Poum and Alexandre: A Paris Memoir

Poum and Alexandre: A Paris MemoirThis Is The Story Of Two Flawed Eccentrics Everything They Do Subverts Their Firm Intention Of Keeping Up Appearances They Meet Just After The War In Liberated Paris But They Cannot Quite Free Themselves From The Many Strings Attached To Them The Old Aunts, The Sisters, The Cousins, The Nuns And The Ominous Concierges Who Dog Their Footsteps.Alexandre Is A Banker And A Resistant And Lives In A World Of Numbers And Roman Emperors Poum Resides In The Odyssey And In Her Bed, Hiding From The Mysterious Disapproval Of Their Relatives, For They Both Seem To Persist In Some Irreparable Faux Pas Which Has Them Wading Through A Lifetime Pickle Their Daughter, Catherine, Would Like To Help But She Seems To Be Part Of The Problem.This Is No Ordinary Childhood, And Catherine De Saint Phalle S Acceptance Of Her Parents, Despite Their Flaws, Shines Through, Propelling Us Head First Into Their Strange, Yet Beautiful, Parisian World Poum And Alexandre Is A Searingly Honest, Humorous And Moving Elegy To Family And Place, And A Meditation On The Ways They Ultimately Define Us.

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  • Paperback
  • 285 pages
  • Poum and Alexandre: A Paris Memoir
  • Catherine de Saint Phalle
  • English
  • 02 June 2019
  • 9780994395771

10 thoughts on “Poum and Alexandre: A Paris Memoir

  1. says:

    This is a strange and bewitching book a memoir of Catherine s Parisian childhood with her unconventional parents, Marie Antoinette Poum and AlexandreI could never doubt that I was reading the impressions and memories of a real eight year old girl, and yet there were times when I might have been reading a fairy tale A tale that was both flooded with light and overcast by dark clouds.Stories was so important to Poum and Alexandre they loved the telling of tales, and they drew from those stories to try to make sense of the world, their relationship and their own seemingly troubled history, for themselves and for their daughter.Consequently, this book is threaded through with references to Greek mythology, the Odyssey, the Magna Carta, the Napoleonic Wars, Rodin and Claudel, the French Resistance It sounds a little eccentric and there are moments when it makes the book a little too dark and dense but it feels utterly real and utterly right.Catherine knows that her parents and her upbringing are unusual and the words she writes about filled with wonder, wi...

  2. says:

    A very strange book I bought it on the strength of the review in the SMH below A memoir of growing up in Paris with extremely eccentric parents You really need a grounding in classical literature, ancient mythology and middle ages to Napoleonic French history to understand it Every event is wrapped in the stories Catherine s parents tell which she uses as metaphors for their lives Frankly, it was boring to me The first 100 pages were the worst, but I broke my can t be bothered set it aside rule persisted The second part was slightly engaging, but not by much The Saint Phalles are nobles Dad was an Anglophile Count, who ran a bank and whose fortunes waxed and waned One moment he was buying Ming vases on a whim, another, well not the times of lack didn t seem to be lacking much except Ming vases He also seems to own property in England.The second part is Catherine s relationship with her fatherhe whisks her around Paris on outings, or to Bruges or elsewhere on a whim very strange On Sat afternoons Sundays he visits his wife children Catherine s parents aren t married.Her mother spends her days in bed reading, mainly The Odyssey the only time she Catherine go out is to Guerlain, where this distinctly odd woman insists the pre pubescent Catherine ...

  3. says:

    A memoir of her childhood Born in the 60s, her parents were not married it was the situation Her mother was full of eccentricities, including not wanting to be touched, a fear of death and kleptomania Her father played a major role in the Resistance, had many lovers, made and lost many a fortune but was devoted to his wife and youngest child Both parents told blood thirsty stories of the Greek, Roman, and Napoleon eras There is no doubt of Catherine s lo...

  4. says:

    A very high standard of prose to be sure, however, the writing is held in a constant state of cold, dispassionate seriousness The effect of this is supposed to imbue the eccentricities of the parents with some great,...

  5. says:

    Poum and Alexandre by Catherine de Saint Phalle is a curious book It s a memoir, focused on Saint Phalle s Parisian childhood with her unconventional parents, Marie Antoinette Poum and Alexandre The patterns of the eccentrics are often rigid My parents have many idiosyncrasies and any new ones become instant habits Theirs is a disciplined madness The book reads like a fairy tale Told through the eyes of eight year old Saint Phalle, her stories are studded with references to Greek mythology, The Odyssey, the Magna Carta, visits to Givenchy, the Napoleonic Wars and the French Resistance He talks the whole time about Alexander the Great, Constantine, Caesar, Julian the Apostate He tells me of palaces and forests, galloping horses and raped women His voice gathers momentum and his hands seize javelins and slave girls He canters up hills where we stare at burning cities These references both fanciful and factual provide context and focus for Saint Phalle s impressions of her parents, their relationship and their own seemingly troubled history My mother starts talking about a situation and stares out at my father with her shipwrecked eyes My father talks about William the Conqueror Saint Phalle refers to her parents with a mixture of awe, amazement and confusion Although clearly aware that her parents are unlike others, her words are free of judgement, and often humorous her energy returns It always returns near Roman ruins t...

  6. says:

    I wasn t sure whether I was envious of or pitied young Catherine Poum and Alexandre were an amazing, larger than life pair, and Catherine brings them to the reader with great affection I do, however, wis...

  7. says:

    An interesting memoir that reads like a collection of autobiographical short stories de Saint Phalle writes about her quirky but lovable parents in small snippets These fit together nicely though some explanations of their quirks get a little repetitive I t...

  8. says:

    To say this is a story of two flawed eccentrics doesn t do Poum Alexandre justice at all It is so much Quite beautifully written Poetic Rich in metaphor A philosophical work It is also a story about Catherine herself and living within and against the conventions of the time This book is beautiful I will read it again someday A treatise on freedom of thought and action, on being happily different, on deeply connecting to culture and the vir...

  9. says:

    The curiosities of Poum, the enigmatic bibliophile, crippled by catholic guilt and Alexandre, the soft centrered gourmand are brought to light through fragments of their observant but naive daughter Catherine s memory of her peculiar childhood The glorious prose contains a resplendent array of metaphors and turns of phrases that are truly evocative of the mysteries of childhood.My major criti...

  10. says:

    I saw this at the Adelaide writers festival almost 2 years ago I missed seeing her talk and the blurb sounded interesting I finally got it out of the library This is a quirky memoir remembering a youth brought up by two very eccentric and elderly parents in the UK and later Paris Our heroine has a nanny that s...

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