’t, like Devorah (Deborah). Other parts just seemed somewhat detailed and tedious, and while I don’t have anything against long books, this was just hard to power through.
  • Overall, I have mixed feelings on this book. Since it is based on Biblical history, I don’t want to say it’s bad… and it’s not. However, this genre isn’t my favorite and compared to the first book in the series, this one just didn’t hold my attention as well. It’s worth the read to learn more about this portion of Biblical history for sure. There are lots of good reviews for this book on Goodreads so I may be in the minority on this book! As I said previously, there are other Lynn Austin books that I love so don’t dismiss this author because of me! I hate writing less than glowing reviews, but I do want to be honest. Thanks for reading!

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

What I’m Into (July and August 2015)

I didn’t get to writing this post for the month of July… and now August is over. CRAZY!

What’s Been Happening

I started off July with a week long staycation. Ben and I enjoyed a lot of good food in Nashville, including breakfast at the Loveless Cafe [which is less than 10 minutes from our house btw] and getting these free reusable travel cups from Dunkin’ Donuts. These cups come with 99 cent refills through the end of August… so we’ve been going a lil Dunkin’ crazy. Ha! We also picked blueberries and blackberries. So good!

Ben started his second year teaching. I helped him decorate his classroom… bulletin boards aren’t my strength. :)

August brought tons of traveling and visitors. Here’s how it happened! The first weekend of the month brought my parents to town on their way to vacation. The follow weekend, I went to a one-day library conference at Indiana University Kokomo and saw a bunch of friends from grad school and my hometown, as well as my cute nephew. Then, my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew stayed with us on their way home from vacation. FINALLY, I headed back to Indiana for my grandpa’s 94th birthday party! This past weekend was spent at home, no traveling or visitors.

School’s starting up at my university so things have been crazy there but I’m excited to see the students again! Fall is coming soon…and I can’t wait!

What I’m Reading

July and August 2015 Readings | What I'm Into |

As of the time I wrote this post, I finished 21 books in July and August, with a few more on tap. You can check out my reviews of the books above on Goodreads. On the blog, I reviewed The Wiregrass; it’s a great read if you’re looking for a good book! I also finally read [listened to] Anne of Green Gables! I started that book as a kid but never finished it… it’s so fun to listen to and I want to read the whole series now! :)

I’ve also made a point to save some of the great articles I read online to share here… so in no real order you should check out these articles:

What I’ve Been Cooking

Lots of peanut noodles with this sauce. Kale salad with sauteed potatoes and fried eggs. Sounds weird, but it’s so good. I made it a mish mash of these two recipes. I’m sure I’ve made other things, but I can’t really recall now… ha!

What’s on the Blog

My most popular July recipe was Turkey Sloppy Joes. Mmm!

Turkey Sloppy Joes | an easy, healthy meal that everyone will love! |

In August, everyone loved the Zucchini Apple Walnut Muffins. Me too!

Zucchini Apple Walnut Muffins for #secretrecipeclub | find the recipe for these healthy 'n delicious muffins on

Most popular recipes from the archive included: Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake, Buffalo Pretzels, and Funfetti Cookies, as usual. :)

What were you into in July and August?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.