HELEN DAVIS FEATURED BOOK: LES PARISIENNES

 

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There have recently been several novels released about the lives of private citizens trying to survive the German occupation of Paris during WWII.  Lilac Girls, All the Light We Cannot See, and The House of Dreams have all used real life characters to enhance their stories.  Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved, and Died Under the Nazi Occupation by Anne Sebba is the non-fiction story of many of the brave women who either struggled against the Nazi regime or collaborated with the invaders and were then often prosecuted for their actions after the war ended.  Some of the names are ones we are familiar with, some are ones that we have never heard about.  The fashion designer Chanel was well known for selling to the Germans, then when the Americans arrived in Paris, they were given a free bottle of perfume for their wives or girlfriends.  Rose Valland, an employee of an art museum, managed to keep a detailed list of many of the art works that the Germans had removed from France which was useful in getting art works returned to their original owners. Many women’s actions are documented for the duration of the war.  My only criticism is that the book is divided into time periods, making it difficult to connect with a particular woman’s entire life story.

 

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Helen Davis Featured Book: Paris a Love Story

parisIn my opinion, journalists often write the best books.  Kati Marton has written an enjoyable memoir, Paris a Love Story, which focuses mainly on the periods of her life which were spent in Paris.  During the sixties she was an American student at the Sorbonne.  Paris was a time of wonder and enjoyment, and then the student riots began.  After she went home she drifted into reporting, eventually becoming a TV news reporter.  When she was transferred to Bonn, Germany she met and married ABC news anchor Peter Jennings.  Time in Paris was always a part of the background.  A second marriage was to renowned diplomat Richard Holbrooke and they were frequently in Paris together.  The book is a window on an exciting, absorbing life and a beautiful and charming city.

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