Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France

Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France

by Nicholas Shakespeare


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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 by Nicholas Shakespeare is a transcendent work of narrative nonfiction in the vein of The Hare with Amber Eyes.

When Nicholas Shakespeare stumbled across a trunk full of his late aunt’s personal belongings, he was unaware of where this discovery would take him and what he would learn about her hidden past. The glamorous, mysterious figure he remembered from his childhood was very different from the morally ambiguous young woman who emerged from the trove of love letters, journals and photographs, surrounded by suitors and living the precarious existence of a British citizen in a country controlled by the enemy during World War II.

As a young boy, Shakespeare had always believed that his aunt was a member of the Resistance and had been tortured by the Germans. The truth turned out to be far more complicated. 

Piecing together fragments of his aunt’s remarkable and tragic story, Priscilla is at once a stunning story of detection, a loving portrait of a flawed woman trying to survive in terrible times, and a spellbinding slice of history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062297044
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/06/2015
Series: P.S. Series
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 508,575
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Nicholas Shakespeare's books have been translated into twenty languages. They include The Vision of Elena Silves, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, and The Dancer Upstairs, which was made into a film of the same name by John Malkovich. His nonfiction includes the critically acclaimed authorized biography of Bruce Chatwin. Shakespeare is married with two sons and lives in Oxford.

Table of Contents

Part 1

1 The Interrogation: 1943 3

2 Church Farm: 1957-66 5

3 The Alligator Handbag: 1950 12

4 Truck Driver 18

5 The Padded Chest 21

Part 2

6 Strange Existence 33

7 Gillian 46

8 SPB 58

9 Married Alive: 1936 66

10 Meeting Robert: 1937 71

11 The Abortionist 77

12 Boisgrimot 93

13 Letter from an Unknown Man 107

14 Vertès 116

15 War of Nerves 131

16 French Resistance 162

Part 3

17 Besançon 177

Part 4

18 London: October 1944 209

19 Brazen Lies 213

20 Paris: February 1941 218

21 Daniel Vernier 225

22 Emile Cornet 231

23 L'Affaire Stocklin 247

24 Resortissante Britannique 262

25 'Simone Vernier' 267

26 Kessel 278

27 'Otto' 284

28 The Missing Box 295

29 Graebener 305

30 Pierre 314

31 Chanson d'Automne 320

32 Tondue 334

Part 5

33 Living with Anybody 347

34 Life as a Mushroom Farmer's Wife 364

35 Too Much Gin 377

36 A Sympathetic Priest 388

37 Detonations from the Past 394

38 The End 402

39 An Unsent Letter 405

Acknowledgements 409

Sources 413

Picture Credits 425

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Priscilla : The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Priscilla was not a famous woman, but her life as described by her nephew in this book is absolutely fascinating. Nicholas is discovering his aunt’s secret life for the first time through her love letters and brings us along for a fascinating ride.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting. Well worth the time. Glad I tried this book.
smg5775 More than 1 year ago
Interesting read as the author tries to recreate his aunt's life beginning before WWII through the end of her life. While there were people to talk with and diaries left that explain the time before the war and the time after the war, there were few sources available to reconstruct accurately her life in Paris during the war. As Mr. Shakespeare would be researching one thing he often stumbled into pieces of his aunt's life during his research. Most of the people who had been with his aunt were either dead, or like her, unwilling to talk about their experiences. I learned a lot. It is worth reading as it is the experience of an ordinary person, not a celebrity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Turns to invention; as he is more interested in sexual fantasy he has had for his aunt than history. Every section should be questioned.
NickHeart More than 1 year ago
Priscilla is an amazing book. It proves a book doesn’t have to be about someone famous to be interesting. This is such a well written book. It kept me on the edge of my seat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago