PARIS ORIGINAL by Alexandra Orme


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This has the odd fascination of the earlier non-fiction titles,- Comes the Comrade (Morrow, 1950- and a B O M selection) and By the Waters of the Danube (Duell, Sloan & Pearce- 1951), both of which follow the writer's personal experiences under the heel of the Russians in Poland, and later as an emigree in Hungary, with a brief interlude of a return visit to Poland. Now- in fiction- she writes of Kristina, an emigree Pole, whose husband -after eight years' exile in Siberia- is back in Warsaw, working for the Communists, while Kristina has a receptionist's job in a Paris dress salon. The most unusual and interesting part of the story is the inside picture of haute couture, the internal politics, the petty jealousies, the squalor behind the glossy front, the build-up of tension to the showings, the interrelationship of owners, mannequins, vendeuses and menials; the emotional situations precipitated by sex divagations. Against this background is told Kristina's personal story of the triangle in which she finds herself, when her husband comes on a Communist mission to Paris, expecting to take her back, at almost the moment when she realizes she is profoundly in love with a Free Poland army officer, on brief leave in Paris. Kristina is an irritatingly unstable, almost neurotic person and one gets thoroughly annoyed with her, at the same time understanding her conflicts. The writing is difficult, awkward, oblique, but there is a holding quality that carries the reader through the areas of arrested motion.

Pub Date: June 8th, 1954
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin