Cancer survivor reviews His Name Was Ben

on August 22, 2015
Sara has cancer, Ben has cancer; they meet when they are both referred for the same drug trial. It’s a trial for those patients who have few or no other options. This is the start of the story so the reader expects a rough ride but actually what follows is a lesson in what we all should do, sick or otherwise; live for the moment, never expect life to stop offering something good even in the gravest of times, and when it does… Grab it!
Both Sara and Ben have parental issues but they also have good friends and loving relationships in their lives. Sara has a stalwart friend, Ellen who has supported her tirelessly through her illness. Ben has a brother he is close to. But when Sara spots Ben she instinctively senses that she has a chance at love, maybe a last chance and she aggressively orchestrates a meeting with him in a way that might have seemed quite contrived in some chick-lit rom-com. However her moves are so significant in this story based on true life. Sara has learned the hard way that life’s opportunities should never be wasted, a lesson that many of those who beat cancer carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Sara contacts Ben.
The account is sad but happy and very uplifting. Faced with this story to tell the author has given a fearlessly straightforward account of the highs and lows of this dreadful disease and recreated the beautiful side of what can happen to courageous people.
I am a cancer survivor. It was a long time ago. I don’t dwell on it but I never forget how lucky I am.
on August 25, 2015

Paulette Mahurin brings her own stance to the controversy about Emile Zola that centred on the question of the guilt or innocence of army captain Alfred Dreyfus, who had been convicted of treason for selling secrets to the Germans -allegedly To .Live Out Loud pulls at your heart strings as Zola tries to right a wrong only to find himself convicted of libel.

Written in the first person with the protagonist Charles Mandonette, Mahurin tells us the story of a man seeking justice, his thoughts, actions and the obstacles he faces in a time when France finds itself divided.

To LIve Out Loud is a brilliantly crafted piece of work that will hold your attention from start to finish.

on August 25, 2015

This historical fiction is a wonderfully written account of Emile Zola’s attempt to convey to the world the coverup in the Dreyfus Affair. Despite knowing he was going against powerful military, political, and religious leaders, Zola stood up for what he believed was right, hoping against the odds that people and the court would judge fairly. If you don’t know the outcome, read the book. You will be touched, angered, and saddened by the events that plagued Zola.

This book and others like this should be must reads for schools. If all history was presented to youth in such a manner, rather than cold, hard facts, they would be more likely to not only retain that knowledge, but also enjoy it so much more. And not only that, but perhaps they would learn about values and what it means to stand up for what you believe is truth.

To Live Out Loud by Paulette Mahurin grips the reader with Emile Zola’s quotes as much as it does by Paulette Mahurin’s brilliant writing. The First voice narration of Charles Mandonette was an ingenious way to relate the story; a way to give it deep feelings and lure the reader into the same emotions, of anger and frustration at the bigotry and corruption.
I was familiar with the Dreyfus affair and “J’accuse…!” the open letter published on 13 January 1898 in the newspaper L’Aurore by the influential writer Émile Zola. I lived in France two years and by all accounts the French see it as a shameful part of their history.
I never doubted that the historical data was right, but curiosity got the better of me, I researched a little hereand there and everything I looked up was spot on.
Whether readers are interested in the historical period or not, the book is farmore than historical. Today as we witness prejudices of our modern era,this book is a good place to start, pause and THINK.
I have always enjoyed Paulette’s writing, To Live Out Loud may well be my very favorite. A five star BRAVO!
on August 18, 2015

This is the second work by Paulette Mahurin, having previously read The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap. I was really caught up in her first novel and this piece grabbed me the same way.

Standing up for the unfairly judged is a strong theme and Paulette paints an intense tale of Zola’s powerful struggle. I doubt I would choose to come to Dreyfus’ aid were I in Zola’s shows. It further illustrates how far off course our culture may be with regard to this sort of heroic self-sacrifice.
From a historical perspective the work is dead on and well researched. She creates with words, Paris in a grand visual read.
Congrats to Paulette on another 5 star winner.

