Gardens of Stone

  • by Stephen Grady, Michael Wright
  • Narrated by Gordon Griffin, Luke Thompson
  • 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

An extraordinary wartime memoir, combining the best kind of adventure story with a coming-of-age testimony of unforgettable resonance and poignancy.
September 2011, Halkidiki, Northern Greece: A solitary 86-year-old man gazes across an Aegean headland, knowing that he must finally confront his past. He begins to write...September 1939, Nieppe, Northern France:14 year-old Stephen is living with his family, 25 kilometres from Ypres. His French mother battles with her encroaching blindness. Failing to escape the advancing German army, his English father can no longer look after the war graves that cast so heartbreaking a shadow across the region. Stephen and his friend Marcel embark upon their great adventure: collecting souvenirs from strafed convoys and crashed Messerschmitts.
But their world turns dark when arrested and imprisoned for sabotage and threatened with deportation or the firing squad. Upon his release, and still only 16, Stephen is recruited by the French Resistance. Growing up under the threat of imminent betrayal, he learns the arts of clandestine warfare, and - in a moment that haunts him still - how to kill....
Such was the impact of Stephen Grady's work for the French Resistance, (especially during the countdown to D-Day and its bloody aftermath) that he was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the American Medal of Freedom.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The Best Yet

I actually heard about this book during a radio book review and I sought it out. Honestly, I'm an audible vetran and this book is the Usain Bolt of audio book world, it's sheer gold.

It's such a straight forward, well narrated story of heroism and guts that it is quite simply, astounding. It's written in an almost modest, apologetic way. To all those people of that time involved in the French Resistance, I salute you. To a man and women you should all tell you tale.
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- Ian

Compelling! I could not wait to hear more.

An old man, an English gardener who tended the war graves, sitting on his balcony on a Greek Island is absorbed in the past.... His son keeps nagging him to write it down.

Thus begins a compelling true story, of growing up as a teenager in the French resistance. As the son of an English "Tommy" from the First World War, who married a French woman and settled down in France, Stephen is 16 when the Second World War breaks out. He watches as the soldiers march out to the war, and is proud to see the British Expeditionary Force among them.

All too soon however, the army is in retreat, and fighting draws near, sweeping over their village as the German army advances. For Stephen, and his friend from school, this is a golden opportunity to gather up a wealth of discarded guns, ammunition, bombs and smoke grenades (some of which they let off), and stash them as treasures. However, when the Germans arrive, things take a turn for the worst, and they realise their stash could get them and their families into serious trouble.

I found I could not put this story down. Something about the courage, daring shown, and danger that they lived under constantly, with Stephens father always in hiding (because he was British), their illicit radio tuned to the BBC, and the daring, often criminal acts of defiance Stephen took part in. It is a story of resistance under occupation, of loyalty, heroism, criminality, betrayal, cowardice, obligation and most of all, of ordinary and extraordinary people under pressure.

A clever device, the narrative is read initially and at the end by an old man, who might well be Stephen Grady himself, but as you go back in time in the narrative, a younger voice takes over. It is excellently and believably delivered by both in an English accent.

If you like true stories, of people in extreme situations, I really recommend this audiobook.
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- Jim Vaughan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 14-02-2013
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton