Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France (Paperback)Nicholas Shakespeare (author)
- In stock
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, soirees 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
Number of pages: 464
Weight: 397 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 34 mm
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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