Francoise Frenkel was born in Poland in 1889. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, she opened the first French-language bookshop in Berlin with her husband. In the summer of 1939, with war looming, Frenkel fled to Paris. She sought refuge across occupied France for the next several years until finally escaping across the border to Switzerland, where she wrote a memoir documenting her refugee experience. Her memoir, originally published in 1945 as Rien ou poser sa tete (No Place to Lay One's Head), was rediscovered in an attic in southern France in 2010 and republished in the original French as well as in a dozen other languages. This is its first publication in the United States. Frenkel died in Nice in 1975.
Select Praise from the UK An astonishing memoir . . . as gripping as any thriller. --The Sunday Times A beautiful and important book...shocking yet delicate prose, cruelty and beauty combined in just over 250 pages. --The Independent [Frenkel] spins, almost out of nothingness, a crucial moment in time that ought to suspend itself over the consciences of her readers, her fellow men, vitally, critically and irrevocably. We are given only hints of a past, nothing of a future, a highly selective panorama of a present. Yet what we hold in our hands, as we hold this little volume, can be said to be pure gold. --Bookanista I cried and still couldn't put it down. --Lisa Appignanesi, award-winning author of Losing the Dead and Mad, Bad, and Sad A lost classic . . . Frenkel's tale and prose is utterly compelling, at once painful and exquisite. --Philippe Sands, author of East West Street Remarkable . . . A French equivalent to the anonymous A Woman in Berlin, and a non-fiction counterpoint to Nemirovsky's Suite Francaise. . . [A book that] everyone should hold in their hands. --Daily Telegraph (five stars) The book is not only a moving memoir but also an intriguing historical document, thanks not least to Frenkel's emphasis on the often unsolicited help she received from ordinary French people. --Natasha Lehrer, The Times Literary Supplement Riveting. . . . Frenkel, who died in 1975, writes that it is 'the duty of those who have survived to bear witness to ensure the dead are not forgotten.' Frenkel's remarkable story of resilience and survival does just that, and will truly resonate with readers. --Publishers Weekly Insightful, sympathetic, suspenseful, and eventually triumphant, this memoir is a worthy addition to the WWII canon. --Booklist (starred review) Detailed, emotional, and careful. . . . A compelling account of crushing oppression, those who sought to flee it, and those who, at great risk, offered help. --Kirkus Reviews (starred) Like a bookstore, Frenkel's memoir contains not one story, but many. There is, of course, her own odyssey to safety--but there's also the heroic tale of M. and Mme. Marius, Frenkel's friends and saviors; the comedy of the glamourous refugee who hoodwinked the Germans into saving her son; the tragedy of the young man accused of murdering his wife; the melodrama of hardened prison guards; and ultimately, a story of liberation and redemption. --BookPage