A High and Hidden Place

Written by Michele Claire Lucas
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

On June 11, 1945, a child clutches an iron pot in the ruins of her home in provincial France. She’s reared in a convent, under the watchful and loving guidance of her “angel” nun, who keeps secrets and replaces her true history with a more palatable one—that her parents died in an influenza epidemic. The truth is that all of the girl’s relatives have perished in the worst Nazi atrocity in France; that she is Christine of Oradour.

Focusing on the years 1944, 1963, and 1976, Christine’s story is told as she recovers some of her memories and searches out who she was. The story switches from her first person explorations to a harrowing third-person account of the last day in the life of her community. Even those who died most grievously are given dignity in death by this gifted author. As Christine discovers the truth, her caretakers advise her to “live to the full the life that was spared.” The crucial question for this young woman becomes: how? Unforgettable characters like Jewish sisters haunted by their own past, the caretaker of Oradour, and Christine’s courtly Irish American suitor help her towards her obligation.

Lyrically told, A High and Hidden Place is a story haunted by death, but full of grace. Highly recommended.