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The Girl in the Blue Beret

3.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,026 Ratings  ·  426 Reviews
Inspired by the wartime experiences of her late father-in-law, award-winning author Bobbie Ann Mason has written an unforgettable novel about an American World War II pilot shot down in Occupied Europe.

When Marshall Stone returns to his crash site decades later, he finds himself drawn back in time to the brave people who helped him escape from the Nazis. He especially reca
Hardcover, 345 pages
Published June 28th 2011 by Random House
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Oct 31, 2011 Mandolin rated it did not like it
Shelves: given-up
Forced into retirement by his beloved airline, Marshall Stone has lost his purpose in life. His thoughts turn to long suppressed memories of World War II and his experiences after crashing a plane behind enemy lines. He remembers with gratitude the people who aided his escape from the Nazis and decides to retrace his steps through Belgium and France. According to the review, "Marshall’s search becomes a wrenching odyssey of discovery that threatens to break his heart—and also sets him ...more
Feb 22, 2013 Eilene rated it did not like it
I thought this book had an interesting premise. I think the French Resistance is a fascinating time in history, especially the role women played in the exploits--however, while I'm sure very factual, this book did not do it justice. There was a lot of people relaying what happened, instead of putting the reader in the moment. So, in the words of my creative writing professor, all tell, no show.

Which was a real shame, because this story had potential. Marshall is the main character, a veteran av
Jo Anne B
Aug 04, 2011 Jo Anne B rated it it was ok
I didn't like the main character Marshall and could not relate to his aviation career or involvement in war. The writing was good and that is what kept me interested plus I wanted to know what was so special about the girl in the blue beret.

Marshall's wife was dead and at the age of 60 he was retiring from flying. Flying was his passion and his life so he felt "like a caged bird." He left his adult children in charge of watching the house while he left for France to hopefully meet up with peopl
Sep 23, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing
There are lots of novels about WWII from lots of viewpoints. I was engrossed with this book because it took the seldom explored viewpoint of the airmen who were shot down in Nazi occupied Europe. During the course of the story you also get the story of a band of French Resistance that fought back by hiding and moving these downed airmen at great risk to themselves. This is a fictional story based on the true events in the life of the authors father-in-law. The ghosts of the main character, Marsh ...more
Rick Bylina
Jan 12, 2012 Rick Bylina rated it really liked it
History buffs looking for insights into the resistance and readers of literary fiction who like to read about protagonists searching for their emotional centerpiece will enjoy Bobbie Ann Mason's novel "The Girl in the Blue Beret". Ms. Mason spent considerable time and energy trying to bring alive the stepping-on-egg-shells existence of those who helped the allies in a time when resources were scarce, but courage abundant. She did a fine job though the on-page tension lags at times. Marshall peel ...more
Jul 26, 2012 Jane rated it liked it
Three and a half stars will represent my opinion better than just three stars. We listened to the novel on CD in the car and the somewhat breathless reading of the actor seemed over-the-top and has affected my rating. The story of a WWII aviator whose plane was shot down over Belgium and who was aided by the Resistance to at last return to England is based on the real life experiences of Mason's father-in-law. Mason researched the time very carefully and in my opinion tried to insert far too man ...more
Aug 01, 2011 Heidi rated it liked it
Marshall Stone is turning 60 and his life is in a state of upheaval. Forced to retire from being a pilot, a job he loves, he is also still dealing with the loss of his wife. With his two children grown, he feels that this is the time to return to the place where his B-17 crash-landed during World War II. He is particularly motivated to find some of the brave individuals who helped him along the way.

When I heard of this book, I was very excited to read it. I love historical fiction, particularly
Aug 21, 2012 Ellen rated it it was ok
The premise is a good one - a retired airline pilot who, as a WWII aviator had landed a B17 in occupied France and had been rescued by the French Resistance has returned to France to reconnect with some of the French citizens who had sheltered him and safely gotten him back to England. The problem is with the character development, or lack thereof. Despite spending at least half of the book relating the thoughts of the protagonist, the author has failed to create the man. I still do not have a c ...more
May 08, 2014 Christina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war-stories
I am conflicted in my feelings for this book. If I could give it 2 1/2 stars, I probably would, but in lieu of that I shall round it up. Some readers will adore this book, others will dislike it. I am caught in between.

I'm not sure what drove me to keep reading. The first half was dull I my opinion, and in the rest, there were instances where it dragged and my attention faltered. In the beginning, I found the descriptions of flying planes interesting, perhaps because aviation is a somewhat forei
Apr 08, 2013 Wendy rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, wwii, audio-book, 2013
I really liked that this story is based on the real life experiences of the author's father-in-law. I also liked the idea of an American airman rescued by members of the French Resistance and helped back to safety via the Pyrenees Mountains decided to go back 40 years later and find out what happened to those brave individual who risked their lives to save him. The story is well constructed and engaging.
Mar 17, 2015 Michael rated it it was ok
The story is about a WW2 pilot who, having been shot down in his B-17 bomber, crashes onto a field in Belgium and is helped by the Resistance movement to work his way through and out of France to Spain. His escape from the Germans was successful and when he returned to civilian life after the war he became a pilot of commercial airliners, eventually flying the Boeing 747's until his forced retirement at the age of 60. Now retired he decides to return to the original crash site to see if he can f ...more
Sep 19, 2014 Megan rated it did not like it
--FirstReads Giveaway--

Okay, two important points: I received this book via a Goodreads giveaway ages ago. Like, several years ago. When I received it, I was thrilled: the title was evocative and the description seemed promising. I love me some historical romance, so I had a lot of high hopes about 'The Girl in the Blue Beret.'

Unfortunately, I was so put off by Mason's writing style that I could not get past the first 100 pages. I didn't finish it, and though I hope to one day tackle it again,
Aug 08, 2013 Ali rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This book would have been better had it been solely about Annette's experiences during WWII. I liked her, she was a fascinating character. She was spunky and brave and feisty and terrified, and always remembered to treasure her humanity.

Compare that to Marshall, who spent most of the book whining about how nobody in France wanted to talk to him about the war, which was probably an amazingly traumatic period for most of them. I didn't like Marshall, clearly. I respect that the author tried to ma
Jul 15, 2011 Stephanie rated it really liked it
This book tells the story of Marshall Stone, an American pilot whose plane was shot down over Belgium during World War II. He has just been forced to retire from as an airline pilot and decides to go back to the scene of the crash and find some of the families and people who helped him escape through France and into Spain.

When reading this book, I split it into two parts. The first part I would give three stars and the second four. The first part was so jumbled, it was jarring to read. It jumped
June Ahern
Aug 12, 2013 June Ahern rated it it was amazing
Having grown up on WWII war stories this book is very accurate in events and sentiments. My parents and older siblings were in Glasgow during that war and lived through the bombings of the town and the tremendous losses of family and friends. In detail they would tell of the frightening nights of running to the bomb shelters with babies in their arms, of the lack of food and other supplies and of their anger and hate of the Germans. This story of a man returning after forty odd years to France s ...more
Paul Cook
Jan 13, 2014 Paul Cook rated it it was amazing
On his retirement from commercial aviation, former WWII bomber pilot Marshall Stone visits France in search of some of the people in the French Resistance who, after he crash-landed his B-17 in 1944, helped him avoid the Nazis and escape eventually to England. The girl of the title was, during the war, among a number of schoolgirls who, typically unsuspected by the occupying Germans, helped guide stranded American aviators to hiding places and workable routes out of France.

Immediately after the
May 31, 2013 Simone rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2013, france
In a nutshell this is the story of Marshall, a retired pilot in 1980, who goes back to France to try and find the people who sheltered him during World War 2.

The publisher’s summary refers to his search as “a wrenching odyssey of discovery that threatens to break his heart—and also sets him on a new course for the rest of his life”. Huh? Are we talking about the same book??

I didn’t like it. I just didn’t “buy in” to the characters - and therefore the story. I could not relate to Marshall (the ma
Jul 20, 2012 Stacy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Deborah Robson
Feb 03, 2012 Deborah Robson rated it really liked it
An intriguing use of family history as the basis for a novel, and very interesting in its perspective on the French resistance movement. I enjoyed reading it and found it useful as a book to read in small sections before bed: sufficiently compelling without demanding that I continue. It's difficult to balance careful research (which this work appears to have in abundance) with the emotional dynamics of storytelling. In this case, the narrative feels like a deftly built container to hold an under ...more
Jul 02, 2011 Ed rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: historical novel or war romance fans
I read an ARC sent by a kind Goodreads member. I loved reading Bobbie Ann Mason's In Country earlier this year. This novel is somewhat different. She explains in the Afterword how she based the novel, in part, on her father-in-law's wartime experiences.

I won't rehash the plot, just to say Marshall Stone, a retired American pilot at age 60, returns to France to hunt up his rescuers from back when his B-17 crash landed during the Second World War.

