Historical memory

Bobbie Ann Mason moves beyond the small scope of her incredible short stories about people in the Middle South to write a novel on a much larger scale: the aftermath of World War II and the war’s effect on both the American flyers who fought and the French citizens who survived the occupation. Marshall Stone was a 23-year-old B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber pilot on his 10th mission when they were shot down over Belgium. Four decades later, upon his retirement, he begins to piece together what happened—the rescue by local people (assistance that cost one man his life) and hiding in occupied Paris. In The Girl in the Blue Beret, Stone reaches out to the people who helped save his life, and discovers what the war was like for them. Mason writes with empathy and rich language, transforming what might have been a midlife crisis into a middle-aged re-evaluation of life that is full of promise for the future.