The Light From the Dark Side of the Moon

The Light From the Dark Side of the Moon

by Norman Gautreaux

Overview: A remembrance of love in a time of war. 92-year-old Henry Budge defies most of his family by escaping a rehab hospital to make his way to France for the ceremonies of the 70th observance of D-Day. Before he dies, he hopes to at last address a grief he has allowed to simmer for decades and to rekindle memories of Élodie Bedier, the French Resistance fighter with whom he fell in love 70 years earlier, as a way of confronting his grief at losing her.

During his return journey, he relives events of 1944: being wounded as he parachutes into Normandy; falling in love with Élodie who nurses him back to health; fighting the Germans alongside her and her resistance companions; and finally abandoning the war to rescue a group of children from the Holocaust, choices that leave Henry at risk of a firing squad for desertion and Élodie vulnerable to fatal condemnation from her compatriots. When he arrives back in France, Henry makes several shocking discoveries that shake the very foundations of the memories he’s had of Élodie all these years and he is left to wonder about the love he has had for Élodie: what rests on true memory vs. what is based on countless imagined conversations over the decades?

Carole Zwicker (06/18/19) The Light From the Dark Side of the Moon is my new favorite Norman G. Gautreau novel. It is one of those books that seem to end all too quickly. Reading this novel is pure pleasure due to the simple beauty of the prose. This is about Henry Budge, a 92-year-old WWII veteran who was a paratrooper in France in 1944. The story moves from present-day Boston to France during the war. Henry leaves an American rehabilitation hospital to travel to D-Day ceremonies, 70 years after he was last there. He wants to honour the memory of Élodie, a French resistance fighter he has loved most of his life. Henry's memories inform the reader about what happened during the war: the two lovers fought against the German onslaught and saved many Jewish children from the Holocaust by bringing them to safety on foot across the French countryside. After all this time, Élodie has remained in Henry's heart. This is a beautiful story about two people finding love during some of the most horrible circumstances ever. Highly recommended.
Rating: ****

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