Alert
Close

Get free help preparing your taxes from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Find a location

Highlights

Open

Bob Dylan Talks!
Caucasian couple looking at a laptop computer together

Horoscope

Pisces - AARP Horoscope

Look at what your future holds if your birthday is between Feb. 19 & March 20

CONTESTS & SWEEPS

AARP Superstar Contest

Sing for a chance to win $5,000! Enter AARP’s Superstar 2015 Contest!
See Official Rules

Win an ARRP Real Pad Tablet - Tribute to an Ancestor Contest

2015 LIFE@50+ MIAMI

Renew for 3 and attend Life at 50+ for free

Most Popular

Viewed

The Girl in the Blue Beret

A WWII pilot confronts his past in Bobbie Ann Mason’s fact-based story

Girl In The Green Beret Book review-World War II Boeing B17, American Flying Fortress

A World War II Boeing B17, American flying fortress, circa 1945. — Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Slowly, parallels emerge between The Girl in the Blue Beret and In Country, Mason’s deeply felt novel featuring an adrift and disillusioned Vietnam vet, Emmett Smith. Marshall, though outwardly successful, feels defeated by his wartime experience too — in particular his failure to save the Dirty Lily. No matter that Emmet was vilified when he returned from Vietnam, whereas Marshall was embraced; both men have been damaged. But both find redemption once they fully confront the demons of the past.

Bobbie Ann Mason never gets fully inside the heads of her Blue Beret characters. Perhaps she felt hamstrung by her desire to honor her father-in-law’s extraordinary story. Or maybe it’s because she’s so far removed from her literary comfort zone — rural Kentucky, where she was raised and which she captured so vividly in her early work.

Still, there is plenty to admire, and enjoy, in The Girl in the Blue Beret. Here, for example, is Mason on Marshall’s passion for flying: “He loved racing down the runway…easing back the yoke, feeling the wings lifting. A plane wanted to fly; takeoffs were its natural bent. You trusted yourself to the machine. You were the machine.” About his barely suppressed rage at being forced from his job, she writes, “Retirement would be like the enforced passivity he had endured during the war, after the crash landing. Then, he was a caged bird.”

Especially suspenseful — and harrowing — is the description of the Dirty Lily’s final flight. Indeed, The Girl in the Blue Beret is a page-turner, filled with sudden reverses and narrow escapes. It is also an act of remembrance and a tribute — not only to Allied airmen like the author’s father-in-law, but to the members of the French Resistance. Given the degree of Vichy France’s collaboration with the Nazis, it’s gratifying to be reminded of the true French patriots who showed such valor in the face of unfathomable evil.

Evelyn Renold is a writer and editorial consultant in New York.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

AARP Bookstore

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Live Nation

Members save 25% or more when buying tickets in groups of four from Ticketmaster.

Cirque Du Soleil

Members save 15-30% on tickets to live Cirque du Soleil shows with their AARP membership card.

Pepperoni Pizza, Papa Johns Superbowl promotion for AARP members

Members save 25% off regular menu price orders at Papa John's.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.