Critically acclaimed when first published in France in 1946, and now in a new translation, this is a lightly fictionalized account of a true story of a Jewish family's desperate attempts to lie low in a Nazi-dominated World War II France
Having emigrated from Budapest and Warsaw respectively, Nathalie and Ladislas Gara originally came to Paris to seek the university educations that their Jewish religion barred them from in their home countries. However, in 1940, they found themselves once again fleeing from persecution, this time at the hands of the fledgling Vichy regime in France. The couple, with their daughter Claire, were among a group that eventually found precarious shelter in a village in the Ardèche, Saint-Boniface, taking advantage of the region's reputation as a land of refuge, which has seen it for generations taking in religious exiles amongst its folded hills and isolated farmsteads. Come the end of the war, the Garas published a thinly concealed account of their time as refugees. The village of Saint-Boniface itself takes center stage at a meeting of worlds which creates scenes by turn tragic and comic. The intellectual, artistic, and working classes, fleeing from the cities, clash with the rural population, and the resulting human stories, recounted with humor, satire, and pathos, lay bare the powers and the limitations of both groups.