The Gate

Michael Elcock - Bio and Media
pb / 2011-04 / Fiction /
978-088982-272-6 / 224pp / $18.95

The Gate is a love story and a tragedy centred on the search by Stephen Rochefort, a Canadian, for information about his past. Rochefort receives shattering information about his origins at his grandmother’s deathbed—origins which lie in the dying days of World War Two Europe. These revelations set him off on a search for his past, against his better judgment and, initially, his own interest.

The story begins in the Pemberton Valley, north of Vancouver, and while most of the characters in it are fictitious, most of the events are not. The plot plays off actual events—including secret service activities only recently de-classified—and in some cases, actual people. It recounts an epic tale of Rochefort’s parents, their love and their efforts as part of the French resisitance fighting against the occupying Germans. It is a tale of happiness, and such sorrow as can only be partially remedied by the efforts of an outstanding and compassionate humanitarian, the Catholic Abbé Musty of Bastogne in Belgium. The unexpected events of war force the Abbé and his young students to escape across the hard-frozen, war-torn landscape. Inevitably, the story involves advancing German forces and the sinister depredations of the Gestapo and Heinrich Himmler’s Sicherheitsdienst.

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“Meticulous research and a cinematic sensibility have endowed The Gate with authentic power. The novel recreates the last year of the Second World War by focusing on a handful of individuals and how their lives were changed by the German occupation of France and Belgium, and I believe that Michael Elcock realizes his aim – to make us remember a period that is nearly forgotten, and must be recalled so that it never happens again.”

Isabel Huggan - Author of Belonging: Home Away from Home, winner of the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction