Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France (Paperback)
  • Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France (Paperback)
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Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France (Paperback)

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£12.99
Paperback 464 Pages
Published: 03/07/2014
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The astonishing true story of a young woman's adventures, and misadventures, in the dangerous world of Nazi-occupied France.

For Priscilla, pre-war Paris was an exciting carousel of suitors, soirées and heartbreak, and eventually a lavish wedding to a French aristocrat.

But the arrival of the Nazi tanks signalled the end of life as a Vicomtesse, and the beginning of a precarious existence under German Occupation.

Over half a century later, her nephew, Nicholas Shakespeare, found a box of Priscilla's notebooks and journals. He began investigating the rumours that she had escaped a prisoner-of-war camp and fought for the Resistance - and he finally unearthed the truth behind suspicions of disreputable love affairs and far darker secrets.

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9780099555667
Number of pages: 464
Weight: 397 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 33 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

A pin-sharp biography which unfurls like gripping fiction… wonderful, haunting, thought-provoking - Melanie Reid, The Times

I have not read a better portrait of the moral impossibility of that time and place for people, like Priscilla, who found themselves trapped in it... A wonderful book - Daily Telegraph

As Shakespeare acknowledges, his aunt’s is one of millions of wartime stories. But thanks to the extensive paperwork, and his energetic digging, he creates a detailed and vivid narrative. This is a moving, and constantly surprising story - Matthew Bell, Independent on Sunday

So gripping it reads like a novel - Rachel Johnson, Evening Standard

This mysterious story of the Occupation in France has all the qualities of a fascinating novel, with exquisite social, sexual and moral nuance - Antony Beevor

Shakespeare offers a nuanced and detailed psychological study of the effect of the Second World war on an ordinary woman. The result is just as absorbing as any biography of a war hero - Sunday Times

Nicholas Shakespeare has employed all his superb gifts as a writer to tell the picaresque tale of his aunt in wartime occupied France. Priscilla is a femme fatale worthy of fiction, and the author traces her tangled, troubled, romantic and often tragically unromantic experiences through one of the most dreadful periods of 20th-century history - Max Hastings

Priscilla brilliantly exposes the tangled complexities behind that question so easily asked from the comfort of a peacetime armchair: “What would I have done?" - Observer

Priscilla's descent into hell runs eerily parallel to that of France itself; Faustian, fascinating and in the end extremely sad - Sebastian Faulks, Observer, Books of the Year

An account of the author’s aunt’s life in France under the Nazis. Her descent parallels that of France: Grim but fascinating - Sebastian Faulks, Observer

A gripping excavation of a woman’s secret past, Priscilla is also a fascinating portrait of France during the Second World War, and of the many shadowy and corrupt deals made by the French with their Nazi occupiers - Caroline Moorehead

In Priscilla, Nicholas Shakespeare captures the soul of a young Englishwoman who, to survive in Nazi-occupied France, is forced to make choices which few in England ever had to face. She remained her own unflinching judge and jury to the end - Charlotte Rampling

Wonderfully readable… Shakespeare, a novelist and biographer of some note, is too good a writer to succumb to sensationalism. Instead, and after some impressive research, he builds a nuanced, sensitive portrait of this sad and glamorous member of his family…. As the life of Priscilla shows, surviving the occupation was too complicated an affair for any black-and-white verdict - Economist

Like the author's biography of Bruce Chatwin, this is, beneath the obvious drama, a subtle, masterfully written work - Thomas Keneally, The Australian, Books of the Year

This absorbing book has many of the excitements of a thriller - Spectator

Priscilla's is a remarkable story, teased out with great skill by her nephew, himself one of the best English novelists of our time - Allan Massie, Wall Street Journal

Nicholas Shakespeare has employed all his superb gifts as a writer to tell the picaresque tale of his aunt in wartime occupied France. Priscilla is a femme fatale worthy of fiction, and the author traces her tangled, troubled, romantic and often tragically unromantic experiences through one of the most dreadful periods of 20th century history - Max Hastings

A thrilling story… an intimate family memoir, a story of survival and a quest for biographical truth - Sebastian Shakespeare, Tatler

[An] extraordinary true story of the author's aunt. A life of dark secrets, glamour, adventure and adversity during wartime. - Fanny Blake, Woman & Home

A tantalisingly original perspective of the Second World War…Shakespeare shines a moving, intriguing light on the moral quandaries faced by ordinary civilians - Robert Collins, Sunday Times

Priscilla is an unusual book, part biography, part family memoir, part detective story, but it reads like a novel and I found it impossible to put down. As an evocation of the period and the moral hypocrisy of the times, it could hardly be bettered (4 stars, Book of the Week) - Juliet Barker, Mail on Sunday

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