'Paulette: French by birth, English by chance' by Professor Martin Sorrell

Exeter Professor publishes mother's memoirs

Professor Martin Sorrell, Emeritus Professor of French at the University of Exeter has recently published a memoir based on his French mother’s life.

Professor Sorrell, who worked in the French department from 1970 to 2012 and is well known amongst Exeter’s alumni community, wrote the book 'Paulette: French by birth, English by chance' based on recordings his mother made in 2002.

Paulette Tourdes was born in Jussac, a village in south-west Auvergne, in 1916. She spent half of her childhood there and half in the nearby town of Aurillac, growing up as part of a large extended family in typically rustic rural France. The went to Spain for several months at the start of the Civil War, and not long after moved to England, having met her future husband in France; they were married in 1941.

The book is a tale of two languages and two cultures, overshadowed by two World Wars, political uncertainties and mental illness. It examines what it means to leave your homeland and to embrace another and, for the children, the challenges of growing up bilingual.

Since publication it has received a host of positive reviews, including a write-up in the Westen Morning News weekend supplement in March.

It can be purchased online.

Date: 16 April 2018

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