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Reviewed by Steve Leshin for Readers' Favorite
Griuns (The genesis of a small Swiss alpine village) A Folk Tale by Nigel Patten is taken from stories handed down over the centuries by inhabitants of a small village in the Vaudois Alps called Gryon. As the author explains in his preface, the villagers do not seem to know who the first inhabitants were who lived there year-round. Thus begins the story of a village with a monastery, a mean baron, and the serfs who live and work in the village of Baccis. Patten relates the story of one of the serfs, a very young girl called Ailla, who is picked by the baron for sexual favors. Scared of her future, Ailla is rescued by a young man who takes her to the mountains out of the reach of the baron and his men. They must endure a harsh winter, ever aware that Ailla is still in danger. They are helped by Anselmus, a monk, who is searching for his own meaning of life away from the abbey.
Griuns is a story of survival, redemption, strength, and perseverance in the wake of ancient customs, while life goes on amidst the beauty of the Swiss Alps. The characters are engaging, and the description of the harsh life of the serfs in the village is well told. How young Ailla and her beau Albe fare in the mountains makes you feel like you are there. Griuns is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of resilient people in the ancient Swiss countryside.