LES PARISIENNES

ANNE SEBBA (HA­CHETTE, $39.99)

North & South - - Review -

How did the women of Paris be­have dur­ing the years of Ger­man oc­cu­pa­tion? In Anne Sebba’s com­pelling book, the reader is deftly trans­ported to a city in chaos, and choices that had to be made in or­der to sur­vive. The Parisiennes had two op­tions: view the in­vaders as the en­emy (there­fore risk­ing their lives) or wel­come them in as “New Spe­cial Friends”. Re­sist or col­lab­o­rate – what would you do? For Coco Chanel, it was a breeze. She moved into the Ritz, frater­nising openly with a Ger­man of­fi­cer. And ac­tress Si­mone Sig­noret ap­peared smit­ten when she first saw the sol­diers: “They were fan­tas­tic – tall, tanned, Wag­ne­r­ian.” Righto. Those who re­sisted died for their trou­ble. A shock­ing por­trait of hu­man na­ture up close, with won­der­ful pho­to­graphs cap­tur­ing the City of Light in its dark­est days. JU­DITH BARAGWANATH

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