"A pin-sharp biography which unfurls like gripping fiction. wonderful, haunting, thought-provoking
" (Melanie Reid The Times
"I have not read a better portrait of the moral impossibility of that time and place for people, like Priscilla, who found themselves trapped in it... A wonderful book
" (Daily Telegraph
"As Shakespeare acknowledges, his aunt's is one of millions of wartime stories. But thanks to the extensive paperwork, and his energetic digging, he creates a detailed and vivid narrative. This is a moving, and constantly surprising story
" (Matthew Bell Independent on Sunday
"So gripping it reads like a novel
" (Rachel Johnson Evening Standard
"This mysterious story of the Occupation in France has all the qualities of a fascinating novel, with exquisite social, sexual and moral nuance
" (Antony Beevor)
"Shakespeare offers a nuanced and detailed psychological study of the effect of the Second World war on an ordinary woman. The result is just as absorbing as any biography of a war hero
" (Sunday Times
"Nicholas Shakespeare has employed all his superb gifts as a writer to tell the picaresque tale of his aunt in wartime occupied France. Priscilla is a femme fatale worthy of fiction, and the author traces her tangled, troubled, romantic and often tragically unromantic experiences through one of the most dreadful periods of 20th-century history
" (Max Hastings)
"Priscilla brilliantly exposes the tangled complexities behind that question so easily asked from the comfort of a peacetime armchair: "What would I have done?"
"Priscilla's descent into hell runs eerily parallel to that of France itself; Faustian, fascinating and in the end extremely sad" (Sebastian Faulks Observer, Books of the Year
"An account of the author's aunt's life in France under the Nazis. Her descent parallels that of France: Grim but fascinating
" (Sebastian Faulks Observer
"A gripping excavation of a woman's secret past, Priscilla
is also a fascinating portrait of France during the Second World War, and of the many shadowy and corrupt deals made by the French with their Nazi occupiers" (Caroline Moorehead)
, Nicholas Shakespeare captures the soul of a young Englishwoman who, to survive in Nazi-occupied France, is forced to make choices which few in England ever had to face
. She remained her own unflinching judge and jury to the end" (Charlotte Rampling)
. Shakespeare, a novelist and biographer of some note, is too good a writer to succumb to sensationalism. Instead, and after some impressive research, he builds a nuanced, sensitive portrait of this sad and glamorous member of his family
.. As the life of Priscilla shows, surviving the occupation was too complicated an affair for any black-and-white verdict" (Economist
"Like the author's biography of Bruce Chatwin, this is, beneath the obvious drama, a subtle, masterfully written work
" (Thomas Keneally The Australian, Books of the Year
"This absorbing book has many of the excitements of a thriller
"Priscilla's is a remarkable story, teased out with great skill by her nephew, himself one of the best English novelists of our time
" (Allan Massie Wall Street Journal
"Nicholas Shakespeare has employed all his superb gifts as a writer to tell the picaresque tale of his aunt in wartime occupied France. Priscilla is a femme fatale worthy of fiction, and the author traces her tangled, troubled, romantic and often tragically unromantic experiences through one of the most dreadful periods of 20th century history
" (Max Hastings)
"A thrilling story
. an intimate family memoir, a story of survival and a quest for biographical truth" (Sebastian Shakespeare Tatler
"[An] extraordinary true story of the author's aunt. A life of dark secrets, glamour, adventure and adversity during wartime.
" (Fanny Blake Woman & Home
"A tantalisingly original perspective of the Second World War
.Shakespeare shines a moving, intriguing light on the moral quandaries faced by ordinary civilians" (Robert Collins Sunday Times
is an unusual book, part biography, part family memoir, part detective story, but it reads like a novel and I found it impossible to put down
. As an evocation of the period and the moral hypocrisy of the times, it could hardly be bettered (4 stars, Book of the Week)" (Juliet Barker Mail on Sunday
The astonishing true story of a young woman's adventures, and misadventures, in the dangerous world of Nazi-occupied France.
For Priscilla, pre-war Paris was an exciting carousel of suitors, soirées and heartbreak, and eventually a lavish wedding to a French aristocrat.
But the arrival of the Nazi tanks signalled the end of life as a Vicomtesse, and the beginning of a precarious existence under German Occupation.
Over half a century later, her nephew, Nicholas Shakespeare, found a box of Priscilla's notebooks and journals. He began investigating the rumours that she had escaped a prisoner-of-war camp and fought for the Resistance - and he finally unearthed the truth behind suspicions of disreputable love affairs and far darker secrets.