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Dreaming in French by Alice Kaplan

In this engaging and original work of biography and cultural history, Alice Kaplan shows how a year in Paris transformed the lives of three American women: "a Catholic debutante, a Jewish intellectual, an African American revolutionary."

Paris was still haunted by the war when Jacqueline Bouvier lived there in 1949-50. Despite rationing, basic toilet facilities and just one bath a week, she remembered it as "the happiest year of my life."

In 1957-58, Susan Sontag experienced a very different city. For her Paris was an escape from married life, a chance to explore her inner self and discover "a zone of intense sexual freedom." Hers was a city of cafés, expatriate beats and cinemas where she learned "how to walk, to smoke, to kiss, to fight, to grieve."

Paris was liberating, too, for Angela Davis (there 1963-64) who came from segregated Alabama. She "found a way to be free by speaking French." Back in America she became an icon of freedom for French intellectuals, 60,000 of whom marched through Paris to demand her release from prison in 1971.

-- From P.D. Smith's review in The Guardian

Anyone who has read the month’s selection is welcome, as are new participants; no long-term commitment required. Contact Peter Greenfield ’67 with questions or suggestions.

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