Synopses & Reviews
Bonnie Smith weaves biography and oral history into this vivid life of Madame Lucie, concierge of a Paris apartment building] and witness of nearly a century of French history. Both Smith and Madame Lucie are brilliant, flexible storytellers who present life as a continual flux between the poles of tradition and scandal, politics and private life, truth and memory. The garrulous and sometimes manipulative Madame Lucie seems more real than most subjects of biography and history; she steps out of these pages as full-bodied as a character in a novel. ---Ms.
Bonnie Smith here tells Madame Lucie's colorful life history, first by skillfully recording the concierge's reminiscences and then by describing her own observations as a participant in Madame Lucie's world. The overall effect is an unusual, richly textured image of modern France as it was experienced by a figure of the working class. Madame Lucie's life and her memories moving, engrossing, entertaining are a valuable source of insight into French culture and society. As she herself says early in the book, "What I'm telling is the history of France.""