The Girl in the Blue Beret
By 1944, Lt. Marshall Stone, 23, has participated in nine successful bombing missions as co-pilot of a B-17. On his tenth and final run over German-occupied territory, the bomber is shot down. Stone avoids capture with the help of the local Resistance.
Years later, Capt. Marshall Stone, airline pilot, reaches the mandatory retirement age. Still fit at 60, still a good pilot, he loses the job he loves not long after losing his wife. At loose ends, Stone decides to go back to Europe to reconnect with those who aided him in 1944, including a fearless young girl who guided him across Paris.
Stone locates most of his rescuers, not without difficulty. Members of the Resistance led many fallen aviators to safety, in some cases at great personal cost, and each person remembers the rescue operation differently. As the American reexamines his experience from a different perspective, he learns to appreciate the courage of men and women who endured the long years of war on the ground.
His one-time guide, now a lovely, mature woman, leads a comfortable life – but one shaped by memories of a privation unknown to Stone. They enjoy being together. Are they falling in love? Can he understand her without having shared her past? Can Stone match her courage by re-creating himself so late in life? Before committing herself, she has to know.
The Girl in the Blue Beret is an impressive novel. Mason writes with confidence about integrity, memory, love, the war in Europe – and a likeable man. Her prose is straightforward, sometimes graceless but, except for some slangy diary excerpts, it suits Marshall Stone. Recommended for all historical fiction readers.