No Place to Lay One's Head: With a Preface from Patrick Modiano
One woman's struggle to escape the Nazi terror in Vichy France. Publication of Rien o poser sa tUte met with great interest in France, becoming known as the 'Fuite Franpaise', the flight from France, in a nod to Irone NUmirovsky's Suite Franpaise. From the oppressive scenes of 1930s Berlin where Franpoise Frenkel established her French language bookshop, to her escape back to Paris and on through the south of France, this is the story of her dignified yet increasingly desperate attempts to flee from France as the Nazi noose tightens. It is her story - but it is also the story of every refugee fleeing persecution, clinging to every shred of dignity as they are left with no choice but to rely on the kindness of strangers. Franpoise Frenkel was a Jewish woman born in Poland, educated in Paris and enamoured of all things literary and French. In 1921 she sets up the first French language bookshop in Berlin, recognising the craving for French culture in that city in the wake of WWI. Her business is a success - she hobnobs with diplomats and celebrities, authors and artists. But life in Berlin for a Jewish business owner becomes untenable despite her desire to stand sentinel by her bookshop to the end. Frenkel is forced to flee to Paris. Her husband fled earlier and was rounded up in Paris and sent first to Drancy and then to Auschwitz where he was murdered in August 1942. Like so many others, Frenkel is compelled to keep moving, spending time in Avignon, Vichy, Nice and Grenoble, as she attempted to survive in a world disintegrating around her. Her observations of and interactions with the French, both those who denounce her and those who themselves brave denunciation in offering her refuge, provide us with an insight into how humanity strives to assert itself in the dark interstices of a society imploding. Frenkel's attempts to flee across the Alps into Switzerland were ultimately successful and she published her story in 1945 in Geneva. But only recently was a copy of this forgotten work discovered in Nice, and a decision made at the French publisher Gallimard to republish it, seventy years later, in October 2015. Nobel Prize-winning author Patrick Modiano has written a moving preface, in which he writes- 'The uniqueness of No Place to Lay One's Head lies in the fact that we are unable precisely to identify its author. This account of the life of a woman who is hunted down in the south of France and the Haute Savoie during the Occupation is all the more striking for its apparent anonymity ...' Very little is known of Franpoise Frenkel's subsequent life, except that she returned to live in Nice where she had spent much of her time during the war before her escape, and where she died in 1975. Frenkel's book is the story of refugees, those fleeing terror, the world over.
Franpoise Frenkel was born in Poland in 1889. In 1921 she set up a French-language bookshop in Berlin. The store was fundamental to the cultural life of the city well into the 1930s when Frenkel was forced to flee after her bookshop was raided by the Nazis. A life in hiding in Vichy France was no better and she made a final desperate and successful attempt to reach neutral Switzerland, where this memoir was eventually published in 1945. It was rediscovered in an attic in 2010 and published again by Gallimard in France in October 2015. This is the first English-language edition. Stephanie Smee is a translator into English of all things literary and French. Her other languages include German, Italian and Swedish. Having worked as a lawyer in Sydney and London, Stephanie happily traded in a legal career for a return to her linguistic calling. After several years as a legal translator, she left the world of pleadings and contractual documents behind and made her literary translation dUbut with a new English translation of nineteenth-century French children's author the Countess de SUgur's Fleurville trilogy, published by Simon & Schuster (Australia) in 2010. The trilogy includes the perennially popular Sophie's Misfortunes, Camille and Madeleine- A Tale of Two Perfect Little Girls and The Holidays. Stephanie's subsequent translations of the Countess's works - also published by Simon & Schuster (Australia) - include the wonderfully cheeky Monsieur Cadichon- Memoirs of a Donkey(2011) and A Room at Guardian Angel Inn(2012), and its sequel, General Dourakine(2013). Her translation of Jules Verne's wonderful historical adventure novel, Michel Strogoff- Moscou-Irkoutsk was published by Eagle Books in Apr