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The Coldest Winter: A Stringer in Liberated Europe

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  37 reviews
In this elegant and affecting companion to her “extraordinary” memoir, Borrowed Finery, a young writer flings herself into a Europe ravaged by the Second World War (The Boston Globe)

In 1946, Paula Fox walked up the gangplank of a partly reconverted Liberty with the classic American hope of finding experience—or perhaps salvation—in Europe. She was twenty-two years old
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published 2005)
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Average rating 3.41  · 
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K.M. Soehnlein
It's 1946. Europe is devastated by World War II -- not yet in Marshall Plan recovery mode -- when Paula Fox, then only 23, spends a year traveling as a a "stringer" (a reporter filing occasional dispatches to a wire service based in London). This memoir isn't really about the news stories she was sent to write, but more about episodes and impressions made on a young woman who isn't sure what she's seeking or what she expects to find.

Fox is young and impressionable and attractive, but this isn't
Jan 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. What I appreciated most was Paula Fox's elegant simplicity. She had this amazing ability to create a scene, a feeling, even complete character profiles in very few words. I was amazed that such a huge experience could be culled down to so little and yet still convey so much activity. The last paragraph of the chapter entitled "Perlita" is something I always want to remember:

"As I look at her in my mind's eye, I am reminded not of the loftiness or dignity of the human
Jun 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another "to-read" bites the dust. I love goal setting! But, enough about me. This is a memoir. Paula Fox is known to me as a Young Adult author. Her YA books are very good and very good for young adults. Her biography BORROWED FINERY was quite a grim look at her childhood, and this book follows that but with not much mention of that childhood. She does mention her father briefly and all of the good contacts that she makes in her trip to Europe are because of some acquaintance of her father. Plus ...more
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written (but spare) account of a young journalist traveling in northern Europe immediately after WWII. The book is as much a "coming of age" novel, as it is a bleak portrait of the devastation and destitution Europe faced in the aftermath of the war. Fox is a sublime writer. She perfectly captures the emotions and innocence of a young woman making her way out into the world, as well as providing a bleak portrait of the remains of war.
I have recommended this book to everyone I know.
Feb 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memiors
This memoir ended up not really being my thing.

If this was a bunch of stories coming from someone I know, I'd be sitting there with rapt attention and wanting to know all of the details and I'd really appreciate them. Coming from a stranger though, I found most of it to be rather boring. It's also really disjointed and kind of hard to follow. Or maybe I was just so bored by it I missed details. I also find that for me personally, I don't do well with memoirs that are really just collections of t
Margaret Sankey
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In an impressionistic memoir, Fox describes her time as a stringer for American and British newspapers in the immediate aftermath of WWII in England, France, Czechoslovakia, Spain and Poland, encountering concentration camp survivors, adrift members of the resistance, cynical wheeler dealers and idealistic political strivers, many of whom were hungry for anyone to document their existence.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short, tight and affecting prose pace a journey through Europe a year after WWII. Beautiful travel writing; makes me want to go on a journey.
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Wanting to escape life in New York, where she’d grown up, Fox saves up her earnings from waiting table and books a bargain passage to post-war London in 1946. She gets a job as a stringer from a start-up news service and gets dispatched briefly to Paris, and then to Poland during the coldest European winter in twenty years. In Warsaw she meets Mrs. Grassner, a woman from “a Jewish woman’s organization in the Midwest.” Fox is there to cover the human interest stories surrounding the new Parliamen ...more
sara fasy
Jun 12, 2007 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nonfiction writer friends
Memoir of 1947 post-war Europe, fledgling jounalist, written by Paula Fox whose illustrious screenwriter parents abandoned her at early age- her book Borrowed Finery explores her childhood. This book finds her at 23, sent to be a stringer in Prague and Warsaw, spare portraits of the demoralized rubble-strewn cities, then Spain and the Franco influence with allusions to defeated Republicans living in semi-hiding. Interesting to see the way memory works at such a distance, you can imagine the Pari ...more
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
I came across a story about Paula Fox in The New Yorker as I was reading this. The story covered both her life and writing, and apparently she's experienced quite a few setbacks that would devastate a lesser person.

