Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests








Monday, July 22, 2024

Nana - A 1927 Silent Film Directed by Jean Renoir- 2 Hours 27 Minutes. Available on YouTube with English Captions- A Paris in July 2024 Movie


 


Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art, Parisian history and more are very welcome. On the home page for the event you will inevitably discover perhaps new to you authors, movies as well as recipes to send you if you are lucky to Paris or at least the kitchen.

Nana - A 1927 Silent Film Directed by Jean Renoir- 2 Hours 27 Minutes. Available on YouTube with English Captions- A Paris in July 2024 Movie

Jean Renoir.

Born: September 15, 1894, Montmartre, Paris, France

Died: February 12, 1979 (age 84 years), Beverly Hills, California, United States 

Renoir's most famous films were made during the 1930s, including La Grande Illusion (1937), The Rules of the Game (1939), and The Woman on the Beach (1943). These films are all considered masterpieces of world cinema.

Renoir left France for the United States in 1941, and he made several films there, including The Southerner (1945) and The Diary of a Chambermaid (1946). He returned to France in 1949, and he continued to make films until his death in 1979.

Nana, Renoir's second film Nana is based a novel by the French naturalist author Émile Zola. Completed in 1880, Nana is the ninth installment in the 20-volume Les Rougon-Macquart series.

I very much enjoyed watching Nana. It is a strikingly good depiction of the transition of Nana from a girl from a very poor family, to a dancer in a burlesque show, to a prostitute and eventually a very wealthy courtesan, mistress to wealthy nobles. Renoir shows us the impact of Nana on the men in her life, they competed for her favour with extremely expensive gifts including a mansion. The sets are really well done. 

Nana is a bit sadistic but also a victim. Her servants added a lot to the movie.  There are undercurrents of Lesbian relationships.

Mel Ulm 
The Reading Life 






Sunday, July 21, 2024

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain - 2015. Translated from the French by Emily Boyce and Jane Aitkin - 242 Pages - A Paris in July 2024 Novel


 
Paris in July 2024

Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art, Parisian history and more are very welcome. On the home page for the event you will inevitably discover perhaps new to you authors, movies as well as recipes to send you if you are lucky to Paris or at least the kitchen.


The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain - 2015. Translated from the French by Emily Boyce and Jane Aitkin - 242 Pages - A Paris in July 2024 Novel


The Red Notebook is my introduction to Antoine Laurain.  I admit I never heard of him until I saw another of his novels as one of the gift books on the Paris in July 2024 homepage.   I loved this book. It really made me feel I was in Paris.


The Red Notebook opens with a terrible scene of the mugging of a woman, Lauren 


The Red Notebook is about Laurent, a bookseller you can’t help but like as you learn things about him, and Lauren, a woman whose mystery you’d want to know about as much as does Laurent, but she sadly is in a coma. On the way to the bookstore one morning, Laurent sees a beautiful bag thrown aside. After a bit of tinkering around with the bag, he thinks it was probably stolen and takes it to the police, but when the police do not help much, he decides to hand the bag to its owner.


However, in Paris, a city where millions of people live, of course, he cannot predict how he will find the owner of this bag, which has no identity. As we glance over the contents of the bag and especially read the contents of the red notebook, one cannot help but think that the bag’s owner is a fine person.

 This is the magic of The Red Notebook. The beautiful mystery combined with the charm of Paris and the beautiful world Laurain creates.

The Red Notebook is a full of fascinating literary references, Patrick Modiano even appears as a character, there is a suitably charming cat named Putin, lots of interesting  secondary characters, time in the bookstore.  The ending is emotionally gratifying.


"Antoine Laurain is a novelist, screenwriter, journalist, director and collector of antique keys. A truly born and bred Parisian, after studying film, he began his career directing short films and writing screenplays. His passion for art led him to take a job assisting an antiques dealer in Paris. The experience provided the inspiration for his first novel, The Portrait, winner of the Prix Drouot.


Antoine’s novels have been translated into over twenty languages, including Arabic and Korean. Sales of his books across all formats in English have surpassed 180,000 copies, and The Red Notebook (2015) has become one of Gallic Books’ bestsellers both in the UK and the USA, and has been selected for HRH the Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room.

Also published: French Rhapsody (2016), The Portrait (2017), Smoking Kills (2018) and Vintage 1954 (2019)." from Gallic Books 

I have already begun his latest novel An Astronomer in Love and hope to post upon it this month 


Mel Ulm

The Reading Life





Saturday, July 20, 2024

"The Orange Fish" - A Short Story by Carol Shields- 8 Pages - Included in The Collected Short Stories of Carol Shields - 2004


 
This year, Buried in Print, a marvelous blog I have followed for over ten years,is doing a read through of the short stories of Carol Shields. I hope to participate fully in this event.



The more I read in the stories of Carol Shields the more grateful I am to Buried in Print for turning me on to her work. There are sixty some stories in the collection,it is my hope to read and post on them all in 2024.


Like several of her other stories, in "The Orange Fish" in just a few pages Shields takes us into the dynamics of years of a less than perfect marriage. It also has a very strange intriguing ending.
"LIKE OTHERS OF MY GENERATION I am devoted to food, money and sex, but I have an ulcer and have been unhappily married to Lois-Ann, a lawyer, for twelve years. As you might guess, we are both fearful of aging. Recently Lois-Ann showed me an article she had clipped from the newspaper, a profile of a well-known television actress who was described as being “deep in her thirties.” “That’s what we are,” Lois-Ann said sadly, “deep in our thirties.” She looked at me from behind a lens of tears. Despite our incompatibility, the two of us understand each other, and I knew more or less what it was she was thinking: that some years ago, when she was twenty-five, she made up her mind to go to Vancouver Island and raise dahlias, but on the very day she bought her air ticket, she got a letter in the mail saying she’d been accepted at law school. “None of us writes our own script,” she said to me once, and of course she’s right. I still toy—I confess this to you freely—with my old fantasy of running a dude ranch, with the thought of well-rubbed saddles and harnesses and the whole sweet leathery tip of possibility, even though I know the dude market’s been depressed for a decade"

The Carol Shields Trust in a good source of information 

Clara Reads Proust by Stéphane Carlier - 2022 Translated from the French by Polly MacIntosh - 155 Pages- Paris in July 2024 Novel


 

Paris in July 2024


Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art, Parisian history and more are very welcome. On the home page for the event you will inevitably discover perhaps new to you authors, movies as well as recipes to send you if you are lucky to Paris or at least the kitchen.


