A conversation with Bobbie Ann Mason about her novel "The Girl in the Blue Beret" (Random House)
Bobbie Ann Mason was studying French a few years ago when she had an inspiration. Her French studies sparked memories of her late father-in-law's experiences during the Second World War. He was an aviator and his plane was shot down over German-occupied Europe.
Mason's father-in-law was one of thousands of Allied aviators who survived because they were assisted on the ground by local residents who were willing to risk their lives to protect them. In this interview Mason describes how she transformed true stories of heroism into compelling fiction.
Her fictional protagonist, Marshall Stone, crash landed a B-17 bomber. He made his way to Paris where he was hidden from the German Army by members of the French Resistance. A young woman, "the girl in the blue beret," was one of the people who helped him.
As the book opens it is 1980 and Stone is preparing to retire from his job as a commercial airline pilot. He decides to go to Paris to reconnect with his past. This is the beginning of a trip back to wartime memories and in Stone's case, a journey to love.