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Gardens of Stone

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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An extraordinary wartime memoir, combining the best kind of adventure story with a coming of age testimony of unforgettable resonance and poignancy.

About the Author

Stephen Grady OBE was born in Northern France in 1925, the son of an English father who was a head gardener in the Imperial War Graves Commission. In 1941 he joined the French Resistance, carrying out missions for which he was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star, the American Medal of Freedom, and a British mention in Dispatches. After the liberation of France, he joined the British Army and served as a Lieutenant with the Intelligence Corps, before returning to a long career in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, for which he eventually became director of the France area. He now lives alone in Greece. Michael Wright, who worked with Stephen Grady on Gardens of Stone, is an English writer based in rural France. He has published two bestselling books about his life-changing experiences there: C'est la Folie and Je t'aime a La Folie.


He joined the Resistance at the age of 16, an abrupt journey to manhood in occupied France, and he recalls it with astonishing clarity and without sparing our emotions. * Country Life * This terrifying and utterly gripping account. * Daily Mail * British schoolboys doubtless have quite different fantasies nowadays, but for much of the last century most of them liked to imagine themselves leading their friends in guerrilla warfare against the German army. Stephen Grady is probably unique in having lived the fantasy, an experience he recalls in Gardens of Stone. Now he has made his authorial debut at the age of 87 with a book that is thrilling, honest, funny and sad. * Spectator * Stephen Grady has made his authorial debut at the age of 87 with a book that is thrilling, honest, funny and sad. * Spectator * His heroism is of the very real kind...vividly recreates , in a simple and unadorned style, life under Nazi occupation. * Sunday Times * An extraordinary memoir of the journey to manhood unfolding against a backdrop of terror, destruction and stark tragedy. At times charmingly whimsical, at times almost unbearably poignant, Gardens of Stone is the best book I have read about the struggle of seventy years ago - and its haunting legacy - bar none. * Colonel Tim Collins * This is not only a remarkable coming of age story, it is also one of the finest memoirs of the war I have ever read. Stephen Grady brilliantly conveys the journey from childhood adventure to a far more sinister world where the threat of betrayal and torture lurks at every turn. At turns profoundly moving and grippingly tense, this book, like The Railway Man and First Light before it, deserves to become a classic. * James Holland, author of HELLFIRE * A heart breaking, beautifully crafted true story of courage, loss, loneliness and the reality of what it meant to fight the Occupation. * Kate Mosse, author of CITADEL * Remarkable...extraordinary. * Libby Purves, BBC Radio 4 Midweek *

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