How did Thieves of Paris come to life?
Monuments Men recently showed the grand scale of art theft carried out by the Nazis in France and introduces a real heroine who appears in my book–Rose Valland, the only French person allowed in the Jeu de Paume, the storehouse for looted art in France.
The infamous Nazi Holocaust that killed six million Jews throughout Europe numbs the mind when we confront the horrors of Auschwitz directly. In Thieves of Paris, Max St. Denis, a non-Jew, slowly realizes how the grip on Parisian Jews is tightening. He turns from stealing art to stealing Jews from the clutches of Nazi occupiers.
Guy de Rothschild’s memoir, The Whims of Fortune, introduced me to the extended Rothschild family and to Chateau Ferrières, the place where the fictional Max and the real Guy grew up. Now restored and under corporate ownership, the chateau houses several gourmet restaurants and a four-year school of French Excellence in cuisine, wines, hospitality and luxury.
Under Writings, see “outtakes” from the book—episodes that bring alive the everyday life of Occupied Paris, but didn’t make the cut into the final manuscript.