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Bérénice 1934-44

An Actress in Occupied Paris

Isabelle Stibbe

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.

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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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