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Be Still, My Soul

2013, CCB Publishing


ISBN-13: 978-1-77143-058-6
$7.95 U.S. / e-book edition
317 pages


Worldwide Release May 2013


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Be Still, My Soul

by Richard Shain Cohen

Book Description
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"I remember my mother Jocelyn.” She accompanied "me to the induction center." She could follow me no further... “I can never forget the expression on her face, the sadness, the tears, for she had suffered through the entire ware for all her sons..."

With this indelible impression, Jeremie, the youngest Lobel son, introduces his family as it faces the turmoil of the late 1930s and then endures World War II and battle’s toll. Jocelyn, Catholic, a renowned singer, has married a Jewish physician, Aaron, a man of medical achievements. They struggle throughout their marriage not only because of conflicting careers, religion, and social status but with the fear of four sons in service during World War II. Moreover, Jocelyn’s brother, Joseph, has become an agent for the British prior to hostilities and works and spies in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. He also marries a German double agent Elena, working for the allies. She comes to the United States to live. Mistakenly believing her husband died in battle, she returns to occupied France. Jocelyn, meanwhile, seeks a semblance of stability while trying to reconcile differences with Aaron and also with her difficult daughter-in-law. These accumulating home problems occur as her sons’ letters arrive describing their trials on the battlefields while withholding their knowledge of a murder by Joseph. Eventually, Jocelyn’s strength preserves the family and herself through tragedy and eventual worldwide peace.

Midwest Book Review:

"It's the eve of World War II. Aaron Lobel is an immigrant Jew, a Boston doctor, had married into a wealthy Catholic family, and after thirty years of marriage to Jocelyn, has sired four sons. But Aaron's life is now complicated as he struggles to keep his sons from enlisting in the army, and deals with German double agents marrying into the family -- not to mention spies for British Intelligence who are already in the family. In recreating the world of the opening pre-war years of the 1940s, author Richard Cohen has drawn from his own family's history and paid meticulous attention to historical detail enhancing his fast-paced narrative. Engagingly written, Be Still, My Soul reveals that no family, no matter how privileged, was able to stave off the effects of one of the most destructive and wide-flung wars of recorded human history."


It's the eve of Word War II. Hitler is on the march, swallowing entire countries, extinguishing the lights of Europe.... Thus sets the stage for Be Still, My Soul, Richard Shain Cohen's new novel based, in part, on real-life war letters sent by his brothers and an uncle from Europe and British Palestine...

Cohen, a World War II veteran himself, does a wonderful job of evoking the terror of a world on the precipice, teetering between right and wrong, darkness and light.

There's no room for gray in a world fighting between good and evil, and Cohen is masterful at conjuring the mood of America circa in the first half of the 1940s. Close your eyes and you'll hear the Andrews Sisters. You 'll feel the cohesion of war-time Christmas in New York-soldiers in uniforms, women with shoulder pads scurrying in the cold past department store windows on their way to give blood for the boys overseas.

The fast-paced narrative is alternately heart-racing and heartbreaking; struggling for survival in the desert against Rommel, persevering on a home front missing sons and fathers who will never come home.

Jeremie's brothers' letters are perfect-the homesickness, the humor of the greatest generation assuring its parents that the sacrifices are worth it. The author's mother saved dozens of letters, strikingly literate, heartfelt, and innocent, written by boys destined never to be innocent again....The story he presents is immensely absorbing-even more so knowing he's woven the history of the war from an authentic and touching history of his family.

An "intriguing book. [Cohen's] description of the struggle between Allied and Axis powers comes across as masterful and authentic. . . . Like The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever or Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga, this fictional family history is rich in detail." — Maine Sunday Telegram