Usually Ships in 1-5 days Published:
University Of Chicago Press, 4/2012
A year in Paris . . . since World War II, countless American students have been lured by that vision—and been transformed by their sojourn in the City of Light. DREAMING IN FRENCH tells three stories of that experience, and how it changed the lives of three extraordinary American women.
All three women would go on to become icons, key figures in American cultural, intellectual, and political life, but when they embarked for France, they were young, little-known, uncertain about their future, and drawn to the culture, sophistication, and drama that only Paris could offer. Yet their backgrounds and their dreams couldn’t have been more different. Jacqueline Bouvier was a twenty-year-old debutante, a Catholic girl from a wealthy East Coast family. Susan Sontag was twenty-four, a precocious Jewish intellectual from a North Hollywood family of modest means, and Paris was a refuge from motherhood, a failing marriage, and graduate work in philosophy at Oxford. Angela Davis, a French major at Brandeis from a prominent African American family in Birmingham, Alabama, found herself the only black student in her year abroad program—in a summer when all the news from Birmingham was of unprecedented racial violence.
Kaplan takes readers into the lives, hopes, and ambitions of these young women, tracing their paths to Paris and tracking the discoveries, intellectual adventures, friendships, and loves that they found there. For all three women, France was far from a passing fancy; rather, Kaplan shows, the year abroad continued to influence them, a significant part of their intellectual and cultural makeup, for the rest of their lives. "Superbly perceptive. . . . Kaplan is a master at . . . selecting just the right aspect of everyday experience to illuminate an important point she wants to make. . . . Some books are well-written on a sentence-by-sentence basis; you leaf back through the pages to find you've underscored choice lines. Dreaming in French is the sort of book where you (well, I) draw vertical lines next to entire paragraphs. Kaplan produces some exquisite lines, yes, but she is positively incandescent on the level of thoughts and observations."
(Laura Miller Salon )