Well, I'm a big sucker for anything re: WW II, an
 Barb Bailey
Oct 14, 2014 Barb Bailey rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014, wwii
This story is about a WWII pilot who had to ditch his plane in France. Years later after retiring from a major US airline company, he decides to return to France to find some of the people who helped him. Although this book is based on a true event,and the premsis is good, this story is very slow. Marshall is not interesting,he is not a go getter and he relies one everyone else to help him .Also he repeatedly has the same flashbacks which makes the story boring. Abandoned after 212 pages bc I do ...more
Aug 17, 2011 Stacy rated it it was ok
This book was SLOW MOVING. The name is "The Girl in the Blue Beret". But what it should have been called was "The Older Ex-Pilot in France" because there was hardly anything about the girl in the blue beret. I feel that more time should have been spent on her; you only really get to hear about her or her story at the end. Hmmm....and I struggle with this review because I know the author wanted to kind of make you wonder about her and she dangled a carrot or two here and there to try and keep the ...more
Feb 04, 2012 Lauren rated it liked it
I enjoyed this gentle, low-key, slow-moving novel. It isn't remarkable in conventional terms--plot, character, setting--but Mason conveys something authentic about survivors of the "Good War," about those in the "Greatest Generation." She gets right the reticence, the sense of honor and chivalry, the innocence. That is no small feat.

The main character is not real likeable, but even so, he retains that authenticity of the era. There were a few minor details that seemed deliberately placed to draw
Aug 01, 2011 Debbie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be frustrating. I did not like how the author jumped around between time periods and characters. Usually this does not bother me, but this author did it too abruptly. The story was interesting, but I found the main character to be annoying and I didn't like him. I also thought that the way the characters talked seemed forced and unrealistic. The story follows a man who was a fighter pilot during World War II. His plane crashes in Belgium. He is then helped by various French ...more
Suzanne Auckerman
Aug 16, 2011 Suzanne Auckerman rated it really liked it
Story is about a pre 9/11 pilot that has to retire when he reaches a certain age, but was not happy about it. He is a widow and doesn't really know what to do with himself. He was a pilot in WWII and was shot down over France. He decides to go back and learn about the people in the Resistance movement that helped him and many others to get back to England.

The idea for the novel came from experiences that the author's father-in-law had in WWII and it very well done.

The ending is abrupt, but the
Michelle Mormul
Jun 10, 2015 Michelle Mormul rated it it was amazing
What a surprise! I picked it off the shelf on a whim, not having any recommendations and it turned out to be a very touching history novel. There were some great surprises 3/4 of the way through.
Steve Lindahl
Nov 29, 2014 Steve Lindahl rated it really liked it
The Girl in the Blue Beret by Bobbie Ann Mason is the story of a World War II vet who returns to France to find the people who helped him when his plane was shot down. It's the story of an aspect of the French resistance I knew little about prior to reading this book.

I found it interesting that many women who have reviewed The Girl in the Blue Beret, were put off by Marshall Stone, the main character, by the way he seemed to move on quickly after the death of his wife. His lack of mourning disre
Michelle Ule
Jan 25, 2013 Michelle Ule rated it it was ok
I got this book from the library after several months wait--I'd read about it in the Blas Bleu catelogue.

The idea was interesting to me, but I felt Mason took WAY TOO LONG to actually introduce me to the girl in the blue beret. Far too much telling, it just never seemed to really get anywhere, in my opinion.

I enjoyed the parts where the narrator reflected on the accident in which his B-17 came down in a field, but felt it was way too circuitous and never really ended up anywhere.
Jina Howell-Forbes
There is nothing wrong with this story of a man who was a bomber pilot in WWII. The book tells his story as he is aged out of his job as an airline pilot and decides to go back to the place where his plane was shot down behind enemy lines to see if he can find the people who aided his escape in 1944. The premise is promising, but the book plods along at an agenizing pace. Add to that, the main character is painfully taciturn and emotionally crippled. He was a type of man who was common to his ge ...more
It was good, but I am glad it's over.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Jan 09, 2016 12:54AM  
  • April in Paris
  • Wings: A Novel of World War II Flygirls
  • Camp Nine
  • The Last Time I Saw Paris
  • The Things We Cherished
  • Louise's War (Louise Pearlie, #1)
  • A Man in Uniform: A Novel
  • Jasmine Nights
  • Madame Bovary's Daughter
  • The Green Shore
  • The Oriental Wife
  • The Emperor of Lies
  • World War II London Blitz Diary, Volume 1
  • The Welsh Girl
  • All Our Worldly Goods
  • Unexploded
  • The Sandalwood Tree
  • Heart of Deception
Bobbie Ann Mason has won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the American Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her books include In Country and Feather Crowns. She lives in Kentucky.
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