Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape, and a House in Marseille

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9780060732516: Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape, and a House in Marseille

France, 1940. The once glittering boulevards of Paris teem with spies, collaborators, and the Gestapo now that France has fallen to Hitler's Wermacht. For André Breton, Max Ernst, Marc Chagall, Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry, and scores of other cultural elite who have been denounced as enemies of the Third Reich the fear of imminent arrest, deportation, and death defines their daily life. Their only salvation is the Villa Air-Bel, a château outside Marseille where a group of young people will go to extraordinary lengths to keep them alive.

A powerfully told, meticulously researched true story filled with suspense, drama, and intrigue, Villa Air-Bel delves into a fascinating albeit hidden saga in our recent history. It is a remarkable account of how a diverse intelligentsia—intense, brilliant, and utterly terrified—was able to survive one of the darkest chapters of the twentieth century.

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About the Author:

Rosemary Sullivan has written poetry, short fiction, biography, literary criticism, reviews, and articles. Her recent books include the critically acclaimed Villa Air-Bel and Labyrinth of Desire. She is a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto and has been awarded Guggenheim, Camargo, and Trudeau Fellowships. She is a recipient of the Lorne Pierce Medal, awarded by the Royal Society of Canada for her contribution to literature and culture, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

From Publishers Weekly:

The outbreak of WWII took many Europeans by surprise. In France, by the time the fighting began, the papers people needed to get out of the country were difficult to come by. It was on this circumstance that three enterprising Americans concentrated their efforts in the first two years of the war. Ivy League scholar Varian Fry, sent by the American Emergency Rescue Committee, heiress Mary Jayne Gold and graduate student Miriam Davenport turned a Marseille château into a safe haven for dozens of prominent artists and intellectuals waiting for a chance to emigrate in secrecy, including Hannah Arendt, Marcel Duchamp, Marc Chagall, André Breton, Franz Werfel and perennial exile Victor Serge. Canadian writer Sullivan (her Shadow Maker: The Life of Gwendolyn MacEwen won a Governor General's Award) goes beyond the confines of Air-Bel to tell a fuller story of France during the tense years from 1933 to 1941. She intelligently spreads the fractured narrative, with its huge cast of players constantly coming and going, over 60 brief chapters. What's palpable is the welter of shock, fear, world-weariness, cynicism and misplaced idealism evinced by the villa's transient residents as they apprehensively awaited their fate. The author never gets quite close enough to her subjects, but this is a moving tale of great sacrifice in tumultuous times. B&w photos. (Oct. 3)
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Book Description HARPER PERENNIAL, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. France, 1940. The once glittering boulevards of Paris teem with spies, collaborators, and the Gestapo now that France has fallen to Hitler s Wermacht. For Andre Breton, Max Ernst, Marc Chagall, Consuelo de Saint-Exupery, and scores of other cultural elite who have been denounced as enemies of the Third Reich the fear of imminent arrest, deportation, and death defines their daily life. Their only salvation is the Villa Air-Bel, a chateau outside Marseille where a group of young people will go to extraordinary lengths to keep them alive. A powerfully told, meticulously researched true story filled with suspense, drama, and intrigue, Villa Air-Bel delves into a fascinating albeit hidden saga in our recent history. It is a remarkable account of how a diverse intelligentsia--intense, brilliant, and utterly terrified--was able to survive one of the darkest chapters of the twentieth century. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780060732516

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