The Secret of the Blue Trunk by Lise Dion

The Secret of the Blue Trunk

The true story of how a young Québécois nun ended up a prisoner of war in Buchenwald and how her daughter discovered her secrets.In this true story, Armande Martel, a young nun from Quebec, is arrested by the Germans in 1940 during a stay at her religious order’s mother house in Brittany. She spends the war years in a German concentration camp. After her return to Canada, she leaves the Church, finds the love of her life in Montreal, and adop...

Details The Secret of the Blue Trunk

TitleThe Secret of the Blue Trunk
Release DateJan 1st, 2013
PublisherDundurn Group
GenreNonfiction, World War II, Holocaust, Biography, Autobiography, Memoir, Cultural, Canada

Reviews The Secret of the Blue Trunk

  • Wendy
    I read this book for book club and it is based on a true story. The story is taken from a woman's journal she kept while being a prisoner of war during WWII.A very good read!
  • Deborah Stevenson
    Trite! I am sure this must have been translated from the original French and it leaves something to be desired. A sad story but told without any emotion. Could hardly wait for it to be over.
  • Allison
    Wow. I had no idea what I was getting into when I opened this book. I heard Lise Dion interviewed on CBC while driving along the highway. I immediately called the next book store I was passing and asked them to set aside a copy for me. It was in my hands less than 30 minutes after hearing the interview. But even the author's interview didn't prepare me for what I was about to embark on. Like any other layman born long after WWII, I've got as much...
  • Bette-Ann
    A memoir by a Canadian nun who, after spending four years working as a slave labourer for the Nazis, never told anyone about her experiences until revealing all in journals discovered after her death. Her daughter wrote her memoir for her. The writing style is simple, and the author combines the mother's narrative with historical research to give it context. A fascinating story including close-up snapshots of life in both a convent and a Nazi lab...
  • Michelle Werner
    A heartbreaking true account of an amazingly strong woman but written more like a list of events, which as it came from a journal, is to be expected I suppose. If you read this book to find out more about the subject you will like it. If you want to connect to the people in the book or want a creative piece of writing that is engaging you will be disappointed. I believe that this poor woman's story could have reached far more people if the daught...
  • Barbara McVeigh
    Imagine your parent leaving you the key to a blue trunk that was always kept locked. What life did your parent have before you were born? What secrets does the blue trunk hold?Emotional and riveting. A daughter learns more about who her mother really was and what she had to endure. Some violence and sexual allusions, but suitable for teens.
  • Madeleine De
    Stand-up French Canadian comedian Lise Dion, wrote Secret du coffre bleu/The Secret of the Blue Trunk a fictionalized account of her adopted mother’s experience in Frontstalag 142. “Based on a true story” are key words. It is a novel, not a memoir or nonfiction historical account. Containing numerous inaccuracies and inconsistencies it cannot be relied upon as a historical document; nevertheless, some aspects are indisputable, such as the p...
  • Deborah Wellum
    Achingly beautiful. True stories are always superior to all other genres in my opinion. No fiction can come close to the unpredictability of a person's life experiences. There is no formula to the plot but rather a raw retelling of events, their effects and the outcome. This account weaves a tale with deep and lasting meaning in the lives of the characters while leaving an indelible impression on the fortunate reader.
  • Helene
    I thought the story was interesting and the writing was good. I'm glad I read it. I know the journals were a translation, nonetheless the approach used seemed rather odd to me. It was written in the past tense as if Lise had later compiled the daily details and written a summary account of same. Yet the narrator was her mother - as if she were looking back and summarizing those times. The mother had said in her goodbye letter to Lise that she had...
  • Emily Gillespie
    Beautiful historical narrative preserved in this book. I read it in one day. Highly recommend. I am curious how much Dion had to edit her mother's diaries for story format. I was also curious about the fate of a few people, such as the infant brother who was 6 months when she was sent to the orphanage. Well written.
  • Carol
    Wow! Totally fascinating! True story of a Canadian nun imprisoned in Buchenwald during WW2. I had no idea that this had happened. Remarkable story of courage and determination to survive.
  • Louise
    Story Description:Dundurn|February 16, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1459704510In this true story, Armande Martel, a young nun from Quebec, is arrested by the Germans in 1940 during a stay at her religious order’s mother house in Brittany. She spends the war years in a German concentration camp. After her return to Canada, she leaves the Church, finds the love of her life in Montreal, and adopts, Lise Dion. Growing up, Lise is familiar with on...
  • Janice Forman
    I continue to be amazed when I read another account of imprisonment in Germany's WWII concentration camps. With each harrowing tale of deprivation, I learn something new about this period of history. Who knew that Catholic Nuns became Prisoners of War and were sent to concentration camps simply because they were Canadian, subjects of Great Britain!Lise Dion never knew what secrets were hidden in her mother's Blue Trunk, until her mother passed aw...
  • Sandra