I would recommend this book to anyone. It doesn’t have to be your normal choice of read for you to be swept away.

on August 23, 2015
Just finished reading To Live Out Loud and felt moved to write this review. Ms. Mahurin writes about Emile Zola and his role in the infamous Dreyfus Affair. It divided the masses but ultimately resulted in massive changes in the criminal justice system. The author tells the story from the perspective of Zola’s good friend, Charles. The book chronicles Zola’s fight to free an innocent soldier, Alfred Dreyfus, from a treason charge. His ordeal was orchestrated by two military officers to protect another by the name of Esterhazy. Zola wrote about the case in a piece entitled. J’accuse. He found support among the leftist politicians but quickly developed political, religious opponents who subsequently charged Emile with a crime. Zola eventually escape to England in order to avoid imprisonment.
The story of this crucial case in French history is well written and told from a sympathetic point of view. Her style of writing seems forthright and clear. The author conveys the spirit of justice that fueld Zola’s work and the times he lived in (at the turn of the last century). It’s clear that Mahurin’s relied on careful research and in-depth biographical material. This sort of historical novel can be used in a number of scholarly settings (history classes, legal studies, courses on social and political change). At the start of each chapter, the author includes telling quotes from Zola’s writing. This technique brings to life his vision and character in a toucing manner. Aside from the value of understanding the historical context, the social and political influence of journalists of his stature, and the legal system of that time, it’s a fascinating story of courage and hope. I strongly recommend To Live Out Loud.
on August 21, 2015
To Live Out Loud has a wealth of historical research without ever losing the warmth and interest of a novel. The story of Emile Zola’s role in the Dreyfus Affair is indeed a “…moment in the history of human conscience”. Highly recommended.
on August 19, 2015

The Dreyfus affair and Emile Zola’s “J’Accuse!” provide the theme for this short book. I was roughly aware of the facts and seized the chance to better my understanding of the matter. As I read, it seemed to me that at any point since, we could point to this tale and say that it is particularly relevant now, because our society is currently…

The story starts in 1895 as an artillery officer is court martialled and hastily found guilty of passing France’s secrets to Germany. The man came from Alsace-Lorraine and Germany has recently annexed Alsace. Thus relations between the two nations are fraught. France has a constitution, since the overthrow of the monarchy, which states that all citizens are to be treated equally. However, a Jewish officer, Dreyfus, is not treated with respect and fairness but is picked on as a likely culpable person and swiftly consigned to jail.

The narrator is an engineer and friend of the family of Emile Zola, a man of letters who has gained work as a journalist. While Zola is not wealthy he in true French fashion supports a wife and mistress with their children. A key phrase which struck me is that these were “educated men, critical thinkers.” They choose not to believe the convenient court martial finding and look for evidence. A man comes forward with opposing evidence to the army, but he is swiftly transferred overseas and the officer he had accused is as swiftly exonerated. The army does not want to admit that it got things wrong.

Deciding that the hidebound Catholic influence, and intervention by the Papal Nuncio, inflame the time of hatred and need to be countered, Zola spends much effort to write a letter to the President and people, accusing France of having betrayed its own ideals. This is published in a prominent Parisian newspaper and a writ for libel ensues. Much of the rest of the story is concerned with the prejudiced court cases which follow, verdicts and appeals.

Largely this book is based upon conversations, with a few spare words for scene setting and personal description. I’m more comfortable with a little more movement and living in the moment, but our narrator is in his seventies by the time the affair is trundling between courts so this was never going to be an action adventure. Guns, swords, stone-throwing mobs and a possible case of murder do however appear, leaving us in no doubt of the anger and peril upon the Paris streets.

What I thought might be helpful to include, would be an explanation of the fact that France and most of the European continent uses Napoleonic code of law. This means that a person accused of a crime is considered guilty until proven innocent. In Ireland, Britain and elsewhere, the reverse is the case.
Also under Napoleonic code, the presiding judge is the one who controls all aspects of the case from investigation to the decision to take the matter to a courtroom to what may be shown to a jury – in some cases there is no jury. In a British or Irish case the judge’s influence does not begin until the investigation is ready to be prosecuted, though evidence and procedures must adhere to standards to be admissible.
An example can be found in the factual ‘Fatal Journey: The Murder of Trevor O’Keefe’ by Eroline O’Keeffe.

Zola’s words are quoted to us above each chapter, with great variety from humour to philosophy.
“One forges one’s style upon the terrible anvil of daily deadlines.”
“The truth is on the march and nothing will stop it.”

We need more of such heroes and I thank author Paulette Mahurin for once more bringing Emile Zola and the nation-changing Dreyfus affair to our generation.

on August 22, 2015
Paulette Mahurin has shown herself remarkably diverse in her choices of subjects, which once again demonstrated in her third novel by her selection of the Dreyfuss Affair that rocked France at the turn of the twentieth century, or rather the critical role played by the writer Emile Zola in bringing about eventual reversal of Dreyfuss’ wrongful conviction for spying. Paulette chronicles the extraordinary courage shown by Zola in publishing “J’Accuse” that led to his prosecution for (criminal) libel and his flight to England. Though both he and Dreyfuss were exonerated, sadly Zola did not live to enjoy old age, dying a couple of years later in a carbon monoxide poisoning event (either an accident or….). This turbulent life and time are beautifully chronicled by Paulette in this concise novel.
on August 21, 2015

The theme of an Intellectual viewed by an oppressing hegemony as a danger to be eliminated and a persona non grata is a universal one. It could happen -fortunately- at any era. In our society Amnesty International has accumulated several cases of inprisoned or ‘disappeared’ Intellectuals who dared to antagonise tyrants using their voice or reason and social justice.

