Paulette Mahurin skilfully builds up the tension as the story unfolds. To Live Out Loud is a book that will enrich your life and leave you concious of not only the world’s past prejudices, but also of its present ones.
To Live Out Loud is a fascinating and thought-provoking account of the French journalist Emile Zola and his involvement with the Alfred Dreyfus affair. Dreyfus was a Jewish French army officer falsely convicted of treason in the late 19th century. In 1898, Zola put himself and his family in grave danger by accusing the French army of anti-Semitism and the obstruction of justice. I knew very little about Zola before I began this book, but found myself very quickly drawn into the story through Mahurin’s vivid recreation of 19th century Paris.
Paulette Mahurin tells Zola’s story through the eyes of his fictitious friend Charles Mandonette. Mandonette cleverly functions as a kind of voice of the common person; asking himself that which many of us would wonder about ourselves: would we be brave enough to risk our safety in the pursuit of what is right?
Mahurin effortlessly weaves together fact and fiction, using real court transcripts from Zola’s trials. The book is meticulously researched and detailed; Mahurin proving herself a great historian as well as writer. Tension builds steadily throughout and I was left angry and frustrated at the incredible perversion of justice by the French army and the Catholic Church. I highly recommend this book as I believe Zola and Dreyfus’s story is one we all need to hear.
(All proceeds from the sale of this book also go help rescue dogs, so just another great reason to read it!)
I have read most of Ms Mahurin’s works and will be a fan forever. This work caught me by surprise. I don’t know many versatile authors that can go from genre to genre SUCCESSFULLY like Ms Mahurin has. Even though this is a short work, I honesty think it may be her best. She writes with mature confidence and is in total control of the story and her skills. When writing historical “fiction,” (even worse, it is hardly fiction at all.) one runs the risk of stepping on the actual accounts of events. I wonder at Ms Mahurin’s own passion for injustice. It is a quality one rarely sees in this century of routine social media distortions and short attention spans.
Regarding the subject matter itself, I found the recounting to be shockingly timely. Will antisemitism ever stop? Our current middle East is seeped in it as our own POTUS is accused of it daily. And the parallel uncovering of governmental malfeasance is nothing new as our own and governments the world over lie to deflect from their own poor judgement and corruption.
A final comment. I loved the character of Charles. I wish I had seen more of the devils that I suspect tormented him. I was reminded (in style) of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s narrator in the Great Gatsby. Well done.
Bylove2readon September 16, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I’ve always been interested in the Dreyfuss case and it was amazing to learn about Emile Zola’s involvement. He is a very inspiring figure. I did have issues with a few things about the way the story was told here. There wasn’t a lot of description or emotion and that made me feel distant from the characters. At times it felt more like a history than a novel for that reason. But overall, I enjoyed broadening my knowledge about this infamous chapter of history in a easy-reading way.
ByVernon September 18, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I normally read very little fiction but I found Paulettes’
description of the Deyfus trial and the part Zola played
not only true to history but it offers a very human perspective
on it. This is a story that should never be forgotten given
the human proclivity toward predjudice when convenient.
To Live Out Loud is an extremely compelling fictionalization of the story of convicted French spy/traitor, Alfred Dreyfus (Jan. 1895), and the part in his exoneration played by French author/journalist, Émile Zola. Dreyfus, a French Jew, had climbed up in the military at a time when anti-semitic feelings were running high. Despite the fact that France had passed a Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789 which guaranteed freedom of religion, the Catholic church, some newspapers, and definitely, the military establishment, saw the Jews as a threat to French security and the Catholic religion. When a document was uncovered revealing that someone highly placed was passing information to the German embassy, army intelligence leaped to the assumption that Dreyfus was guilty because he was a Jew. Émile Zola was present when
“Dreyfus was paraded out into the courtyard of the École Militaire on the Champ de Mars . . . ceremoniously degraded in public by having rank insignia, buttons, and braid cut from his uniform, and his dress sword broken. The crowd cheered as he was made to march around the grounds in his tattered uniform with his head bowed.”
Zola questioned why someone who had risen so high in the army would risk it all by turning traitor. To find out the truth, Zola risks everything: his career, his livelihood, his reputation, and his freedom. While he followed leads, discovering that documents that could have cleared Dreyfus had been kept from his defence attorney, layer upon layer of cover-up injustices became heaped one on top of the other. It became a deep conspiracy, the revealing of which shook the French justice system to its core.
Told through the eyes of a fictional friend of Zola’s, Charles Mandonette, an engineer who had worked with Zola Sr., and had known Émile since he was a child, the facts of the case are woven together in a riveting fashion. This story is extremely well-researched and many of the statements and documents are quoted verbatim from historical accounts: the tender line from a letter written from Dreyfus from his prison on Devil’s Island in French Guiana to his wife, Lucie, her letter to the court during Émile’s libel trial, letters and articles written by Zola in the Paris newspaper. Transcripts from the libel trials are included in excerpt to convey the court’s total disregard for uncovering the truth of the matter, and the vicious anti-semitic behaviours typical of the time.
Paulette would ask you to purchase this book because all the proceeds go to rescuing dogs from kill-shelters, which is a great cause, but you should buy this novel because it is an amazing story, well-told, which will keep you reading to the end in one sitting. It is that moving. The characters come to life. Each chapter begins with an appropriate quote from Zola. You could search online and find out how the story ends but you would miss out on what made Zola a great writer and humanitarian. If this book doesn’t make you want to read more about and by him, nothing will. Great historical fiction.
From Amazon U.K.
This historical novel is a vignette of Emile Zola’s life and intervention into the fate of Alfred Dreyfus. Dreyfus was a Jewish artillery officer and had been convicted of treason in a court-marshall in 1895. Many felt he was wrongly charged, including Emile Zola, who wrote an article about the unfair treatment and tried to defend him. This got Zola charged with criminal action on Dreyfus’ behalf, whereupon he fled France hoping to escape imprisonment.
The meat of the story is the belief that one must speak up for others being mistreated, even at personal cost. Zola was warned and yet did not hesitate to come to Dreyfus’ aid as best he could. This is a story of people helping the less fortunate and standing up for what is right. I hope this quality never disappears from our culture. Dreyfus’ wife and children suffered for society’s ill treatment of Jews in general and Dreyfus in particular. Jews were severely discriminated against in France and many other places in the late 1800s and for many years, and like many other cultural groups it is through no fault of their own.
Kudos to Mahurin for bringing this story to light.