Tamar Bergman weaves a fascinating tapestry of stories in A Conch of Secrets, her novel for young adults. The book is based on the life story of Colette Aboulker-Muscat, who was born in Algeria just before World War I. Colette tells the tales of her amazingly exciting childhood to her great-granddaughter Tal in present-day Israel. Aside from the authentic reproduction of a distant culture and a bygone era, we meet a colorful cast of characters and breathtaking adventures along with the protagonist. In one tale, Colette tells how the Belgian King attended her birthday party, and in another she recounts her hair-raising kidnapping by a German fighter-pilot. Alongside these stimulating events, we are introduced to Colette's loving grandmother, the wealthy matriarch of the large family clan, as well as her numerous cousins. Through her eyes, we discern the intricate relationships between the cousins, her parents, the gardener's daughter and her classmates, and more. Intertwined in the adventures are messages about tolerance and kindness, understanding and respect. Although Tal is not quite sure where reality ends and fantasy begins, she cannot wait to visit Grandma Colette, to get caught up in her wonderful memories and ask questions about her past. Tamar Bergman re-creates her characters so convincingly that the reader feels personally acquainted with them. Winner of the 1995 ACUM prize, this book is an adventurous and touching page-turner, guaranteed to keep the young reader rivetted.
Illustrations: Rutu Modan
English translation available (for publishers only)
Tamar Bergman has adapted this material as a book for adult readers. The biography, Like a Polished Mirror, was published in 1996.