So by default I am only too respectful to Ms Mahurin’s decision to deal with exactly this huge theme. In this occasion it is the infamous Dreyfus Affair which rocked France, from Zola’s perspective and narrated by his close, lifelong friend Charles. It is the journey of Emil Zola’s fight to defend Alfred Dreyfus from the unfair treason accusation that was orchestrated against him by Colonel Henry and Colonel Du Paty de Clam among else and to expose the real guilty part Esterhazy. Zola’s passionate J’accuse was supported by leftist politicians and George Clemenceau but found plenty of formidable enemies among the state, anti-Semites and the Catholic Church. Then as Zola was trialed and pronounced guilty he had to escape to England in order to escape imprisonment. He came back to France but he didn’t live enough to see justice being given and Dreyfus exonerated.

This fictionalised biopic/ political thriller is masterfully written. The tone is eloquent but formal, at times strict, matter-of-factish with short staccato sentences. It doesn’t indulge into floral descriptions of Parisien apartments, and leafy avenues and streetcars but I think this is only a wise decision of the author whose writing reflects the naturalist spirit of Zola. The author is given passionately into examining the fiery spirit and compassion of Zola and obviously the seriousness of the Affair and does not deviate but for releasing some necessary biographical notes.
Admirable wisdom is also shown by selecting Zola’s appropriate citations in the beginning of each chapter. The real Zola’s voice add to the character Zola flesh and blood which is made out of the most honest, fiery and humane material.
Concluding I consider this book a very successful writing venture, highly intelligent and I highly recommend it.


5.0 out of 5 starsFascinating story of a life lived boldly
ByMayMoggieon 20 September 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
My only complaint about this book about the life of Emile Zola was; I wish there had been more of it! I was fascinated by this story based on the history of a life spent fighting for justice and seeking truth, yet meeting injustice and prejudice. I wondered what Zola’s early life was like. I came away thinking; there is a time to speak out, and maybe there is also a time to keep quiet and walk away.

on 19 August 2015
A book which deals with injustice and discrimination….but not only in the abstract. You meet the people involved, feel their pain and see what it cost them to persist against the odds to see right done.

“To Live Out Loud” is a story about Emile’ Zola who is a novelist and writer living in the 1800’s. The back story of this book is a tale of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish man and an officer in the French Military. Through an elaborate dog-and-pony-show ignited and propagated by the French public and military, Dreyfus is court marshaled and sent to prison for being a traitor. The military court has found him guilty of providing secret military intelligence to Germany. Some in the public have their doubts about Dreyfus’s guilt, including Zola who believes that Dreyfus has been wrongly convicted and is actually an innocent man. In my mind, the main story of this novel is how Zola and his lifelong friend Charles Mandonette weigh out the dangers of writing a newspaper article that says Dreyfus is innocent and what will happen after it is published. Zola wants to tell the people of France that Dreyfus is indeed innocent and another officer is the actual traitor. Zola and Mandonette meet many times to discuss the implications of writing such an article while anti-Semitism runs rampant in France and determine being imprisoned for liable will likely be the outcome. Even with the threat of imprisonment, Zola publishes the article which infuriates the French public and military who label him a “Jew-Lover”. Soon after, Zola is arrested and tried in a kangaroo court for liable and sent to prison for a stint. While in prison, the leaders of France change and Alfred Dreyfus is given a retrial. I can’t tell you anymore about the story because it might ruin the ending for you.

“To Live Out Loud” is very well written. The sentence structure is very elaborate and very interesting to read. It draws you in and won’t allow you to skip a word and miss any of the story. There are quite a few characters in the novel that intertwine throughout the story so you have to follow closely and remember who is who. But the variety of characters brings fullness to the storyline and provides a closer look at the French people and their beliefs as well as the world at that period of time. My emotions ran from full-on-anger in some chapters to heart breaking sadness in others. The author has written some power stuff in “To Live Out Loud”. Stuff that pulls your thoughts away from going to the grocery store or that you still need to clean the bathroom. A good book should do that. It should pull you away from your normal, everyday life and that’s exactly what this novel does.

I liked this book. It was well worth my time to read it.

