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Priscilla The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France by Nicholas Shakespeare
  

Priscilla The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France

Biography / Autobiography   eBook Favourites   

Sue Baker's view...

A mystery to Nicholas Shakespeare as a child, his aunt Priscilla seemed a distant and troubled figure, one who drank too much and was ruled by an obsessive husband. After her death and the discovery of a box of her papers, he gradually begins to piece her story together. Priscilla’s life reads like a novel and not one that ends happily, as an Englishwoman in wartime France her experiences were unique but after the war there was no-one to listen to her, her attempts at autobiography failed and so her past remained unknown, the two things she wanted most in her life, children and a published book to be denied her.

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Synopsis

Priscilla The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France by Nicholas Shakespeare

.This is the astonishing true story of a young woman's adventures, and misadventures, in the dangerous world of Nazi-occupied France. A most strange and compelling book driven by the writer's unsparing search for truth: now an optimistic hunt for a family heroine, now a study in female wiles of survival, now a portrait of one very ordinary person's frailty in the face of terrible odds. (John le Carre). When Nicholas Shakespeare stumbled across a box of documents belonging to his late aunt he was completely unaware of where this discovery would take him. The Priscilla he remembered was very different from the glamorous, morally ambiguous young woman who emerged from the many love letters and journals, surrounded by suitors and living the dangerous existence of a British woman in a country controlled by the enemy. He had heard rumours that Priscilla had fought in the Resistance, but the truth turned out to be far more complicated. As he investigated his aunt's life, dark secrets emerged. Nicholas discovered the answer to the questions he'd been puzzling over: What caused the breakdown of Priscilla's marriage to a French aristocrat? Why had she been interned in a prisoner-of-war camp and how had she escaped? And who was the 'Otto' she was having a relationship with as Paris was liberated? Priscilla's story shows us the precariousness of life in occupied France, when loyalties were compromised and life could change in an instant. It gives us an intimate insight into women's lives in times of conflict and asks us to consider what we might do to survive in similar circumstances.


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Reviews

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

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

About the Author

Nicholas Shakespeare
Nicholas Shakespeare is the author of The Vision of Elena Silves (1989), winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, The High Flyer, for which he was nominated for the Grants list in 1993 and The Dancer Upstairs which was chosen by the American Libraries Association as the best novel of 1997. In 1999 his biography, Bruce Chatwin was published to great critical acclaim.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st July 2014

Author

Nicholas Shakespeare

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Author's Website

nicholasshakespeare.com/

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Publisher

Vintage an imprint of Vintage Publishing

Format

Paperback
464 pages

Categories

Biography / Autobiography
eBook Favourites

Biography: historical, political & military
Family history, tracing ancestors

Second World War

ISBN

9780099555667

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