Maman, What Are We Called Now? was the question nine year-old Sylvie asked her mother in a crowded French railway station one day during the war. But why was this such an important if not disastrous thing to ask? It was because she and her mother were Jewish, living under assumed names and with forged papers, and therefore if anyone had overheard her hesitation about her real name they would have been immediately suspicious.
Sylvie’s father, André Amar, was arrested in July 1944 and for the next five weeks, until, miraculously, he came home, his wife Jacqueline (who wrote under the name Mesnil-Amar) kept a diary about her everyday life in Paris, as well as looking back at their life before the war and being in hiding over the previous four years. This is a moving and extraordinarily immediate description of life in France during the Occupation and of life in Paris during the Germans’ departure.
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