In the early 1960s, most middle-class American women in their twenties had their lives laid out for them: Marriage, children, and life in the suburbs. Most, but not all.
Breathless is the story of a girl who represents those who rebelled against conventional expectations. Paris was a magnet for those eager to resist domesticity, and like many young women of the decade, Nancy K. Miller was enamored of everything French - from perfume and Herms scarves to the writing of Simone de Beauvoir and the New Wave films of Jeanne Moreau. After graduating from Barnard College in 1961, Miller set out for a year in Paris, with a plan to take classes at the Sorbonne and live out a great romantic life inspired by the movies.
After a string of sexual misadventures, she gave up her short-lived freedom and married an American expatriate who promised her a lifetime of three-star meals and five-star hotels. But her husband wasn't who he said he was, and she eventually had to leave Paris and her dreams behind.
This stunning memoir chronicles a young woman’s coming-of-age tale, and offers a glimpse into the intimate lives of girls before feminism.
What did you love best about Breathless?
The story of an American college graduate who think that Paris will fulfill all her dreams resonates with me and so many others. What she begins to understand--about the French, the culture, America and herself--is a classic coming of age story with all the bumps in the road. Nancy Miller doesn't hold back but she also writes with wit, depth and intelligence.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Breathless?
The opening chapter pulls the reader right into a girl's first encounter in Paris. Trying to be sophisticated yet still so naive, Miller's affair with her parents' pal is a page-turner and sets up the rest of the book beautifully.
What does Cassandra Campbell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Campbell has the right cultured tone to bring out the pseudo-sophistication and wit of Miller's tale.
This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?
Women who find their value in sleeping with men.
Any additional comments?
This book is old fashioned in it's values. I don't think anyone under the age of 60 would enjoy this women's adventures in France. I couldn't make it through the book it's story after story of her sleeping with men just because she's too afraid to say no, I got disgusted and had to stop.