Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged France

Paris Was Ours

“Paris lives in its details,” observes one contributor to this collection of essays. But equally true is the idea of Paris that thrives through clichés. You’ll find spare references to the Eiffel Tower, berets, cheese, and wine in Paris Was Ours, although the apparently ineluctable forms of French snobbery are discussed. What this anthology delivers instead are a wide breadth of creative and nuanced meditations on the culture, history, and inhabitants of the City of Light, confirming that all our romantic associations with Paris, despite the city’s faults, are quite justified.

Poverty, Charity, and Motherhood: Maternal Societies in Nineteenth-Century France

The Society for Maternal Charity, a women-run organization, survived more than one hundred years through wars, revolutions, and changes of government. The group began because the large numbers of foundlings, abandoned due to poverty, were not only expensive for the State but had a very high mortality rate. The women’s societies were viewed as better bargains than orphanages and an extension of the women’s domestic sphere. Besides, France needed population for cannon fodder in its many wars.

Poverty, Charity, and Motherhood: Maternal Societies in Nineteenth-Century France

The women-run organization The Society for Maternal Charity survived more than a hundred years of wars, revolutions, and government changes. Initially the group began because of the number of children being abandoned due to poverty. Not only were these foundlings expensive for the state, but they also had a very high mortality rate. Women’s societies were viewed as more ideal than orphanages and seen as an extension of the women’s domestic sphere.

Partir (Leaving)

David McKenzie’s Asylum is a flawed but breathtakingly compelling portrait of violent sexual obsession, deception, and mental illness. Unremittingly dark, this film also presents us with a woman who rails against the constraints placed on women in 1950s middle class Britain. Stella (Natasha Richardson) is a bored housewife who makes her home on the grounds of a mental hospital outside London.


Phillippe Lioret’s award-winning film, Welcome, zooms in on the anti-Muslim attitudes now gripping much of the Western world. The result is compelling, poignant, and profoundly tragic. At the center of the story is Bilal (Firat Ayverdi), a seventeen-year-old Iraqi Kurd who has somehow traveled to Calais, a small city on the northern coast of France.

Colonial Metropolis: The Urban Grounds of Anti-Imperialism and Feminism in Interwar Paris

Interwar Paris conjures up images of romance and renewal. From the ashes and rubble of the First World War, families reunite and rebuild under what seemed to be the end of the most dire of circumstances.

Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Alison Weir is first a historian, and it shows in Captive Queen. She studied Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 1970s and 1990s and realized one day that “the nature of medieval biography, particularly of women, is the piecing together of fragments of information and making sense of them.

Coco Before Chanel

Spoiler Alert Prior to seeing this movie, I associated Coco Chanel with couture fashion and high society women with size two figures, like Audrey Hepburn and Nancy Reagan. Coco Before Chanel introduces us to the woman Chanel was before revolutionizing women’s fashion and becoming a fashion icon to the rich, famous and not so famous.


Reading this review will tell you all you need to know about Taken. If you haven't see the film, perhaps now is the time for you to cease reading, as spoilers abound.

The Women Incendiaries

The Women Incendiaries was reprinted in paperback this year from the nonprofit book publisher, Haymarket Books. This classic feminist text was first published in France in 1963 and translated to English three years later.

The Five-Forty-Five to Cannes

No point beating about the bush. Might as well get the finale over with right now at the top, instead of coyly building to it with flourishes of logic and neat exempla. Here goes. This is one terrific book Tess Uriza Holthe has written. It's tough, slapstick, delicate, witty, bawdy, rueful and superbly crafted. One minute she throws her head back in laughter; the next she whips out a blade and knifes you in the ribs. Can't trust her at all, meaning she's the best sort of writer.

The Bridesmaid

Claude Chabrol is a grandfather of French cinema; he is one of the major figures of the French New Wave who is still making frequent, full-length films.

Glory in a Line: A Life of Foujita

Readers interested in art, Paris, Tokyo, or multiculturalism in the first half of the twentieth century will enjoy Phyllis Birnbaum’s carefully documented biography of Foujita’s tumultuous life as an aristocratic playboy and fiercely dedicated artist, both acclaimed and vilified for his controversial works.

Breaking the Silence: French Women’s Voices from the Ghetto

In her recently translated book Breaking the Silence, Fadela Amara attempts to rework and redefine feminism as it relates to her specific time and place. As a Muslim girl of Algerian immigrant parents growing up in the projects, Amara’s experience of feminism as the term is traditionally defined by western academics was non-existent. In fact, her book critiques the very term as it exists now, perceived by her to be owned by the white middle and upper-class women who coined it.