Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis
"A year in Paris"...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, yet their backgrounds and their dreams couldn't have been more different. Jacqueline Bouvier was a twenty-year-old debutante from a wealthy East Coast family. Susan Sontag was twenty-four, a precocious Jewish intellectual from a family of modest means. 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 the news from Birmingham was of unprecedented racial violence. Kaplan takes readers into the lives of these young women, tracing their paths to Paris and tracking the intellectual adventures, friendships, and loves that they found there. For all three women, France was far from a passing fancy; rather, the year abroad continued to influence them for the rest of their lives. Jackie Kennedy carried her love of France to the White House and to her later career as a book editor. Sontag discovered the intellectual world she observed from afar during that first year in Paris that would remain a key influence for the rest of her life. Davis, meanwhile, found that her Parisian vantage strengthened her sense of solidarity with the burgeoning Algerian independence movement, which would inform her own revolutionary agenda. Kaplan spins these three different stories into one evocative biography and explores how a single year - and a magical city - can change a whole life.
"Alice Kaplan's superbly perceptive Dreaming in French makes a prism out of those visits; the white light of expectation goes in, and a myriad of astonishing colors comes out." (Laura Miller, Salon) "Alice Kaplan achieves the improbable in her new book Dreaming in French, which weaves together a fascinating triple-portrait of three different and unrelated characters." (San Francisco Chronicle)"
Alice Kaplan is the author of French Lessons: A Memoir; The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach, which was a finalist for the National Book Award; and The Interpreter.