Show Less
Restricted access

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.


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

Show Summary Details
Restricted access

· 8 ·


Of course he could have hidden the newspaper that day but that wasn’t Alain Béron’s style. As a man of great integrity, he was generally in favor of telling the truth, even at the risk of hurting someone, being of the opinion that the responsibility of humanity was to know the facts and then to decide on the right course of action. There was no question that the article would not please Bérénice. He even wondered how that copy of the Petit Parisien dated several days before had landed up there, in the kitchen. Maybe Gigi had brought it back when she went shopping, the newsprint serving as wrapping for her provisions, or maybe she pinched it from another employer to cut out a recipe. However it arrived, the performing arts page contained a story about Florence Hégué’s beautiful performance in The Cid at the Comédie-Française. That would be yet another blow to Bérénice, who just a few days before had to endure the humiliation of Jean-Louis Barrault recounting to the gossip columnists how he got started at the House of Molière and his experiences during the rehearsals of The Cid. Not a word about her, about her departure, he spoke about Marie Bell in the role of Chimène as if the role had always been hers from the start. They were erasing Bérénice’s name. That was even more painful than phone calls from her...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.