Clara Reads Proust by Stéphane Carlier - 2022 Translated from French by Polly MacIntosh - 155 Pages- A Paris in July 2024 Novel

(This book is one of the prizes available to participants.)

Clara Reads Proust by Stéphane Carlier was a total delight. If you love Proust, Reading, Paris then you cannot go wrong with this marvelous novel. Plus there is a reallllly. neat cat, an inside look at a Parisian hair salon, and lots of fun stuff.


"Clara is a hairdresser at Cindy Coiffure, a sleepy French salon with an identity crisis. Her relationship is fizzling out. Her tanoholic boss Madame Habib worships Jacques Chirac and talks longingly of her days in Paris. The highlight of the week was when the dishy technician came to repair the display cabinet. And now Madame Lévy-Leroyer wants to go blonde. Clara can’t help but wonder if there’s more to life . . .


Everything changes when a customer leaves behind the first volume of In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust. As Clara reads, she discovers a whole new world, leading her to strike up an unexpected friendship. And slowly but surely, she will work out who she wants to be." From the Publisher 


90 percent of the novel has has Clara in her middle 20s.  An epilogue takes her decades forward where we see how Reading Proust completely transformed her life.


Stéphane Carlier grew up around Paris in the 1970s. He worked for the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs for several years, with whom he spent a decade in the United States. He has also lived in India and Portugal. Clara Reads Proust is his eighth novel and the first to be translated into English. Polly mackintosh is an editor and a translator from French. She has translated the work of Alain Ducasse, Antoine Laurain, Serge Joncour and early French feminist Marie-Louise Gagneur. She currently lives in London.

Friday, July 19, 2024

The Letters of Gustave Flaubert ; edited and translated from the French by Francis Steegmuller.- 2023 - 715 Pages - A Paris in July 2024 Work




Paris in July 2024


Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art, Parisian history and more are very welcome. On the home page for the event you will inevitably discover perhaps new to you authors, movies as well as recipes to send you if you are lucky to Paris or at least the kitchen.

The Letters of Gustave Flaubert / by Gustave Flaubert; edited and translated from the French by Francis Steegmuller.- 2023 - 715 Pages - A Paris in July 2024 Work

Gustave Flaubert 


Born 12 - 12 - 1821

Madame Bovary - 1857

Salammbó 1862

Sentimental Education 1869

The Temptation of Saint Anthony 1874

Dies 5- 8 - 1882

 Madame Bovary is without dispute among the greatest of all novels. Sentimental Education is masterpiece. His other two novels are "strange".  


The Letters of Gustave Flaubert -edited and translated from the French by Francis Steegmuller.- 2023 - 715 Pages is an extraordinarly valuable work for all seriously into Flaubert but lacking fluency in French.



--“If there is one article of faith that dominates the Credo of Gustave Flaubert’s correspondence,” Francis Steegmuller writes in the introduction to this selection of Flaubert’s letters, “it is that the function of great art is not to provide ‘answers.’” The Letters of Gustave Flaubert is above all a record of the intransigent questions—personal, political, artistic—with which Flaubert struggled throughout his life.

Here we have Flaubert’s youthful, sensual outpourings to his mistress, the poet Louise Colet, and, as he advances, still unknown, into his thirties, the wrestle to write Madame Bovary. We hear, too, of his life-changing trip to Egypt, as described to family and friends, and then there are lively exchanges with Baudelaire, with the influential critic Sainte-Beuve, and with Guy de Maupassant, his young protégé. Flaubert’s letters to George Sand reveal her as the great confidante of his later years.

Steegmuller’s book, a classic in its own right, is both a splendid life of Flaubert in his own words and the ars poetica of the master who laid the foundations for modern writers from James Joyce to Lydia Davis. Originally issued in two volumes, the book appears here for the first time under a single cover.-- From The New York Review of Books




 

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to The Revolution by Caroline Weber - 2007 - A Paris in July 2024 Work


Paris in July 2024 

Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art, Parisian history and more are very welcome. On the home page for the event you will inevitably discover perhaps new to you authors, movies as well as recipes to send you if you are lucky to Paris or at least the kitchen.

Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to The Revolution by Caroline Weber - 2007 - A Paris in July 2024 Work



Marie Antoinette 

Queen of France 1755-1793

Born - October 16,1730 - Vienna

Marries (at age 14) May 16,1770
the heir to the throne of France in an arrangement meant to build an alliance between the Hapsburgs and the Bourbons

May 10, 1774 - her husband succeeds to the throne as Louis XVI

Bastille Day - July 14, 1789

Executed- September 3, 1792

"When her carriage first crossed over from her native Austria into France, fourteen-year-old Marie Antoinette was taken out, stripped naked before an entourage, and dressed in French attire to please the court of her new king. For a short while, the young girl played the part.

But by the time she took the throne, everything had changed. In Queen of Fashion, Caroline Weber tells of the radical restyling that transformed the young queen into an icon and shaped the future of the nation. With her riding gear, her white furs, her pouf hairstyles, and her intricate ballroom disguises, Marie Antoinette came to embody--gloriously and tragically--all the extravagance of the monarchy." From Publisher 

As Weber vividly details as the wife of a future king, every aspect of the life of Marie Antoinette was prescribed by rigid etiquette.  At the huge Palace in Versailles there were  nobles whose only function might be giving Marie water, putting on her shoes. Arriving shy from a sheltered less rigid life in the Hapsburgs court, Marie was at first overwhelmed. Slowly she became a favourite of her husband's grandfather. This brought her into conflict with his mistress Madame de Pompadour. Many at the court did not want an alliance with the Hapsburgs.



Her only purpose as Weber explains was to produce an heir to the throne.  However her husband was either too shy or simply not interested in having sex with her.  In the intense gossip of the court this was portrayed as her fault. (They would eventually have four children.)

Weber's focus in on the clothing worn by Marie, her make up, and the incredibly elaborate hairstyles worn at court.  Tradition demanded she have the most expensive outfits.  

Weber also provides a detailed very informative social and political account of the period.  

Caroline Weber (Barnard) is a Professor of French specialized in the literature and history of the 17th- and 18th-century royal court, the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution. At Columbia, she has offered seminars on Rousseau, modern literary theory, May 1968, and Images of the French Revolution, team-taught with Professor Elisabeth Ladenson. A graduate of Harvard (A.B., summa cum laude) and Yale (M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.), she was a junior faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania before coming to Barnard and Columbia in 2005; she has also been a visiting professor at Princeton. Focused on the intersections between literary, political, and visual culture (including fashion), she has contributed articles to such scholarly journals as PMLA, Philosophy and Literature, Eighteenth-Century Culture, and Nineteenth-Century French Studies, and to such mainstream publications as the New York Times, the London Review of Books, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, W magazine, Town & Country, and Vogue. Professor Weber has published the following books: Fragments of Revolution (Yale UP 2002), an anthology of essays coedited with H.G. Lay; Terror and Its Discontents: Suspect Words in Revolutionary France (U of Minnesota P 2003); Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution (Holt 2006/Picador 2007), a New York Times Notable Book and a Washington Post Best Book of the Year; and Proust's Duchess: How Three Celebrated Women Captured the Imagination of Fin-de-Siècle Paris (Knopf 2018), a finalist for the American Library of Paris Book Prize and the winner of the French Heritage Society Literary Award. 

Mel Ulm 
The Reading Life 



Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Paris Echo- 2018 - by Sebastian Faulks. - 278 Pages - A Paris in July Novel


Paris Echo.- 2018 - by Sebastian Faulks. - 278 Pages - A Paris in July 2024 Work

Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art, Parisian history and more are very welcome



"A haunting portrait of Paris past and present from the bestselling author of Birdsong.

'Superb... Weaves winningly between the present and the Second World War, between Tangier and Paris' Observer

American academic Hannah and runaway Moroccan teenager Tariq have little in common, yet both find themselves haunted by the ghosts of Paris.

Hannah listens to the extraordinary witness of women living under the German Occupation and finds a city bursting with clues, connections and past love affairs, while in the migrant suburbs Tariq is searching for a mother he barely knew. Urgent and deeply moving, Paris Echo asks how much we really need to know in order to live a valuable life." Penquin House 

 My feelings on Paris Echo are mixed. I found the two central characters overly concerned with seeking out sexual partners in Paris. I am glad I did drag myself to the end of Paris Echo. The most interesting aspects of the book were the stories of Parisian women who lived through the war.

Mel Ulm
The Reading Life


Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Black Orpheus- A 1959 Film Directed by Michael Camus - A Paris in July 2024 Movie


 Black Orpheus- A 1959 Film Directed by Michael Camus - A Paris in July 2024 Movie

Paris in July 2024

Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art, Parisian history and more are very welcome. On the home page for the event you will inevitably discover perhaps new to you authors, movies as well as recipes to send you if you are lucky to Paris or at least the kitchen.

Set in the favellas of Rio de Janeiro, filmed in luscious color, Black Orpheus is a retelling of the Greek myth of Eurydice and Orpheus. I found myself pondering comparisons between Black Orpheus and Orphée directed by Jean Cocteau.


At the film's genesis, we’re introduced to sun-kissed beauty Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn), in a trance of confusion but determined to reunite with her cousin Serafina (Léa Garcia). The lusciously long days ushers in each character like a storybook play, intentionally yet with a sprinkle of wanderlust so they’re not one-dimensional. Orpheus (Breno Mello) is a bubbly man who is not interested in his pestering, yet bombastic beauty of a girlfriend Mira (Lourdes de Oliveira). Her insecurity and Orpheus’ lack of commitment pulls a strain on their relationship, eventually leaving a gaping hole for Eurydice to fall in between. This love triangle of sorts is played out theatrically intertwining us with each character, their dreams and eventual disaster. Ultimately our two lovers’ fated union cannot be tarnished, showing the power of destiny.

Black Orpheus won the Palme d'Or at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival,[9] the 1960 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film,[10] the 1960 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film and was nominated for the 1961 BAFTA Award for Best Film.


"Marcel Camus (born April 21, 1912, Chappes, Ardennes, Fr.—died Jan. 13, 1982, Paris) was a French motion-picture director who won international acclaim for his second film, Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) in 1958. The film was praised for its use of exotic settings and brilliant spectacle and won first prize at both the Cannes and Venice film festivals as well as an Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences." From Enclopedia Britannica 


Monday, July 15, 2024

The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough - 2011 - 578 Pages - A Paris in July 2024 Work


The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough - 2021 

Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art, Parisian history and more are very welcome



"#1 bestseller that tells the remarkable story of the generations of American artists, writers, and doctors who traveled to Paris, fell in love with the city and its people, and changed America through what they learned, told by America’s master historian, David McCullough.

Not all pioneers went west.

In The Greater Journey, David McCullough tells the enthralling, inspiring—and until now, untold—story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, and others who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, hungry to learn and to excel in their work. What they achieved would profoundly alter American history.

Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in America, was one of this intrepid band. Another was Charles Sumner, whose encounters with black students at the Sorbonne inspired him to become the most powerful voice for abolition in the US Senate. Friends James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel F. B. Morse worked unrelentingly every day in Paris, Morse not only painting what would be his masterpiece, but also bringing home his momentous idea for the telegraph. Harriet Beecher Stowe traveled to Paris to escape the controversy generated by her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Three of the greatest American artists ever—sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, painters Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent—flourished in Paris, inspired by French masters.

Almost forgotten today, the heroic American ambassador Elihu Washburne bravely remained at his post through the Franco-Prussian War, the long Siege of Paris, and the nightmare of the Commune. His vivid diary account of the starvation and suffering endured by the people of Paris is published here for the first time.

Telling their stories with power and intimacy, McCullough brings us into the lives of remarkable men and women who, in Saint-Gaudens’ phrase, longed “to soar into the blue." From Simon and Schuster 

This remarkable book made me feel like I was a very close observer of Americans in Paris, artists, writers,medical students, diplomats and young men out for an adventure. Back in Boston and New York City, Paris,was seen as a city of great culture and a history going back 1000 plus years. But parents sometimes worried about their adult children going there unsupervised.

