Seasons of the Moon

Written by Julien Aranda Roland Glasser (trans.)
Review by G. J. Berger

In 1929, Paul Vertune is born into a poor farm family on France’s North Atlantic coast. Seasons of The Moon follows the seasons of Paul’s life, told in the first person, until his funeral in 2009. Paul’s father has no use for him, but Paul is his mother’s favorite of four children. Father dies early, and Paul’s oldest brother takes on Father’s role. Germany invades France and occupies the region. Paul yearns to become a sailor and escape a life of boring toil on the farm. He falls in love with a local girl. A humane German officer both saves Paul from getting shot and tells Paul about the daughter he left behind in Germany.

Paul marries the local lass and finds work as a stevedore and then as the lowest hand aboard ocean-going ships. He sets out to find the German officer’s daughter. Through dangers and challenges, Paul follows his deepest instincts, helps others as he can, and maintains both a happy disposition and a positive outlook.

Through Paul’s reflections, Aranda imparts his philosophy of life, of relationships, and chance encounters on the journey. Aranda’s literary prose, translated from French, fits the story and characters. Aranda’s main challenge is to present the fullness of Vertune’s eighty years in slightly more than 200 pages. Parts of the novel succeed, but some important events and times, such as the German occupation of rural France and Paul’s pursuits as a crewman while juggling his family obligations, are not fully realized and will leave some readers wanting a fuller, richer story.