On an August evening in 1933, in a quiet, working-class neighborhood in Paris, eighteen-year-old Violette Nozière gave her mother and father glasses of barbiturate-laced “medication,” which she told them had been prescribed by the family doctor; one of her parents died, the other barely survived. Almost immediately Violette’s act of “double parricide” became the most sensational private crime of the French interwar eradiscussed and debated so passionately that it was compared to the Dreyfus Affair. Why would the beloved only child of respectable parents do such a thing? To understand the motives behind this crime and the reasons for its extraordinary impact, Sarah Maza delves into the abundant case records, re-creating the daily existence of Parisians whose lives were touched by the affair. This compulsively readable book brilliantly evokes the texture of life in 1930s Paris. It also makes an important argument about French society and culture while proposing new understandings of crime and social class in the years before World War II.
|Publisher:||University of California Press|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Sarah Maza is Jane Long Professor of Arts and Sciences and Professor of History at Northwestern University. She is the author of many books including award winners Private Lives and Public Affairs: The Causes Célèbres of Prerevolutionary France (UC Press) and The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie: An Essay on the Social Imaginary, 1750-1850.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations Acknowledgments
Introduction 1. A Neighborhood in Paris 2.
Interwar Girlhoods 3. Violette’s Family Romance 4. A Crime in Late Summer 5. The Accusation 6. Letters to the Judge 7. A Culture of Crime 8. A Water Lily on a Heap of Coal 9. The Trial 10. Afterlives Conclusion Notes
What People are Saying About This
"Maza explains brilliantly how and why Violette's storyor a culturally acceptable version of her storygrew from being a mere fait divers, or miscellaneous news item, into a nationally staged drama that bound France in schadenfreude-laced fascination near the end of the turbulent and divisive Third Republic. Combining a neatly suspenseful account of Violette's crime and its consequences with a richly layered cultural history . . . she skillfully analyzes Violette's transformation from wretched schoolgirl to cultural icon."New York Times Book Review
"An academic history with a pulpy noir heart."Publishers Weekly
"The story itself is so fascinating that general readers interested in crime and mystery will be enthralled."Library Journal
"A true-life detective tale set not amid the glamour and romance of a well-touristed Paris but in a secret city that runs thick with the lives of the forgotten and the abandoned."T: the New York Times Style Magazine
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Violette Noziere was a young woman who poisoned her parents. Her father died; her mother died. After she was apprehended (and perhaps before, though this is in dispute) she accused her father of incest. The story is fascinating in itself, but to Maza it is emblematic of interwar changes in Paris in social stratification, mores, art, fashion and politics and the rise of interest in noir, detective stories and fait divers. Excellent read as true crime and social history of 1930's Paris.