Interview: Francelle Bradford White

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Andree’s War. (Click here to read.)  It’s a great book, hence why I wanted to hear from the author, Francelle Bradford White herself:
“I began writing the book because my mother Andree became ill with Alzheimer’s and someone had once told me that when you are upset about something in life it can help to write about it.  I decided, however, that rather than write about my worries and my problems I would write about what to me had been the most extraordinary day in my Mother’s life and that was what happened to her on the 17/7/1944 when she was arrested by the Werhmart, subsequently questioned by the Gestapo and then how she talked her way out of what she was being accused of.  This was the basis from which the whole book evolved i.e The way in which  Andree’s resistance group came about, what the other resistance fighters were doing and then I used  her journals written at the time  to describe  how she , her family and her friends were living during the war. The diaries do not describe the resistance work but there are bits I have used to piece together some of the exploits.
She describes in the journal staying in a brothel because she had missed a train.  I know she was on a resistance trip because she told me in a recorded interview.
I decided, however, that rather than write about my worries and my problems I would write about what to me had been the most extraordinary day in my Mother’s life
 
I use the book as a platform to raise money for research into Alzheimer’s and to date have raised over £ 50 000 from book sales and donations.
 
I have given a large number of talks where I sell books for £16.99 and the  £10 profit on each book sold goes to research into Alzheimer’s.  I set up the Andree Griotteray Charitable Trust..  Half way through the talk I remind everyone why I have written the book and ask the audience whether they might know of any way they could help me but I am very careful always to stick to the story of the Resistance and not talk about Alzheimer’s.  Big mistake to sell 2 things at the same time!
 
I knew quite a lot about what my family had done in the French Resistance because post the war years in the 1950’s and 60’s I used to stay a lot with my Grandmother and Uncle and they often talked about it all and later in the 1980’s my uncle started to organise Resistance reunions throughout France and I met many of their Resistance friends and colleagues who were part of the bigger story.
I use the book as a platform to raise money for research into Alzheimers and to date have raised over £ 50 000 from book sales and donations.
 
We were not taught anything about the French Resistance when I was at school so I am afraid I cannot answer the question.  I am over 60 and WW2 was not taught in schools at the time but my daughter was asked in the nineties to interview someone who had lived through WW2 and because of this she focused, as an 11 year old,  on what her  Grandmother who is now 96 had got up to.
 
The timeline of events was put together by reference to historical books written by British and French authors ( I list them in the Bibliography ), visits to museums both in the UK and France and the journals were very accurate about what was going on in France and the U.K at the time politically.
I am over 60 and WW2 was not taught in schools at the time but my daughter was asked in the nineties to interview someone who had lived through WW2 and because of this she focused, as an 11 year old,  on what her  Grandmother who is now 96 had got up to.
 
Some people refer to the French Resistance as a myth but it was very real.  The members of the French Resistance,  I believe,  gave France back her honor and her dignity and De Gaulle used it to this effect.  My mother used to say that during the war they did not know what the term “French Resistance” meant.  She would say “We hated the Germans so much and we would have done anything to “resist” the occupation and to help De Gaulle.”
 
Re advice PERSEVERE!  Keep going!  If you work hard enough at something you will get there.  My book is now almost  sold out and my publishers  are working on a reprint.”
Thank you to Francelle, and to Elliot and Thompson for making this happen. Click here to view the official website. And click here to buy the book.

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