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Charlesworth, Monique 1951–

Charlesworth, Monique 1951–

PERSONAL: Born 1951, in Birkenhead, England; married Alex Lifschutz (an architect); children: two. Education: Graduated from Bristol University, 1974, and National Film and Television School, 1991.

ADDRESSES: Home—London, England. Agent—Charles Walker, PFD, Drury House, 34-43 Russell St., London WC2B 5HA, England.

CAREER: Novelist and screenwriter; cofounder of Saville Charlesworth Films.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

The Glass House, Poseidon Press (New York, NY), 1986.

Life Class, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1988.

Foreign Exchange, Sceptre (London, England), 1995.

The Children's War (historical), Knopf (New York, NY), 2004.

SCREENPLAYS

The Shadowy Third, British Broadcasting Corporation, 1991.

Three Miles Up, British Broadcasting Corporation, 1995.

Who's Been Sitting in My Car?, British Broadcasting Corporation, 1995.

Foreign Exchange, Saville Charlesworth Films, 1999.

Kiss Me, Stupid, British Broadcasting Corporation, 2000.

SIDELIGHTS: Monique Charlesworth, a British novelist and screenwriter, is the author of The Children's War, a "moving, morally nuanced, and accomplished historical novel," according to a critic in Publishers Weekly. Charlesworth, a graduate of the National Film and Television School who has lived in France, Germany, and Hong Kong, made her literary debut in 1986 with the novel The Glass House. Her first screenplay, The Shadowy Third, was broadcast on British television in 1991.

In The Children's War, published in 2004, Charlesworth explores the lives of two German families during World War II. Thirteen-year-old Ilse, the daughter of a Jewish father and an Aryan mother, is sent to Morocco to live with her uncle after the Nazis come to power. When her uncle joins the French Foreign Legion, Ilse reunites with her father, Otto, who has fled to Paris. After the pair are forced to leave the war-torn city and Otto is arrested, Ilse must fend for herself, aided by members of the resistance movement. Meanwhile Ilse's mother, Lore, remains in Germany, working as a nursemaid for a wealthy family with ties to the Nazi Party. One of her charges, a bright, sensitive teenager named Nicolai, grows increasingly skeptical of Hitler's aims, and he eventually forms a strong bond with Lore. "The author enters the consciousness of the children with insight and restraint," noted Robert MacNeil in the Washington Post Book World. "Even when forced to assume adult responsibilities, they remain children. Food, usually the lack of it, is constantly on their minds. They understand what their emotional ages let them understand, as the reader feels adult perceptions only gradually dawning in them." In Library Journal, Reba Leiding similarly observed, "Charlesworth's prose masterfully sustains a tension between the sense of impending doom and the main characters' dreamy and often childlike perceptions."

The Children's War received strong reviews. MacNeil commented that the author tells the story of the war's civilian tragedies "so artfully that she brings an entirely fresh perspective to bear on familiar psychological territory." "With Ilse as unblinking guide," noted a critic in Kirkus Reviews, "Charlesworth travels the morally ambiguous alleyways of war to create a deeply satisfying if unsettling read full of richly complicated characters." Reviewing The Children's War in Publishers Weekly, a critic deemed the work "an alternately haunting and tender portrait of the lives of innocents caught in the relentless, random path of war."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 2004, Debi Lewis, review of The Children's War, p. 1896.

Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), November 7, 2004, Elaine Kalman Naves, review of The Children's War.

Image, February, 2004, review of The Children's War.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2004, review of The Children's War, p. 590.

Library Journal, June 15, 2004, Reba Leiding, review of The Children's War, p. 57.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, November 27, 2004, Geeta Sharma-Jensen, review of The Children's War.

Publishers Weekly, August 16, 2004, review of The Children's War, p. 43.

Washington Post Book World, December 12, 2004, Robert MacNeil, "Orphans of the Storm," review of The Children's War, p. 4.

PERIODICALS

Bookbrowse.com, http://www.bookbrowse.com/ (May 3, 2005), "Monique Charlesworth."

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