Gardens Of Stone: My Boyhood In The French Resistance, by Stephen Grady, hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, £20 (ebook £10.99).

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STEPHEN Grady was brought up in a small village near the Belgium border.

The son of a British First World War veteran, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre, the American Medal of Freedom, and a British mention in Dispatches for his efforts in the French Resistance during the Second World War.

Written in a simple, flinty prose befitting its subject matter, this war memoir/coming-of-age tale offers a fascinating vignette of the Second World War as it was lived in Nazi-occupied France.

Initially slow to get going, this is a gripping account, told with style and panache.

The excitement and sense of adventure Grady feels is poignantly contrasted with the darker moments that come as he eventually learns to kill.

It shows how a small band of courageous and heroic men held on to the values they believed in and pulled together in extraordinary circumstances.

Darren Heath