queen of the dessert…

Dear diablog,

I have just finished reading an extraordinary book which had figured on my Christmas list – I had requested 5 and this was number 2 so my present will last for another month or two, thanks Mme.

I suppose when one is born with the surname Shakespeare it is incumbent to show some writing skills and this young man has kept to his heritage.



The plot is extraordinary in that it is the true story of his aunt who, within the family, was recognised as a bit of a bĂȘte noire but now one seemed to be able to tell him why!

All remained a bit of a mystery until…


… he one day, after her death, found himself the recipient of a box full of papers and photos of Aunt Priscilla’s wartime exploits as an English citizen married to a French noble and trapped, a short time later, in Normandy after the German invasion.


Being not unattractive (in the context of the times and fashions)



she embarked on a number of liaisons with dubious characters of nationalities from French to German to Spanish – and a few more! – to attempt survival as an alien in an occupied country.

I shall not spoil the story or detail other than to remark that a) I had not realised that so many women encountered the same fate nor the effect it might have had on them, b) that there was a ‘camp’ for said ‘alien’ persons (only women) in France at Besancon, run by the French police no less, c) that the existence of this appears to be denied even today by the French Government (some would say typical in the light of the extent of their nation’s population fraternisation – having read other books on the topic it is interesting that the famed ‘resistance’ was minuscule until it looked as though the Allies might win), and finally that sexual activity was alive and well despite all else!

Whatever, Mr. Shakespeare’s depth of research is not just commendable (obviously spurred by found papers) but fascinating in its detail. I can’t but wonder what would have happened here under the same circumstances.


To sign off, I cannot find a generic heading under which to place this very readable manuscript as it embodies lots of stuff and, to his credit, emotion. I can recommend it as it appealed to me enough to have a second read in the future and to record that Priscilla consorted with a racing driver with a Delahaye


which is close to my heart and which was once owned by a close friend.

Yours, diablog, somewhat aghast