    I finished this a while ago for bookclub but just realized I never wrote a review. I didn't like this book. This was supposedly a true story based on the time the author's mother spent as a prisoner in the 2nd world war. When the mother died she (Ms. Dion) found some notebooks in a blue trunk that described that time in her mother's life. I don't believe that the information found in the books was meant to be published and the daughter should hav...
  • Sheila
    A true story. Armande is only 6 years old when her mother dies. Her father is able to keep her two younger brothers but unable to keep her. She is sent to a Catholic orphanage. When she turns 18, she takes her first vows as a nun. When she completes her vows, she is sent to Guernsey. WWII begun and Armande is arrested as were 2 other Canadian nuns because of Canada's affiliation to Britain. From there she is taken to a concentration camp where sh...
  • Decaf1
    I first heard the author, Quebec comedienne Lise Dion being interviewed on CBC Radio about this novel. The story sounded so intriguing that I had to add the book to my reading list. I'm happy to say that the book did not disappoint.Our book club has read a lot of books and memoirs about the European wars so it was refreshing to read a book that offered a different perspective. A young French Canadian nun travels to Europe and as war breaks out, s...
  • Katrina
    The story of a Quebec woman who becomes a nun because of circumstances that required her to be raised in a convent. She moves to France and is caught in WWII. She ends up in a Nazi labour camp for 4 years. Upon release, the Catholic Church unceremoniously advises her she is no longer welcome to return to her former life as a nun. This is a heart wrenching story and one I couldn't put down. It was based on 5 notebooks that the author found upon he...
  • Joyce Sandilands
    A sad, triumphantly moving true story told through a mother's diaries left for her daughter to discover following her death. I found the story mesmerizing because we don't often see the story of prison camps in Europe through a woman's eyes, especially a nun's. I could not put it down and I don't usually read so quickly due to other commitments. Thank you Lisa for this remarkable tribute to your mother for whom you must have felt so proud. Thanks...
  • HelenJ
    This was a nice simple straight forward book that tugged at my heart strings. I really enjoyed her description of being raised by nuns and then becoming a nun. I'd not read much about this. The time in German captivity was a much more familiar story in my reading history. Still it's a necessary reminder to never forget this inhumanity of one people to another. The aftermath of the war for Armande was very surprising to me! Neat short read!
  • Lindasp
    I'm fascinated with reading journals/diaries which had been kept by my family members in the past so this little book intrigued me. What's even more amazing is that it's the true story of Lise Dion's mother and her secrets which she concealed in her blue trunk. What a surprising life Armande had lived and kept secret from everyone. It also fed into my fascination of WWII and German prison camps.
  • Tracy Willcott
    The story was a fantastic one....however the writing was awful (it sounded like it was written by a 10 year old) I realize now it has been translated from French; I'm guessing the nuances were lost. However, it is a compelling true story of a Canadian nun sent to a work camp during the Nazi occupation. It was a story I have never heard of until now.
  • Carole
    It doesn't matter how many books I read on the subject of war, I always find it difficult to read about the inhumane treatment of prisoners. I was angriest, but not surprised, to read how Armande was abandoned by her religious community.The story is told succinctly and simply. And until she was so dispasionately discarded by the her curch, almost without judgement.
  • Zuzana Baker sudiova
    What a story.. I come from (the former) Czechoslovakia, which greatly suffered during WW2. I knew about the jewish hardship, but I had no idea that even british or canadian citizens were arrested. This brings a whole new understanding of the war and makes me wonder about how lucky we are to have what we have. Thank you for sharing this story with us Lise xx
  • Penny
    This probably lost something in the translation from the original French. Compelling true story, not particularly well written. About what you would expect reading anyone's private journal I suppose. A title less like a Nancy Drew mystery title would have served it better. Would make a really interesting basis for a longer fictionalized novel version though
  • Candy
    I know others have said they weren't happy with the writing style, but this was a woman's journal, not a book. This woman had one heck of a story to tell, by the way. I found it moving and inspiring. I would have liked a bit more follow up on those in the camp with her, but it doesn't appear she kept in contact with anyone. This is definitely worth the read.
  • Theresa
    Another personal story of survival in WWII concentration camp. Written by former nun who married and lived in Quebec, Canada, her daughter discovers her adopted mother's story written in a blue trunk that had been verbotten to her all her life.
  • Micheline Forgues theriault
    I love Lise Dion has a stand-up comedian. In this book she writes her mother's story, the story Lise never knew about before her mom passed away. Very touching, the women revealing the horror of the Nazi camps.
  • Ruth Henault
    Young novice nun from Chicoutimi is in Europe at the beginning of WW1 - imprisoned for 5 years as an enemy alien - her daughter learns her mother's story only after her death, thru her hidden notebooks. Gripping - read it in one session!
  • Denise Griffin
    I liked the book. never thought about the Canadian people arrested while living in Europe. I am always amazed at the cruelty that some will inflict and amazed even more that people survive. May Armande rest in peace