MICHEL MICHEL Author:ROBERT LEWIS This huge, profoundly conceived and richly executed novel is about the battle for possession of a child. — The child is Michel Benedek, whose Jewish parents have died in France at the hands of the Nazis, and who has been saved by a Frenchwoman, a Catholic, lovingly raised by her and, against the regulations of canon law, baptized. When at the wa... more »r's end he is claimed by his aunt in Israel, his foster mother "Maman Rose" refuses to give him up-and the battle is joined.
What beings as a personal quarrel in a small provincial town slowly and inexorably grows into a cause celebre-as the hierarchy of the Church and the leaders of French Jewry become involved, as the boy is hidden, passed from one secret refuge to another by Maman Rose and by the priests and nuns who will not surrender him to apostasy, as the Benedek Affair becomes a national scandal. The conflict that divides France-reviving old passions, calling forth prodigies of sacrifice and courage from both sides, stirring up currents of anti-Semitism and anticlericalism-is played out in the heart of the child himself. It is Michel-torn apart and devastated by opposing loyalties and loves and demands-who in the end must make his own choice, decide his own fate.
The sweep of the narrative, the brilliant clarity of dramatic incident and character, the unfaltering suspense, the generosity of feeling that embraces men and women of conflicting ideals, the powerful sense of history and, above all, the loving and whole portrayal of the child at the center of the storm, combine to make a work of art-a novel that will, we are certain, command the deep engagement and admiration of its readers.« less