The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

Libraries are being ransacked. France is torn apart by war. A French librarian is determined to resist. Told through smuggled letters to an author, an ordinary librarian describes the brutal Nazi occupation of her small coastal village and the extraordinary measures she takes to fight back.” Goodreads

Mario Escobar Golderos has a degree in History, with an advanced studies diploma in Modern History. He has written numerous books and articles about the Inquisition, the Protestant Reformation, and religious sects. Of many previous titles: Auschwitz Lullaby and Children of the Stars

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“The Librarian of Saint-Malo tells the story of Jocelyn and Antoine Ferrec, a life full of love and literature.” Author, Mario Escobar, sweeps readers from Jocelyn and Antoine’s glorious wedding at the Cathedral of Saint-Vincent to the German invasion of Poland – both on September1, 1939. The enthralling accounts of survival and passive resistance are told through Jocelyn’s letters to author, Marcel Zola, who she is hoping will someday tell the story of how the citizens of Saint-Malo fought to defend and protect their beloved city and treasured books in the library. The German colonel in charge, Andreas von Aulock, ordered the “purge of the city’s bookstores and libraries to get rid of subversive writings as outlined in the famous Liste Otto.” As the librarian, Jocelyn also encounters Lt. Baumann and Hermann Von Choltiz, specialist in Medieval French literature.  Hermann has been sent to protect France’s cultural heritage by classifying the books in the Saint-Malo library.  Readers, be wary of the relationships that Jocelyn develops with these Germans. Mario Escobar weaves alarming comments and stunning descriptions of actual, true events with enough subtle hope to create suspense as to the German officers’ intentions.  Jocelyn’s quest also leads her to Yvonne Oddon and the Musée de l’Homme in Paris. Fans of Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will delight in the Bouquinistes, booksellers along the Seine, and the book club Jocelyn creates with the 7 requisite members, including a Count! Anthony Doer’s All the Light We Cannot See is another perfect pairing as this setting is before the bombing of Saint-Malo.

From the invasion of Saint-Malo by Germans in 1939 to the Allied forces’ arrival in 1944, Mario Escobar creates captivating descriptions of not only the beauty but also the magnitude of destruction to the “Little Jewel” on the coast of French Brittany. He deftly takes readers from doom and despair at the burned heaps of rubble and complete ruins to hope at the heart stopping, satisfying climax.

“The city had been collecting books for centuries. We were the soul and memory of Saint-Malo. I had to protect the library’s holdings…”  Readers everywhere are ever grateful for librarians such as Jocelyn and for Mario Escobar’s The Librarian of Saint-Malo.

Saint-Malo Cathedral Inside the Walled City-Site of Jocelyn’s Wedding

The Saint-Malo Cathedral or more precisely St Vincent of Saragosse Cathedral  (Cathédrale Saint-Vincent-de-Saragosse de Saint-Malo ) was at one time a Benedictine Abbey. Built in Romanesque style at the turn of the 12th century, the church’s choir then underwent changes in the 13th century making it gothic style. Transformations from Romanesque to Gothic to High Gothic and even Renaissance styles can be found here. In 1944 during a battle for the city, the cathedral was bombed and the choir section collapsed. It took over 20 years to make the repairs.

The Musee de l’Homme in Paris. Jocelyn visited Yvonne Oddon, one of France’s leading librarians, connected to the Resistance.

The Musée de l’Homme librarian and a pioneer of the French Resistance, Yvonne Oddon and her colleagues Boris Vildé and Anatole Lewitsky launched the French Resistance group that would come to be known as the Musée de l’Homme resistance network, and helped choose the name of the underground newspaper Resistance. https://www.museedelhomme.fr/en/yvonne-oddon-1902-1982-3923

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