A witness to the bleak fate of French Jewry in Nazi-dominated France, this remarkable author recounts her experiences from 1939 to 1945 in a personal though emotionally reserved way that makes her family's tragedies particularly poignant. Her parents were upper-class, assimilated Jews; her father, Andr Chevrillon, was a member of the French Academy, a man Edith Wharton called ``the first literary critic in France.'' An English teacher in Paris when war broke out, Claire gives abundant details about the first days of the occupation, when France became a nation divided between the Ptainists and those less willing to accommodate Hitler's designs. In 1942, as repressive laws limited Jewish freedom (Claire's mother was effectively imprisoned by her fear of leaving home wearing the yellow star), as her brother-in-law languished in a POW camp and her cousins were persecuted and eventually deported, Chevrillon joined the resistance, first in air operations and then in the code service, where she encoded and decoded messages between the free French government in London and de Gaulle's Paris delegation. Chevrillon, who had contact with some of the most prominent members of the resistance, was betrayed in 1943 and spent four harrowing months in prison. The author's goal was ``to set forward the facts... not to analyze myself or my characters.'' But her story, told without elaboration, is as dramatic and compelling as any fiction. Illustrations. (May)
While several classic memoirs of the Resistance exist, relatively few have been written by women. Chevrillon, the scion of a prominent literary family, was head of the Code Service for Paris and the main link in the lines of communication between the Resistance and the Free French government in London. It was Chevrillon and her team who coded many of the telegrams published in Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre's Is Paris Burning? Highly readable and moving, her memoirs recount in vivid detail the hardships of living under occupation, the deportation of her Jewish relatives, and the difficulties of life in prison, where she spent four months. Chevrillon's empathy for her compatriots and her sensitive appreciation of the simple pleasures of life in the midst of war make this an inspirational and enlightening story. This book should appeal not only to scholars of French and women's history but also to general readers interested in accounts of the war years.Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., N.J.
Chevrillon, code-named Christine Clouet, retells French history unlike any textbook does. Her memoir is a compilation of salvaged family letters, journal entries, and historical facts, all rendered through her eyes and told in her delicate voice. Clouet shares intense descriptions of families fleeing German-occupied areas of France during World War II and the deportation of her Jewish relatives. Some history buffs might be disappointed that no new secrets are unearthed; the allure of the book is the verve with which Clouet relates details of day-to-day life for upper-crust French people living through troubled times. Clouet is a captivating storyteller, a hero, and a powerful voice for women--whether they are revolutionaries or grandmothers. Her wonderful autobiography is both emotional and historically significant.
Chevrillon was the head of the Code Service in Paris for General de Gaulle's Delegation and served as the main communication link between the Free French Government in London and the Provisional Government in France. Her memoir gives a picture of daily life for the French elite under German occupation, and recounts the arrest and deportation of her Jewish relatives, her role in the underground network, her captivity in Paris' Fresnes prison, and the liberation of France. Includes b&w photos. Paper edition (unseen), $14.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)