on 16 May 2001
Elliot Paul lived and worked off and on in Paris during the twenties and thirties and gives us a street level account of the characters who peopled the little narrow lanes of one of the most ancient neighborhoods of Paris. The center is the Rue de la Huchette and its environs, the narrow streets opposite Notre Dame on the left Bank of the Seine. The characters that flit in and out of the vignettes that make up this book are the salt of the earth: hoteliers waiters, prostitutes, pimps,cleaning drudges,store-keepers,taxidermists, government clerks, actresses, housekeepers, retired army officers and practicers of other sundry occupations. They are a motley crew of native Parisians, provincials from all over France,ex- patriates and immigrants, Greeks, Jews, Serbs, Turks and stateless stranded persons. They belong to the lower and middle classes and they number among them people with all the major vices and saving graces that one may imagine. They all are full of ideas, on Americans, on politics and life in general. Elliot Paul zeros in on individuals in this rich and colorful panoply of characters, the sinners and saints, the witty and the dull, the liberal and the bigoted that peopled this corner of Paris. Starting with the early twenties, he documents the inexorable progress of time with the changing political tenor of the 3rd Republic that marks the decades until the fall of Paris to the Nazi armies in 1941. Written at the height of the war, as a kind of memorial to a lost world, the book captures some of the authentic flavor of the times. For anyone with an interest in this period and who has ever appreciated the charm of the city of Light, this is a remarkable memoire that you won't be able to put down.
on 1 May 2001
Paul's wonderfully human and humane portrait of a village of Paris, around Hautefeuille in the 6th arrondissement is an unselfconsciously artful piece of work. Anyone who has ever fallen in love with Paris and is interested in its history and its people should have a copy of this book. You will get to know scounddrels, saints, prostitutes, bakers, gendarmes, and shopkeepers in the greatest collection of villages in the world, that place called Paris.
on 21 February 2011
I could not understand why the French government did not come to the aid of the democratically elected Spanish government when the country was attacked by Franco and his followers. According to the the author of this book, it was because the British government threatened to undermine the franc if the French interfered in the Spanish Civil War. The pound was very strong at the time. I also believe that had Franco been defeated. Hitler would not have attacked Poland etc.