This memoir has kind of a dreamy quality, probably since it was written many years after the fact. I was just plodding along with the story, thinking it was just a pleasant remembrance of a time long ago, but also wondering what the point was really, when the final chapter very moving
Jun 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This brief memoir of the author's time as a young post-war journalist, working as a stringer in Europe, consists of a series of vignettes as the author moves from assignment to assignment. In this respect, it is less a memoir than a series of sketchy recollections assembled into a book. The writing is spare; the author provides just enough detail for the reader to form a vague image of the time and place. The author seemed to be subtly melodramatic at times: I felt as if she were hinting at some ...more
Jun 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, 2009-reads
A perfect winter read. Paula Fox writes about her experiences traveling abroad in Europe as an early twentysomething journalist with haunting brevity as she recounts her experiences among the postwar cities of London, Paris and Warsaw. Fox somehow avoids the sentimental even in her most personal experiences. Her short essays reflect the devastation wrecked on the people and places of Europe. A great short read that could be finished in one sitting or a couple of metro rides in my case
Dec 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this heavily atmospheric memoir we see a Europe still devastated by the recent war. Instead of the euphoria and prosperity America is experiencing, the places Ms Fox visits- London, Warsaw, Prague, Barcelona are all still stunned and rubble filled, with shell shocked and grief stricken survivors. As we now know , some of Europe never does fully recover, but seeing it first hand thru Paula Fox's eyes is fascinating, eyeopening and ultimately very sad. ...more
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. Very quick read, but extremely evocative. I've read just enough about Europe from WWI to WWII to be familiar with much of what she described. What was most interesting, however, was this vision of how life continued immediately after the war. Somehow, stories that I know seem to just jump to the fifties, particularly the American fifties of prosperity and (relative) contentment. This book really illuminated small lives that lived in the aftermath of those horrible years. ...more
Mar 10, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this. I'm very interested in post-WWII Europe, especially Eastern Europe, but this book just didn't hold my interest. I would have liked it much better if there had been something more to tie the vignettes together, or some sort of over-arching narrative, but there wasn't. It was all just so...terse.

I just couldn't do it.
Aug 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Taking her "memoir train" the next step, Paula provides humanness to the cold aftermath of WWII in Europe. She uses short vignettes of those she met and observed in day to day "living" during their survival.
Written in the same spartan/non-judgmental/highly intense/beautifully drafted style of her previous memoir, she captures the reader to the point that they also experience what she has.
May 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been wanting to check this author out for a while, I have a few of her books here from the library.
The timing on reading "Stringer......." was neat because I had just read all these letters between my Dad's 2 younger brothers (Dick and Wally)when they were stationned in Europe during WWII IN 1945 AND 1946.
Charles Kerns
I asked library to reserve The Coldest Winter, a book about the Korean War, and they sent me this one. Same title but this one, a pallid, bloodless wandering memoir covering a 22 year old's travels in Europe post WW2. Best feature--it's short. How could someone who went thru those times remember only the inane. Or maybe she thought someone had already written everything else. ...more
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This author is the Observational Queen. She noticed the everyday things and wrote about them in a way that awed and inspired me. Then she dropped those observations abruptly to move onto the next, however some lingered in my mind for hours. The content was intriguing as well, the author becoming an adult and a journalist in post-war Europe (1946), complete with political and human musings.
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Memoir of her time as a young stringer in post war Europe. Prose is simple and direct, which is refreshing! She is author of Newbery winner "Slave Dancer". She creates a moment in time dreary Europe with colorful characters ...more
Kate B
Feb 15, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wanted more. Too brief a memior for a very important time in post-war Europe.
Jun 14, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like terse writing but this is a bit too terse even for my taste. I wish she had filled in the blanks a bit more.
Nov 16, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
All anecdotes, no overall narrative or analysis (at least in the 50 pages I got through before giving up).
921 Fox The children's writer provides a memoir of her days as a lowly reporter in Germany after the war. Interesting for those that know the author or like reading about that time period in Europe. ...more
Feb 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Paula Fox. This obviously wasn't as powerful as "Borrowed Finery," but it wasn't meant to be. I can't wait for the next installment in her memoirs. ...more
Apr 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A provocative set of short pieces written by a mature writer reflecting on her much younger self in Europe just after WWII, written in a stark but compelling style.
Sep 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Autobiographical book about this lady's experience as a reporter in Europe immediately after World War II ...more
Linda L
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For me, the writing just didn't grab my interest. ...more
Dec 08, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
C Some interesting things but there's not much of a flow and I couldn't get into it; skimmed
Emory Harkins
3.5 stars
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Paula Fox was an American author of novels for adults and children and two memoirs. Her novel The Slave Dancer (1973) received the Newbery Medal in 1974; and in 1978, she was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal. More recently, A Portrait of Ivan won the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 2008.

A teenage marriage produced a daughter, Linda, in 1944. Given the tumultuous relationship with her ow

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