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Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis Hardcover – April 2, 2012
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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*Starred Review* Kaplan (The Interpreter, 2005) recounted her revelatory passion for all things French in French Lessons (1994). She now offers uniquely discerning portraits of three very different yet equally trailblazing American women whose “lives were transformed by a year in France, and who, in turn, transformed the United States.” An elegant, socially well-connected book lover and “keen observer of beauty,” Jackie Bouvier Kennedy was a Vassar student when she went to France in 1949 and found her true home. As Kaplan follows Kennedy to the White House and beyond, she praises her “quiet power and uncanny intelligence” while tracking her lifelong fascination with French art and culture. Leaving her husband and young son behind, Susan Sontag landed in France in 1958 and immersed herself in bohemian Paris and the French literary works that became the foundation for her influential, often controversial writing. Angela Davis’ ardor for French propelled her out of segregated Birmingham, Alabama, to school in New York, then to Paris in 1963–64 as the only African American student in her year-abroad program. A woman of “intellectual intensity” and valor, she became a besieged activist and cause célèbre. Kaplan’s avidly researched, fresh, and astute biographical triptych reveals as much about the evolution of women’s lives as it does about how profoundly these three exceptional Francophiles deepened the American experience. --Donna Seaman
"An enduring group profile of three influential yet completely different American women, for each of whom Paris played a short but transformative role, over three tumultuous decades. . . . The much-admired Kaplan focuses sharply on three women of successive generations, providing a keen feminist-cultural picture of Paris’s enduring, if varied, impact."
(Publishers Weekly, starred review)
"A fascinating group portrait of three different women from three different generations whose trajectories nevertheless converge in one surprising yet significant place: Paris. In this lively, original biographie à trois, Alice Kaplan shows how time spent living in the French capital and learning about its culture gave each of these sui generis heroines 'her own ideas of what counted'—and how those ideas in turn became an indelible part of the American political and cultural landscape."
(Caroline Weber, author of Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution)
"An eloquent, brilliant, and often moving portrayal of three remarkable women whose personal and intellectual engagement with France transformed them, and by extension America as well. These intimate narratives of Jaqueline Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis feel not only vital, but also necessary to our understanding of their moral, aesthetic and political development, and just as importantly, to our understanding of each as a remarkable, flawed, and complicated human being."
(Dinaw Mengestu, author of How to Read the Air)
null (Patricia Hampl author of I Could Tell You Stories)
"Dreaming in French is, in essence a collection of three short, stand-alone biographies. But Kaplan is a talented historian, journalist, and storyteller, and so she's crafted a book greater than the sum of its parts. . . . An informative, well-written work of biographical nonfiction." (Boston Globe)
null (Washington Post)
(L'Amour des Livres)