Archive for the ‘Biographies’ Category

Did you know that Coco Channel was a Nazi spy? In this book, the author reveals the truth of Chanel’s long-whispered collaboration with Hitler’s high-ranking officials in occupied Paris from 1940 to 1944. He writes of her decades-long affair with Baron von Dincklage, described in most Chanel biographies as being an innocuous, English-speaking tennis player, playboy, and harmless dupe—a loyal German soldier and diplomat serving his mother country and not a member of the Nazi party. However, in Vaughan’s absorbing, meticulously researched book, Dincklage is revealed to have been a Nazi master spy and German military intelligence agent who ran a spy ring in the Mediterranean and in Paris and reported directly to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, right hand to Hitler. The book pieces together how Coco Chanel became a German intelligence operative, and how, despite the French court’s opening a case concerning her espionage activities during the war, she was able to return to Paris at age seventy and triumphantly resurrect and reinvent herself—and rebuild what has become the iconic House of Chanel.

Reviewed by Mrs. Vaughn


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This novel chronicles the life of Queen Victoria, the longest-reigning British monarch to date, and her husband, Prince Consort Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Beginning with extensive facts on the turbulant and controlled childhood life of the first cousins, Gill offers an inside look on one of the greatest love stories of all time. Experience life with the royal family with Albert as the proud and perfect German father, Victoria as the stubborn, but loving mother and their 9 children–Vicky, Bertie, Alice, Alfie, Helena, Louise, Arthur, Leopold and the youngest, Beatrice. Dive into English history with this thrilling biography on one of the greatest queens of England and her handsome, German husband, the Prince Consort. Enjoy!

Reviewed by Caroline W ’16

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Funky, unconventional, sharp and warm, full of great stories of true faith and messy lives. Here’s an example that is all that needs to be said:   “It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do. ”

Reviewed by Mrs. Henegar

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If you’ve seen the movie, Julie and Julia, you will love this book!  Written by Julia Child and her nephew, Alex Prud’Homme, My Life in France is the first person account of Julia Child’s experience in France as she developed her love of cooking, particularly French cuisine. This book is more than Julia’s account of her cooking classes.  Her use of French expressions to describe her travels, her new friends, and recipes makes me very jealous of everyone who has some knowledge of French!

Gracieux!  I am calling or texting my son (who had 5 years of French) every other day to explain to me the nuances or humor of the next new French expression I discover as I read.  Besides that, you history buffs out there will be enthralled by the descriptions of life in France after World War II: the politics, the deprivation, the culture!  If you are interested in a career with the Foreign Service office or in international relations this is also the book for you.  Julia’s husband, Paul Child, was stationed in France with the US Information Service, thus, her life there.  He was also a very skilled photographer and artist and many of his photographs enhance the pages of the book.

And, I didn’t even mention Julia’s descriptions of the food!  Mouth watering! The best news is that you will have the most delightful gastronomical experience without a worry about caloric intake.

Cieux!  I’ve read so much about life in France and discovered so many interesting French expressions that I almost feel like I could speak French, if I only knew what I was saying! Tant pis!  Perhaps, one of you Francophiles will read this book and be able to help me enjoy it even more!

Reviewed by Mrs. Milazzo

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By far the best book I have read in a long, long time, this is the true story of Louie Zamperini, a man I had honestly never heard of, but who I now will never forget. Some history buffs may remember Louie as a track star–he set many world records and even ran in the Berlin Olympics as Hitler looked on, but when Louie enlisted in the US Air Force at the start of World World II, his story really began. Think Odysseus meets Survivor… as Louie’s plane goes down in the Pacific, his amazing story will take you places and expose a side of history that you probably never knew existed. This masterfully written book will be one that you absolutely can’t put down. A definite must read for Upper School and adult readers!

Reviewed by Mrs. Archambault

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I had heard a lot about The Glass Castle, and asked for it for Christmas along with some other books. It was the first one that I read. The book is a memoir of Jeanette Walls’ life. Her free spirited parents move all across the country with her siblings as they live in poverty. It’s full of adventures, but at the same time there is a lot of seriousness behind her stories. There were times in the book that I was laughing and times where my jaw was dropped in shock. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was impressed and inspired by Jeanette Walls’ will and determination through out the entire book.

Reviewed by Samira ’11

*Note: this review intentionally follows “Breaking Night”, the book that Mrs. Zahrobsky reviewed. The two are a lot alike and if you like one then you can rest assured that you will really like the other as well. -Mrs. Archambault

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This is the true story of a homeless girl growing up in the Bronx and the journey that she takes to get into Harvard.  From the time she is two years old, Liz Murray faces an uphill battle to simply survive. As she grows older, she begins to see the value of education and how it can help get her off the streets.  She lives through many horrors and is tempted to give up time and time again, but through ambition, will, and pure stubbornness, somehow she survives.

If this woman can overcome hunger, poverty and homelessness to become a Harvard graduate then we as a community should be able to achieve so much!  We should all read this book to gain the inspiration to go into the world and try to help those who don’t have the resources and support that we do.  Like Liz, there are children in Chattanooga who are homeless and victims of parents with drug abuse problems.  They don’t choose to be in this situation and if they can’t find a way out out, they could become drug addicts themselves.  Let’s find a way to help them.  Liz Murray can help us get there.  Truly an inspiring read! Due to some mature content, recommended for upper school and adult readers.

Reviewed by Mrs. Zahrobsky, Fine Arts

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