McCullough talks a lot about American artists copying and being inspired by works in the Louvre. There is a chapter on American medical students studying at Paris hospitals which details a cholera epidemic. One on art lessons and sculpture techniques the visitors experienced. Some visitors lived in splendor on large allowances, some struggled to survive. All were permanently changed by Paris.

David McCullough (1933–2022) twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback. His other acclaimed books include The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, Brave Companions, 1776, The Greater Journey, The American Spirit, The Wright Brothers, and The Pioneers. He was the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. 

Mel Ulm 
The Reading Life



 

Sunday, July 14, 2024

"Others" - 18 Pages - A Short Story by Carol Shields - Included in The Collected Stories of Carol Shields - 2004


 

This year, Buried in Print, a marvelous blog I have followed for over ten years,is doing a read through of the short stories of Carol Shields. I hope to participate fully in this event.


The more I read in the stories of Carol Shields the more grateful I am to Buried in Print for turning me on to her work. There are sixty some stories in the collection,it is my hope to read and post on them all in 2024.

"Others", one of the longer stories in the collection, is the 22nd story by Carol Shields I have so far read.  Begins with a recently married couple in vacation in France.  At the request of a stranger they cash his personal check for $50.  He sends them the amount to their address back in Canada and around  Christmas for the next twenty years he sends then a brief letter saying how he and his wife are doing.

Shields traces the peeks and vallies of the couple marriage. He becomes a doctor, they have children.  

"Others" is a   miniature masterpiece.

The Carol Shields Literary Trust has lots of data on her life and work.

Chanel’s Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930–1944 by Anne de Courcy.- 2021' A Paris in July 2024 Work


Chanel’s Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930–1944 by Anne de Courcy.- 2021  - A Paris in July 2024 Work

Paris in July 2024


 Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art, Parisian history and more are very 



Coco Chanel 

Born August 19, 1893 Saumur, France

Died January 10, 1971 Paris 

Events During 1940 

12 June: The 51st Highland Division surrendered to German forces due to being surrounded.

13 June: Paris was declared an open city by the French government as the government fled to Bordeaux.

14 June: German troops entered the French capital of Paris.

16 June: French Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain became the prime minister of France, replacing Paul Reynaud. Operation Aerial and Operation Cycle took place by evacuating around 150,000 Allied soldiers from French ports of Cherbourg, St. Malo, Brest, St. Nazaire, La Pallice, Nantes, and Le Havre.

17 June: Petain asked Germany for armistice terms. Finishing off some Allied resistance, the Germans crossed the river Loire and reached the Swiss frontier.

18 June: Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini met in Munich Germany. General de Gaulle told the people of France on a broadcast from London on the BBC to resist the Germans.

22 June: France signed an armistice with Germany.

23 June: Adolf Hitler toured captured Paris.

24 June: The French officially surrendered at Compiegne, the site of the German World War I surrender

Chanel’s Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930–1944 by Anne de Courcy is primarily set in the French Riviera.  The Riviera was during the years of the book a playground and a retreat for the rich of Paris and England.

" In this captivating narrative, Chanel’s Riviera explores the fascinating world of the Cote d’Azur during a period that saw the deepest extremes of luxury and terror in the twentieth century.

The Cote d’Azur in 1938 was a world of wealth, luxury, and extravagance, inhabited by a sparkling cast of characters including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Joseph P. Kennedy, Gloria Swanson, Colette, the Mitfords, Picasso, Cecil Beaton, and Somerset Maugham. The elite flocked to the Riviera each year to swim, gamble, and escape from the turbulence plaguing the rest of Europe. At the glittering center of it all was Coco Chanel, whose very presence at her magnificently appointed villa, La Pausa, made it the ultimate place to be. Born an orphan, her beauty and formidable intelligence allured many men, but it was her incredible talent, relentless work ethic, and exquisite taste that made her an icon.

But this wildly seductive world was poised on the edge of destruction. In a matter of months, France surrendered to the Germans and the glamour of the pre-war parties and casinos gave way to the horrors of evacuation and the displacement of thousands of families during World War II. From the bitter struggle to survive emerged powerful stories of tragedy, sacrifice, and heroism.

Enriched by original research and de Courcy’s signature skill, Chanel’s Riviera brings the experiences of both rich and poor, protected and persecuted, to vivid life." From the Publisher Macmillan

The book focuses on the rich and famous.  Edward VIII and his wife Walace Simpson, Somerset Maugham and the various romantic partners of Coco Chanel are the most featured persons.  Included are details of Coco's involvement with a Nazi major and her life in the Ritz. There is historical data on Vichey France and the Germans in the Riviera.  When advised to leave by their government some wealthy British residents drove their Rolls limousines into the sea rather than let Germans or Italians get them. For those who stayed, getting food could be a challenge except for the rich.

We also learn of both the massive retreat from Paris as well as those who accepted German victory and used it as an excuse to steal the property of French Jews.  In this book Coco comes across as an oportunist at times and at times genuinely kind.

"Anne de Courcy is a well-known writer, journalist and book reviewer. In the 1970s she was Woman’s Editor on the London Evening News until its demise in 1980, when she joined the Evening Standard as a columnist and feature-writer. In 1982 she joined the Daily Mail as a feature writer, with a special interest in historical subjects, leaving in 2003 to concentrate on books, on which she has talked widely both here and in the United States.

A critically-acclaimed and best-selling author, she believes that as well as telling the story of its subject’s life, a biography should depict the social history of the period, since so much of action and behaviour is governed not simply by obvious financial, social and physical conditions but also by underlying, often unspoken, contemporary attitudes, assumptions, standards and moral codes.

Anne is the Chairman of the Biographers’ Club; and a past judge of their annual Prize. Her recent biographies, all of which have been serialised, include THE VICEROY’S DAUGHTERS, DIANA MOSLEY and DEBS AT WAR and SNOWDON; THE BIOGRAPHY, written with the agreement and co-operation of the Earl of Snowdon. Based on Anne’s book, a Channel 4 documentary “Snowdon and Margaret: Inside a Royal Marriage”, was broadcast on Wednesday 25th June 2008 at 9pm.

