An Actress in Occupied Paris
The winner of nine literary awards in France, including the Prix Simone Veil, celebrating a woman of action, Bérénice 1934–44: An Actress in Occupied Paris is Isabelle Stibbe’s poignant debut novel. Now translated into English by Zack Rogow and Renée Morel, Bérénice 1934–44 reveals a young woman’s struggle to fulfill her career aspirations while concealing herself in war-torn France.
Bérénice yearns to become an actress, but her parents insist that career is not proper for a girl. She defies her Jewish family to become the leading younger actress in the Comédie-Française, France’s most renowned theater, right when the Nazis occupy France. Bérénice hides her true identity and last name to avoid detection. Living in a world without tolerance and torn between two lovers, Bérénice must choose between her passion for the stage, and her allegiance to freedom and to her Jewish heritage.
Critical Praise for the Original French Edition:
"This is an amazing first novel.”—Le Nouvel Observateur
“Isabelle Stibbe blends real history and fictitious characters in this well-researched first novel, with an impeccable classic style.”—Le Monde
“Her novel doesn’t just document a slice of French cultural life under the Occupation—it also communicates the passion and fervor of its author.”—Livres Hebdo
“Bérénice 1934-44 is Isabelle Stibbe’s first novel, but it feels to the reader like the work of a seasoned writer, particularly in her masterful blending of fiction and historical fact.”—Le Figaro
About the Author
Isabelle Stibbe is an important new voice in French fiction. After beginning her career in international law, she became the director of publications at the Comédie-Française, and later at the Grand Palais. She served as the secretary general of the Athénée Théâtre Louis-Jouvet from 2011 to 2016. Stibbe taught at the Institute of Theater Studies at the University of Paris-III, and currently is the theater critic for the magazine La Terrasse.
Bérénice 1934–44: An Actress in Occupied Paris is her first novel, published to critical acclaim in 2013. The novel received nine literary awards in France, including the Prix Simone Veil, honoring a book that celebrates a woman of action. Stibbe has subsequently published two other works of full-length fiction: Les Maîtres du printemps (Serge Safran Éditeur, 2015) and Le Roman ivre (Robert Laffont, 2018).
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