Cork World Book Fest 2017 – France And Its Women Book Tickets
FRANCE AND ITS WOMEN – past and present.
Reading and discussion with Anne Sebba, author of Les Parisiennes.
In conversation with Dr. Mary Noonan, French Department, UCC.
As the French election draws close (April 23rd), Anne Sebba, biographer, lecturer and journalist, discusses women in France in conversation with Dr. Mary Noonan, French Department UCC.
Anne Sebba is the author of nine non-fiction books for adults, two biographies for children and several introductions to reprinted classics. Her new book, Les Parisiennes, is the first in-depth account of the everyday lives of women and young girls in Paris and the aftershock of the Second World War. There are stories in it about resisters, collaborators, spies, writers and actresses, couturiers and jewellery designers, housewives, concierges and prostitutes.
Sebba states that she wants “to avoid black and white, good and evil, but instead to reveal constant moral ambiguity”.
Post-war, like the British women after WW1, France rewarded its daughters with the vote. But the role of women was not a topic ever considered until now, with this book. Those women returning faced contrasting reactions. Those from the camps were victims while those that had resisted were heroines decorated by a grateful state. Those that remained at home were not recognised while France celebrated its “two and a half million sons” returning.
This is not a feminist book. Its importance is in raising our awareness while promoting an understanding faced by the role of women in difficult and challenging times. Interestingly, fashion remained important to the chic Parisiennes who adapted to the clothing restrictions by turning out with tricolore buttons or adapting clothing to ride bicycles.
The reverberations from this period are still being felt in France today.