THE FISHING FLEET: HUSBAND-HUNTING IN THE RAJ, was published in July 2012. Her most recent book, MARGOT AT WAR: LOVE AND BETRAYAL IN DOWNING STREET, 1912-1916, published in November 2014, was shortlisted for the Paddy Power Political Book of the Year award." From the author’s website

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman (2000) - A Paris in July Biography

Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman (2000) - A Paris in July Biography



Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art, Parisian history and more are very welcome. On the home page for the event you will inevitably discover perhaps new to you authors, movies and recipes to send you if you are lucky to Paris or at least the kitchen.



If Paris is the city of love, then Colette (Sidione-Gabreelle Colette 1873 to 1954) is the high priestess.  For many their image of Paris derives from memories of the movie, Gigi, made from her probably most famous work.  Living to almost eighty, she produced eighty volumes of writings of all sorts.  When she passed in 1954 she was given the first ever state funeral for a French 

I do not wish to sketch out much of Colette's life.  I will just talk about a few aspects of her life that I learned about from the biography, things that struck me.

Of course I goggled her and I saw all the images from her days dancing semi-nude on the stage, working to support herself, performing as a mime.  Physically Colette embodied the erotic ideal of the era.  As Thurman shows us,she  loved the world of the theater.  Colette married three times.  She was actively involved with a group of aristocratic Parisian lesbians know as "The Amazons".  

Thurman goes into great detail concerning the various marriages of Colette, her relationship with her parents and her own daughter.  She had many friends and lovers and her life was full of drama.  We see her develop as a writer and we marvel at her incredible productivity.  

Colette the as not and ideologically driven intellectual like other French writers of the period.  She wrote about sex, relationships, food, the theater, the people of Paris.  As she grew older she gained a lot of weight but she carried it without shame and attracted long term lovers of both sexes much younger than she was.   Colette moved a lot and we get to visit with her all over France.

During the German occupation of Paris she did publish her work in journals and papers that carried virulent anti-Semetic articles. One of her stories was published in a magazine that had an ad for one of Hitler's books.  To me and as depicted by Thurman, though not all agree, her actions do not appear to be collaboration, just a largely apolitical woman of the world accepting what seemed like the reality of the times.  Her husband in this period was Jewish and he was detained for a while by the Gestapo and she worked very hard on achieving his release, which did happen.  

Judith Thurman intersperses literary exegesis with the details of Colette's life in a very skillful and interesting fashion.  The book is also a rich source of cultural data of the period, especially the world of lesbian and gay Paris, among the upper classes.  

The book shows Colette grow old and sick but still powerful. 

With Marcel Proust as the greatest French writer of the 20th century, Colette was second.  It seems without much   dispute she is the greatest female writer in French history, with apologies to George Sand.  

This is a first rate biography of a great writer from whom we can all still learn much.



Mel Ulm 
The Reading Life 


Friday, July 12, 2024

The Only Street in Paris - Life on the Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino- 2015- A Paris in July 2024 Work - Memoir




 

Paris in July 2024

Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art, Parisian history and more are very welcome. On the home page for the event you will inevitably discover perhaps new to you authors, movies as well as recipes to send you if you are lucky to Paris or at least the kitchen.

The Only Street in Paris - Life on the Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino- 2015-

Combining Parisian history, a detailed account an off the tourist track street with her memoirs as a New Yorker settling into Paris, Elaine Sciolino
has given us a delightful work.

On this street, the patron saint of France was beheaded and the Jesuits took their first vows. It was here that Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted circus acrobats, Emile Zola situated a lesbian dinner club in his novel Nana, and François Truffaut filmed scenes from The 400 Blows. Sciolino reveals the charms and idiosyncrasies of this street and its longtime residents—the Tunisian greengrocer, the husband-and-wife cheesemongers, the showman who’s been running a transvestite cabaret for more than half a century, the owner of a 100-year-old bookstore, the woman who repairs eighteenth-century mercury barometers—bringing Paris alive in all of its unique majesty. 
I found The Only Street in Paris - Life on the Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino to be a charming work. I hope to include her The Seine: The River That Made Paris among my reads for this month.

"Elaine Sciolino is a contributing writer and former Paris bureau chief for The New York Times, based in France since 2002. 

Her latest book, The Seine: The River That Made Paris, published by W.W. Norton & Company in 2019, was named by Barnes & Noble as its nonfiction choice for October 2020. In a review in The New York Times, Edmund White, the National Book Award winner, called Sciolino “a graceful, companionable writer, someone who speaks about France in the most enjoyably American way.... [She] has laid one more beautiful and amusing wreath on the altar of the City of Light.” The Times Literary Supplement called The Seine a book of “touching storytelling” and “an engaging and informative exploration of the city.” David A. Bell, Professor of History at Princeton University, said, “Sciolino writes with the authority of a historian, the sleuthing skills of a journalist, and the voice of a storyteller eager to recount the tales of those who have been touched by the Seine.”  

Her previous book, The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs, published in 2015, was a New York Times best seller. The New York Times wrote that “she has Paris at her feet;” the Chicago Tribune called her “a storyteller at heart.” 

Sciolino was decorated chevalier of the Legion of Honor, the highest honor of the French state, in 2010 for her “special contribution” to the friendship between France and the United States. 

In 2019, Sciolino became a member of the Executive Committee of Reporters Without Borders, the Paris-based international advocacy organization promoting freedom of information and freedom of the press. In 2018, she received an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from the University of London." From the author’s website

Mel Ulm 
The Reading Life 










 

Thursday, July 11, 2024

In the Cafe of Lost Youth by Patrick Modiano ;2007 - translated by Chris Clarke.2016 - A Paris in July 2024 Work


Paris in July 2024

 Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art, Paris history and more are very welcome



In the Cafe of Lost Youth by Patrick Modiano ;2007 - translated by Chris Clarke.2016 - A Paris in July 2024 Work


Patrick Modiano, winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize for literature and an internationally beloved novelist, has been honored with an array of prizes, including the 2010 Prix mondial Cino Del Duca by the Institut de France for lifetime achievement and the 2012 Austrian State Prize for European Literature. He lives in Paris. 

In the Cafe of Lost Youth is the sixth work by Patrick Modiano I have featured during a Paris in July event.

The Café of Lost Youth is vintage Patrick Modiano, an absorbing evocation of a particular Paris of the 1950s, shadowy and shady, a secret world of writers, criminals, drinkers, and drifters. The novel, inspired in part by the circle (depicted in the photographs of Ed van der Elsken) of the notorious and charismatic Guy Debord, centers on the enigmatic, waiflike figure of Louki, who catches everyone’s attention even as she eludes possession or comprehension. Through the eyes of four very different narrators, including Louki herself, we contemplate her character and her fate, while Modiano explores the themes of identity, memory, time, and forgetting that are at the heart of his spellbinding and deeply moving art. 

For those new to Modiano I suggest you start with his Occupation Trilogy set in Nazi controlled Paris.

In the Cafe of Lost Youth is a powerful account of being young and not so young in parts of Paris out of the affluent areas.  It features a book store as a central setting and has numerous wonderful literary references 

Mel Ulm


Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Orphée (Orpheus) - Directed by Jean Cocteau- 1950 - 135 Minutes - A Paris in July Movie (available on YouTube)



Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art, Parisian history and more are very welcome. On the home page for the event you will inevitably discover perhaps new to you authors, movies as well as recipes to send you if you are lucky to Paris or at least the kitchen.
Orphée (Orpheus) - Directed by Jean Cocteau- 1950 - 135 Minutes - A Paris in July Movie (available on YouTube)

  
Jean Cocteau (born July 5, 1889, Maisons-Laffitte, near Paris, France—died October 11, 1963, Milly-la-Forêt, near Paris) was a French poet, librettist, novelist, actor, film director, and painter. Some of his most important works include the poem L’Ange Heurtebise (1925; “The Angel Heurtebise”); the play Orphée (1926; Orpheus); the novels Les Enfants terribles (1929; “The Incorrigible Children”; Eng. trans. Children of the Game or The Holy Terrors) and La Machine infernale (1934; The Infernal Machine); and his surrealistic motion pictures Le Sang d’un poète (1930; The Blood of a Poet) and La Belle et la bête (1946; Beauty and the Beast).


In Greek mythology, Orpheus is a talented musician who travels to the underworld to bring back his dead wife, Eurydice. Upon entering the realm of the undead, the mournful music that Orpheus sings and plucks from his lyre convinces Pluto, the God of the underworld, to allow him to return to earth with Eurydice on the condition that he does not turn back until he has left the underworld. Failing to keep this promise, Orpheus turns to glance at Eurydice and loses her forever. The centrepiece of a trilogy that begins with Le Sang d’un Poète (The Blood of a Poet, 1930) and concludes with Le Testament d’Orphée (Testament of Orpheus, 1960), Jean Cocteau’s 1950 imagining of the tragedy reframes Orpheus as the title character, Orphée (Jean Marais) – a famous poet who is both loved and reviled by the Parisian avant-garde in equal measure. Like Orpheus, he will lose his Eurydice (Maria Déa) in death to a shadowy otherworld that is not ruled by Gods but governed by an emotionless tribunal, inhabited by an enigmatic woman known as the Princess (María Casares), who is also a manifestation of death.

I hope to watch at least one more film directed by Cocteau this month




Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Cheri by Colette - 1920 - Included in Chéri; and The End of the Chéri / by Colette; translated from the French by Paul Eprile; introduced by Judith Thurman.- 2022


 
Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art and more are very welcome

 

If Paris is the city of love, then Colette (Sidione-Gabreelle Colette 1873 to 1954) is the high priestess. For many their image of Paris derives from memories of the movie, Gigi, made from her probably most famous work. Living to almost eighty, she produced eighty volumes of writings of all sorts. When she passed in 1954 she was given the first ever state funeral for a French woman. She is an LGTGQ icon and she loved cats.

Cheri by Colette - 1920 - Included in Chéri; and The End of the Chéri / by Colette; translated from the French by Paul Eprile; introduced by Judith Thurman.- 2022

"Colette’s Chéri (1920) and its sequel, The End of Chéri (1926), are widely considered her masterpieces. In sensuous, elegant prose, the two novels explore the evolving inner lives and the intimate relationship of an unlikely couple: Léa de Lonval, a middle-aged former courtesan, and Fred Peloux, twenty-five years her junior, known as Chéri. The two have been involved for years, and it is time for Chéri to get on with life, to make something of himself, but he, the personification of male beauty and vanity, doesn’t know how to go about it. It is time, too, for Léa to let go of Chéri and the sensual life that has been hers, and yet this is more easily resolved than done. Chéri marries, but once married he is restless and is inevitably drawn back to his mistress, as she is to him. And yet to reprise their relationship is only to realize even more the inevitability of its end. That end will come when Chéri, back from World War I, encounters a world that the war has changed through and through. Lost in his memories of time past, he is irremediably lost to the busy present. Paul Eprile’s new translation of these two celebrated novels brings out a vivid sensuality and acute intelligence that past translations have failed to capture." From The New York Review of Books.

I hope to feature The End of Cheri later in the month. Additionally I highly recommend Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman (2000)




Sunday, July 7, 2024

Jacqueline in Paris - A Novel . By Ann Mah.-2022 - 322 Pages-A Paris in July 2924 Work


 Jacqueline in Paris - A Novel . By Ann Mah.-2022 - 322 Pages-A Paris in July 2924 Work

Paris in July 2024

Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art, Parisian history and more are very welcome. On the home page for the event you will inevitably discover perhaps new to you books, movies and recipes to send you if you are lucky to Paris or at least the kitchen.


During Paris in July 2022 I read a marvelous book, Mastering the Art  of French Eating:Lessons in Food and Love from a Year  in Paris by Ann Mah. 2015 - 273 Pages 

I am very glad to have  an opportunity to post on another set in 
in Paris novel  by Ann Mah during this year's Paris in July.

Jacqueline in Paris is a first person narrative of the experiences of Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of President John Kennedy, of her year spent in Paris as part of a year abroad program at Vassar College in 1949 up to her return on an official visit as the wife of the president in June of 1961.  She tells the story from her memories after his assassination.

The work with her life with her divorced from her father mother who has very strict expectations for her.  Her mother remarried for money.  The only proper life for a girl according to her mother was a wife to a wealthy young man from the right sort of family.  She told Jacqueline to hide her intelligence as it would turn away potential suitors.  She also remains close to her alcoholic father with a reputation as a philander.


"September 1949 Jacqueline Bouvier arrives in postwar Paris to begin her junior year abroad. She’s twenty years old, socially poised but financially precarious, and all too aware of her mother’s expectations that she make a brilliant match. Before relenting to family pressure, she has one year to herself far away from sleepy Vassar College and the rigid social circles of New York, a year to explore and absorb the luminous beauty of the City of Light. Jacqueline is immediately catapulted into an intoxicating new world of champagne and châteaux, art and avant-garde theater, cafés and jazz clubs. She strikes up a romance with a talented young writer who shares her love of literature and passion for culture – even though her mother would think him most unsuitable.

But beneath the glitter and rusho France is a fragile place still haunted by the Occupation. Jacqueline lives in a rambling apartment with a widowed countess and her daughters, all of whom suffered as part of the French Resistance just a few years before. In the aftermath of World War II, Paris has become a nest of spies, and suspicion, deception, and betrayal lurk around every corner. Jacqueline is stunned to watch the rise of communism – anathema in America, but an active movement in France – never guessing she is witnessing the beginning of the political environment that will shape the rest of her life—and that of her future husband.

Evocative, sensitive, and rich in historic detail, Jacqueline in Paris portrays the origin story of an American icon. Ann Mah brilliantly imagines the intellectual and aesthetic awakening of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, and illuminates how France would prove to shape her life" from the Publisher 

Ann Mah is an American food and travel writer. She is the author of the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller The Lost Vintage, as well as three other books. She contributes regularly to the New York Times Travel section, and her articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Condé Nast Traveler, The Best American Travel Writing, The New York Times Footsteps, Washingtonian magazine, Vogue.com, BonAppetit.com, Food52.com, TheKitchn.com, and other publications.

I hope to read this month another of her set in France novels, The Lost Vintage.




Thursday, July 4, 2024

And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi Occupied Paris by Alan Riding - 2010 - 433 Pages - A Paris in July 2024 Work


 Paris in July 2024

Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art and more are very welcome.  

Works I have so far featured for Paris in July 2024

1. The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

2. A Waiter in Paris: Adventures in the Dark Heart of the City by Edward Chisholm -2022- 

3. And The Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi Occupied Paris by Alan Riding - 2010



And The Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi Occupied Paris by Alan Riding is a very comprehensive account of how all aspects of the arts and those involved in them were impacted by German domination of Paris during World War II.  Parisians had a wide range of responses.  Some were active supporters of fasicism, others figured Nazi domination was permanent and just thought it prudent to go along while others actively resisted, sacrificing their lives to oppose the Nazis,

"The book shows that there was no black and white when it came to resisting and collaborating. Riding is not unsympathetic to collabos. Instead, he traces how they came to be by painting an elaborate picture of the terror of the German invasion, the collapse of French morale following the first world war, the immense humiliation and fear of a defeated population. There are sections, too, on the rise of fascist writers like Pierre Drieu La Rochelle (who called for a pure-blooded France, free of Jews, liberals and gypsies) and the background of Charles Maurras, founder of the rightwing Action Française, which became especially virulent when the Jewish liberal Léon Blum became prime minister in 1936.

And what of the artists themselves, the ones who simply wanted to get on with their work, and not be bothered with politics? After the war Sartre said that writers and artists had a duty to tell their countrymen "not to be ruled by Germans". But there were still plenty who boarded trains to Munich and Berlin with bright smiles for solidarity tours of Germany. We all say we would never have done it. No one wanted to be a Maurice Chevalier or Sacha Guitry singing their hearts out or writing plays for Germans, but Riding points out that even these scorned men were not exactly collabos. They also helped Jewish friends while hanging out with the high-ranking Germans in charge of the cultural world. After all, Riding writes, the Germans had champagne and food and wonderful parties while many Parisians were living on onions and freezing from lack of coal.

Some artists, such as Édith Piaf, also went to Germany or consorted with Germans as a means to an end – to get French prisoners of wars freed in exchange for their presence on German soil. Others did so out of fear, or plain survival: most were sure that there would be a German victory and they wanted to ensure that they would be able to carry on their life's work.

And the Show Went On is a much larger history than its title suggests. It is about cultural life in Paris, but it is also a book about society and politics in the years leading up to the war. Riding takes on an immense topic and succeeds in demonstrating that even through war and sorrow and misery, art was created, books were written and, in the worse moments of destruction, there was also creation." From The Guardian 

I cannot imagine there being a better book on the topic than that of Alan Riding.

For 12 years, Alan Riding was the European cultural correspondent for the New York Times. He was previously bureau chief for the Times in Paris, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, and Mexico City. Riding is the author of And the Show Went On and Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans. He lives in Paris with his wife, Marlise Simons, a writer for the Times.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

A Waiter in Paris: Adventures in the Dark Heart of the City by Edward Chisholm -2022- 382 Pages - A Paris in July 2024



 Works I have so far featured for Paris in July 2024

1. The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

2. A Waiter in Paris: Adventures in the Dark Heart of the City by Edward Chisholm -2022- 

A Waiter in Paris: Adventures in the Dark Heart of the City by Edward Chisholm is kind of a contemporary remake of Down and Out in Paris and London, 1933,  by George Orwell.  One of my never to be realised dreams was to take my wife to a five starred restaurant in Paris.  Sometimes you are better off  not knowing too much of what hidden from the public, as Edward Chisholm from London does in his account of working in Parisian restaurants.

"An evocative portrait of the underbelly of contemporary Paris as seen through the eyes of a young waiter scraping out a living in the City of Light.

A waiter's job is to deceive you. They want you to believe in a luxurious calm because on the other side of that door . . . is hell.

Edward Chisholm's spellbinding memoir of his time as a Parisian waiter takes you beneath the surface of one of the most iconic cities in the world—and right into its glorious underbelly.

He inhabits a world of inhuman hours, snatched sleep and dive bars; scraping by on coffee, bread and cigarettes, often under sadistic managers, with a wage so low you're fighting your colleagues for tips. Your colleagues—including thieves, narcissists, ex-soldiers, immigrants, wannabe actors, and drug dealers—are the closest thing to family that you've got.