5.0 out of 5 starsSpellbinding!
ByAmazon Customer “The Book Lover”on 21 September 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I was pretty much blown away by To Live Out Loud. What struck me was the way in which the author intertwines historical fiction and fact whilst seamlessly incorporating historical references which only serve to add to the magnificence of this book. Remodels historical characters I loved the way in which fact and fiction seamlessly glided to create a narrative that was incredibly intriguing but also left me feeling a combination of raw emotions. There were moments when I wanted to scream, cry, shout and smile. Furthermore, the novel deals greatly with socio-political, religious and racial issues that permeated French society. Issues that are raw and painful but still impact society today. I was particularly moved by Zola and her determination to fight for justice: “The thought is a deed. Of all deeds, she fertilizes the world the most.” Her wisdom, resilience, tenacity and zeal blew me away. And quite frankly, Paulette Mahurin’s characterization of her is nothing short of remarkable – she’s a character that readers can’t help but love. I’d recommend this book in a heartbeat; i’s a quick but thoroughly outstanding read.
4.0 out of 5 starsA fascinating, challenging, novel
BySarah Stuarton 24 September 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I knew nothing of Alfred Dreyfus, but my interest in the past attracted me to read “To Live Out Loud”. Several times I became puzzled as to what was documented actuality and spent time looking up facts, and it became clear that Ms Mahurin did a great deal of research using sources not easily available. In the end I gave up; she is to be commended that truth and fiction are so skilfully interwoven the result is seamless.

The whole story is fascinating, but I did feel the sheer weight of history rather got in the way of developing characters I could feel for, like, and desperately want to succeed. or indeed despise. This is quite a short book and I do wonder if adding to the length might have given the writer a chance to delve deeper into the psyche of the major protagonists to good effect.

on 26 August 2015
Paulette is a master at writing books and she did not disappoint me in any way. I have read two other books by her and I do not normally read historical type books but this one actually got my interest and kept it. I think because it is something that is close to my heart, Standing up for someone or something that you believe in and fighting for it. I sat and read this book and completely could put myself in Emile Zola’s place and his friends place as well. Knowing that you are innocent as well as your friends and trying to prove it by standing up for what is right only to be knocked back down multiple times is so heart breaking. I was angry at some points and in tears at other points and completely enjoyed this book. Thank You Paulette for another wonderful story. “If people can just love each other a little bit, they can be so happy.” Emile Zola

About The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

The year 1895 was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; Richard Olney, United States Secretary of State, expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in settling a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for "gross indecency" under Britian's recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When the news of Wilde's conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Oscar Wildes' imprisonment. It is chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing. Paulette Mahurin, the author, is a Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ojai, California with her husband Terry and their two dogs--- Max and Bella. She practices women's health in a rural clinic and writes in her spare time. All profits from her book are going to animal rescue, Santa Paula Animal Shelter, the first and only no-kill shelter in Ventura County, CA, where she lives. (see links below on Ventura County Star Article & Shelter) To find out more please go the The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap on facebook or Amazon or e-mail us at the gavatar addresses. Thank you. (photos: of Paulette, her family, and a reading at The Ojai Art Center, July 2012)
This entry was posted in AMAZON, ANIMAL RESCUE, Canine Adoption Rescue League, EMILE ZOLA, REVIEW: TO LIVE OUT LOUD, REVIEWS, Reviews: To Love Out Loud, Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Cancer survivor reviews His Name Was Ben

  1. tazzielove says:

    Great review of His Name Was Ben. And all the others coming in for To Live Out Loud.

  2. patgarcia says:

    Thank you for this review on a very important topic.

  3. Blynng15 says:

    When I had cancer, my dogs were so close to me for some reason. They became more attached to me so much that when I went back to work, they went crazy with their barking enthusiasm when I came home at the end of the day. Unfortunately, my neighbors would know too. They know. Good job.

    • I hope that your cancer is well behind you and you’re now living a cancer free life. Bless you for stopping by and sharing this beautiful and thoughtful comment. It’s true that dogs know and in fact there’s been research studies with them finding cancers in urine samples before people have been diagnosed. They are our best friends in so many way. Can’t imagine life without a dog. ❤

      • Blynng15 says:

        I’ve been NED for 8 years now. My dad, brother, 2 uncles and 1 aunt died from the same cancer within 1 year of diagnosis. I am the only one who survived. I am blessed and so are you. I feel it was a blessing in disguise, I have learned to appreciate everything and every day of my life. You are right. I can’t imagine being without a dog. Keep doing what you are doing. If you need any help, let me know. ♡

      • EXCELLENT that you are NED. Not sure if you’ve seen I’m an NP in Calif and have done a considerate amount of pro bono work with women with cancer. The holiday of gratitude must be incredible for you. Add me to your support network and those sending you good vibes/thoughts that you live a long long healthy happy life. This with you today has made my day. Very special. Thank you. ❤

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