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A slender book -- in page-length and plot -- Another November tells the story of a pair of schoolmates and their women in the French city of Pau and of the effects of WWII on their lives. In particular, the narrator focuses on the fat, rich Charles Merlin and the compromise he makes when the Nazis take over. On visiting Charles at his family mansion one day, the Villa Rapallo, he discovers that two German officers are there for lunch:
Charles got up. He attempted to open the door as little as possible, and I had the impression he was trying to make himself extremely thin in order to squeeze through before closing it firmly behind him. I would have liked to make some definitive pronouncement, but I couldn't figure out what. I ended up saying: "You're occupied...," without even realizing the double entendre of the expression."
That strikes us as a rather tame acknowledgment of the reality of France's collaboration with the Nazis, but the book was published in 1986 as Klaus Barbie went on trial and the French were finally having to face up to the ugly truths that DeGaulle had tried sweeping under the rug after the war. Indeed, it's altogether too gentle and bloodless.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (C)

  

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French Literature
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-INFO: Alice Kaplan (NY State Writers Institute)

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