It's physically demanding, frequently humiliating and incredibly competitive. But it doesn't matter because you're in Paris, the center of the universe, and there's nowhere else you'd rather be in the world." -from The Publisher Simon and Schuster 

Edward Chisholm was born in England and moved to Paris after graduating from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. A resident in the City of Lights for seven years, Chisholm spent the first four of them working all manner of low-paid restaurant jobs, from waiting and bartending, while trying to build a career as a writer. Now Chisholm makes a living as a freelance writer. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Financial Times magazine. He lives in England.



Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History by Rhonda K. Garelick- 2014- 732 Pages - A Paris in July Work


Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History by Rhonda K. Garelick- 2014- 732 Pages - A Paris in July Work




 Paris in July does not just include books. Contributions on your Paris vacation, your favourite meal or restaurant, French movies, music, art and more are very welcome.

Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel

Born August 19, 1893 Saumur, France

Died January 10, 1971 Paris 



On July First our youngest daughter graduated from medical school,. After the ceremony the family had an observational luncheon at an elegant Manila restaurant.  The graduate was wearing  a little black dress and a string of pearls.  I know Mademoiselle Chanel would have approved.


Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History by Rhonda K. Garelick- 2014- 732 Pages - is a brilliant account of the life of Chanel and the era in which she lived and reigned.

Coco Chanel transformed forever the way women dressed. Her influence remains so pervasive that to this day we can see her afterimage a dozen times while just walking down a single street: in all the little black dresses, flat shoes, costume jewelry, cardigan sweaters, and tortoiseshell eyeglasses on women of every age and background. A bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume is sold every three seconds. Arguably, no other individual has had a deeper impact on the visual aesthetic of the world. But how did a poor orphan become a global icon of both luxury and everyday style while achieving incredible wealth? How did she develop such vast, undying influence? And what does our ongoing love of all things Chanel tell us about ourselves? These are the mysteries that Rhonda Garelick unravels.

Chanel was born into poverty in rural France, abandoned to an orphanage with her sisters by her father, at 19 she attracted the attention of a wealthy man who sponsored her as a milliner. She gave her hats to high fashion wealthy Parisian ladies, soon her sponsor set her up in a shop. 

At age 23 Chanel met a young French ex-cavalry officer and textile heir, Étienne Balsan. At the age of twenty-three, Chanel became Balsan's mistress, supplanting the courtesan Émilienne d'Alençon as his new favourite. For the next three years, she lived with him in his château Royallieu near Compiègne, an area known for its wooded equestrian paths and the hunting life.It was a lifestyle of self-indulgence. Balsan's wealth allowed the cultivation of a social set that reveled in partying and the gratification of human appetites, with all the implied accompanying decadence. Balsan showered Chanel with the baubles of "the rich life"—diamonds, dresses, and pearls. Balsan needed a heir and his family would never have accepted Chanel as a wife.  He married an appropriate woman and continued his relationship with Chanel.  This began a pattern of relationships with extremely wealthy men.

Chanel had begun designing hats while living with Balsan, initially as a diversion that evolved into a commercial enterprise. She became a licensed milliner in 1910 and opened a boutique at 21 rue Cambon, Paris, named Chanel Modes.[29] As this location already housed an established clothing business, Chanel sold only her millinery creations at this address. Chanel's millinery career bloomed once theatre actress Gabrielle Dorziat wore her hats in Fernand Nozière's play Bel Ami in 1912. Subsequently, Dorziat modelled Chanel's hats again in photographs published in Les Modes.

In Biarritz Chanel met an expatriate aristocrat, the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia. They had a romantic interlude, and maintained a close association for many years afterward. By 1919, Chanel was registered as a couturière and established her maison de couture at 31 rue Cambon, Paris.




In 1918, Chanel purchased the building at 31 rue Cambon, in one of the most fashionable districts of Paris. In 1921, she opened an early incarnation of a fashion boutique, featuring clothing, hats, and accessories, later expanded to offer jewellery and fragrances. By 1927, Chanel owned five properties on the rue Cambon, 

In the spring of 1920, Chanel was introduced to the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky by Sergei Diaghilev, impresario of the Ballets Russes. During the summer, Chanel discovered that the Stravinsky family sought a place to live, having left the Russian Soviet Republic after the war. She invited them to her new home, Bel Respiro, in the Paris suburb of Garches, until they could find a suitable residence.They arrived at Bel Respiro during the second week of September 1919  and remained until May 1921.She developed a romantic relationship with Igor Stravinsky during this time, but the affair was brie Chanel also guaranteed the new (1920) Ballets Russes production of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps ('The Rite of Spring') against financial loss with an anonymous gift to Diaghilev.  In addition to turning out her couture collections, Chanel threw herself into designing dance costumes for the Ballets Russes. In the years 1923–1937, she collaborated on productions choreographed by Diaghilev and dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, notably Le Train bleu, a dance-opera; Orphée and Oedipe Roi.

1922, at the Longchamps races, Théophile Bader, founder of the Paris Galeries Lafayette, introduced Chanel to businessman Pierre Wertheimer. Bader was interested in selling Chanel No. 5 in his department store In 1924, Chanel made an agreement with the Wertheimer brothers, Pierre and Paul, directors since 1917 of the eminent perfume and cosmetics house Bourjois. They created a corporate entity, Parfums Chanel, and the Wertheimers agreed to provide full financing for the production, marketing, and distribution of Chanel No. 5. The Wertheimers would receive seventy percent of the profits, and Théophile Bader twenty percent. For ten percent of the stock, Chanel licensed her name to Parfums Chanel and withdrew from involvement in business operations. Later, unhappy with the arrangement, Chanel worked for more than twenty years to gain full control of Parfums Chanel. She said that Pierre Wertheimer was "the bandit who screwed me".

After devopiing a relationship with the Duke of Westminster, the wealthiest man in England she began to favor right wing political views.

Garelick unravels the controversies surrounding Chanel's relationship during W.W. Two when she lived in the Ritz Hotel surrounded by high ranking Nazis while having a romance with a German major, a Baron.  

There is much more in this marvelous book.

Rhonda Garelick is dean of the School of Art and Design History and Theory, at Parsons School of Design/The New School in New York. She’s the author of three books, and writes on fashion and cultural politics for New York Magazine, The New York Times and many other publications. Garelick received her B.A. and Ph.D. in comparative literature and French from Yale.