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Them: A Memoir of Parents by Francine Du Plessix Gray

Them: A Memoir of Parents by Francine Du Plessix Gray

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Them:  A Memoir of Parents by Francine Du Plessix Gray is a 529-page hardcover published in 2005 from The Penguin Press, The Penguin Group.  The dust jacket has shelf wear along the top and bottom edges.  Inside, the spine has light bumping to the bottom.  Otherwise, the book is nearly new, with crisp clean pages and tight binding.  The condition is very good.

Book Summary

Alexander Liberman and Tatiana Du Plessix were two extravagantly talented Russian emigres who fled wartime Paris to become New York's first and grandest "power couple."  Their life stories spanned the twentieth century, and poignantly reflected the sociopolitical complexities at the heart of it.  Them:  A Memoir of Parents is written by their daughter,  Francine du Plessix Gray.  In this superbly crafted memoir, she tells the saga of their triumph and decline--a saga that mirrors, and could only have occurred with, the chaos of the last half century.

Tatiana, the wife of a French diplomat, was a beautiful, sophisticated "White Russian" who had been the muse of the famous Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky.  Alexander, the ambitious son of a prominent Russian Jewish businessman, was a gifted magazine editor and aspiring artist.  As part of Paris's artistic Russian emigre community in the 1930s, the two were destined to meet.  They began a passionate affair, and the year after Paris was occupied during World War II, they fled to New York with Tatiana's young daughter, Francine.

There they determinedly rose to the top of high society, holding court for a Who's Who list of intellectuals and entertainers.   Tatiana became an icon of New York City fashion, and the hats she designed for Saks Fifth Avenue were de rigueur for stylish women everywhere.  "Alex" eventually came to preside over the entire Conde Nast publishing empire, becoming for four decades its magazines' gray eminence, the man who told American women how to look, where to travel, what to read.  Flamboyant and outrageous, bold and brilliant, the Libermans were irresistible to friends like Marlene Dietrich and Salvador Dali.  But to those who knew them well they were also highly neurotic, narcissistic, and ruthlessly self-promoting.  The glamorous life they shared was both creative and destructive, and was marked by an exceptional bond forged out of their highly charged love and raging self-centeredness. 

Them:  A Memoir of Parents is a beautifully written homage to two extraordinary people who were larger-than-life emblems of a bygone age.  Written with honesty and grace by the person who knew them best, this generational saga is a survivor's story.  Tatiana and Alexander survived the Russian Revolution, the fall of France, and New York's factory of fame.  Their daughter, Francine, survived them.

ISBN:  1-59420-049-1

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