Children of Pithiviers: A Novel

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9781590512067: Children of Pithiviers: A Novel

"Intricate and endlessly surprising....A beautiful and important book."—Margot Livesey, author of Banishing Verona and Eva Moves the Furniture

In the summer of 1942, more than two thousand Jewish children were interned in a concentration camp in Pithiviers, in the Loiret region of France. From this shameful chapter of history, Sheila Kohler weaves an extraordinary and compelling novel first published in 2001 and now appearing in paperback for the first time.

In Children of Pithiviers, a pair of young sisters escape deportation and find shelter with a local aristocratic couple known to all as Madame and Monsieur. Seventeen years later, a beautiful young Sorbonne student arrives to spend the summer as a "paying guest" of Madame and Monsieur, whose fortunes have diminished considerably since the war. Eighteen-year-old Deirdre discovers a diary kept by the two Jewish girls. In doing so, she not only learns their fate, but reawakens old suspicions, and old appetites on the estate.

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About the Author:

Sheila Kohler is the author of five novels, including Cracks, Crossways, The Perfect Place, and Children of Pithiviers (all available in paperback from Other Press). Kohler has also published three collections of short stories. A native of South Africa, she makes her home in New York City and teaches at Bennington College in Vermont.

From Library Journal:

In the early 1940s in the Loiret region of France, townspeople shamefully collaborated with the Nazis to rip Jewish children away from their mothers, put them into concentration camps, and eventually send them to their deaths in Auschwitz's ovens. In this haunting novel, Kohler vastly increases the emotional impact by intertwining her account of these children with the story of narrator Deidre's corruption. When Sorbonne student Deidre spends the summer of 1959 with Madame and Monsieur in their estate in Pithiviers, she discovers a diary in the attic kept by two small girls who describe being cruelly separated from Maman and their day-to-day existence in the bleak yet safe attic. In the meantime, Deidre falls under the spell of first Madame, who treats her as a confidant, and then Monsieur, who eventually takes her as a lover. But the decadent, aristocratic couple (and their servants) are both much more and much less than they appear to be. Over time, Deidre learns their shameful secrets, their shallowness and greed, and their penchant for collaborating with one another and the authorities. The diary entries she keeps rereading and the pointed questions she asks fill in missing pieces of the puzzle and eventually reveal to her what kind of people she is living with and how they behaved nearly two decades ago. Readers will shudder at the miasma of decadence and corruption that hang over the characters in this well-crafted story. Very highly recommended. Lisa Nussbaum, Dauphin Cty. Lib. Sys., Harrisburg, PA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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