Portraits of France

Robert Daley, Author
Robert Daley, Author Little Brown and Company $24.95 (488p) ISBN 978-0-316-17185-4
Reviewed on: 07/01/1991
Release date: 07/01/1991
Paperback - 528 pages - 978-0-316-17181-6
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Freely mixing travelogue, history and offhand cultural commentary, Daley's serendipitous journey appraises France's soul. Whether he is expressing consternation at Avignon's immense Palace of the Popes, monument to medieval extravagance, or tracking the legend of bike racer Jacques Anquetil, Daley ( An American Saga ) has a knack for the telling detail, the unusual observation. A few of these 19 vignettes delve into little-known events, like the building of French concentration camps in the Pyrenees during WW II. Among the indelible portraits we find those of French soldier- politican-aristocrat Lafayette, Grace Kelly, Scottish novelist Tobias Smollett (inventor of the ``fabulous Riviera'' mystique) and De Gaulle, an obscure brigadier general in 1940 worried mainly about his wife and retarded daughter. Other pieces deal with Lourdes, Bordeaux, a perfume factory in Grasse, Jules Massenet writing operas in Paris and the Sansons family, which operated the guillotine through six generations. (July)
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