Bonnie Smith here tells Madame Lucie's colorful life history, first by skillfully recording the concierge's reminiscences and then by describing her own observations as a participant in Madame Lucie's world. The overall effect is an unusual, richly textured image of modern France as it was experienced by a figure of the working class. Madame Lucie's life and her memories—moving, engrossing, entertaining—are a valuable source of insight into French culture and society. As she herself says early in the book, "What I'm telling is the history of France."
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