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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Time of Miracles

A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux is a moving historical fiction novel set in the former Soviet Union in the 1990s. This novel was translated from French to English by Y. Maudet and received the Batchelder Award for 2011. The twenty-year-old narrator, Blaise Fortune, begins his story by telling the reader how he came to France and that he may have finally found the special person named Gloria who he hasn’t seen since he was twelve-years-old. He flashes back to his earliest memory at the age of seven to explain to the reader why Gloria is so important to him. Blaise, then known as Koumail, is a refugee in the Republic of Georgia being raised by Gloria. She often tells him the heartbreaking story of how he came to her. Gloria always starts the story by explaining how she fell in love with Zemzem, a young man who came to work in her father’s orchard. She tells him about a disastrous train derailment and how his wounded French mother handed a baby, Blaise, to her and asked that she keep him safe. She also explains why they became refugees staying one step ahead of the rebels. In speaking of that time, she reveals each gift given to her by her loved ones for their treacherous journey…all but Zemzem’s precious gift. Their goal is to reach France and find Blaise’s real mother…it is a passage that takes years. This is a heart-felt story about what many refugees endure in trying to find their way to a permanent home in a war-torn country. Although I predicted the twist at the end of the story early on, I still thought it was worthy of the many accolades it is receiving.

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