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A total disappointment.
on November 7, 2014
Caroline Moorehead is an excellent writer whose book "A train in Winter" was highly praised. I read it with great interest.
However with her new book "Village of Secrets", Moorehead seriously damages her reputation as a reliable writer. To start with, her title should have been "Villages of Secrets"!
Where is her historical scholarship? Who helped her with fact-checking for even simple details like the correct spelling of people she mentions? Why didn't she consult the internet? Her text is loaded with egregious errors and personal sarcastic judgments. Her distortions go from some historical facts to the most trivial little stories.
Yes, Moorehead writes very well and her research is extensive judging by the unusually large list of books in her bibliography...yet her errors are the proof she did not read them all, including the most recent and important ones. Yes, she honors deserving people like Pastor Daniel Curtet or Simone Mairesse. But these people were recognized years ago! Strangely enough, one wonders whether she has a special contact with the world of the dead when she thanks for their interview Leon Eyraud who died in 1953 and Madame Marguerite Roussel who passed in 1996.
There are always several sides to a story. It is regrettable and sad that Moorehead fell under the spell of a disgruntled crowd and some jealous people. The 12 Plateau Vivairais-Lignon villages and all the different types of rescuers, the nonviolent resistance and the armed resistance have not been forgotten in the small WWII museum that opened in LE Chambon - sur - Lignon in 2013. Yet this disgruntled group refused to join the project and did everything possible to kill it.. They even convinced Moorehead that the very capable Mayor Eliane WAuquiez-Motte who raised the funds and organized the professional planning deserved to be demeaned!
You don't have to read Village of Secrets: go straight to the Foreword and especially the Afterword to get a general impression of the tone of the book. If Moorehead is absolutely right in praising important people such as Charles Guillon, Oscar Rozowsky and Marc Boegner ( all recognized years ago), she did not need to trash other important people such as the ethicist ( and not the historian) Philip Hallie who in 1979 put Le Chambon -sur-Lignon on the map, or the excellent documentary producer Pierre Sauvage who describes his personal story and the reason why he was allowed to live as a Jewish baby born during the Holocaust, and finally two of the several idealists and catalists of the effective nonviolent resistance, Pastors Edouard Theis and Andre Trocme.
I ought to know: I am Trocme's daughter and I grew up In Le Chambon during WW II.I also had Caroline Moorehead as my house guest in the United States and I gladly let her interview me. She was friendly.
I now understand better why total silence followed her visit...