The Dancing Bear by Frances Faviell, a pseudonym for the late author and painter Olivia Faviell Lucas, is her vintage historical personal expat memoir, free for a limited time courtesy of publisher Dean Street Press.
This was originally published in 1954 by Rupert Hart-Davis under the title The Dancing Bear: Berlin de profundis — An account of the author’s experiences in Berlin, 1946-49, and this reprint edition includes an afterword by the author’s son, and contains never before published sketches by the author made while they lived in Berlin.
The memoir covers the experiences of postwar conditions and daily life in Berlin during the years immediately after World War II, where the author’s husband, a British civil servant, was posted as part of the reconstruction efforts alongside his family. Some of the observations about their German friends and neighbours eventually formed the basis of Faviell’s literary fiction novel A House on the Rhine, which has previously been offered free.
Offered worldwide, available at Amazon.
Free for a limited time, available worldwide @ Amazon
You can also read more about the history of this book and its author over at one of the publisher’s tribute blogposts.
‘You don’t want to mind about any of this,’ said the driver, waving a hand at the grey ruins and the greyer dust. ‘In a few days you’ll be so used to it that you’ll like them. Berlin’s a grand place! I’d rather be here than anywhere else in the world, and that’s a fact.’
‘No more perceptive portrait of Germany in defeat has been etched in word than Frances Faviell’s first book, The Dancing Bear, which made so powerful an impact upon me that I read it in a single sitting.’ Guy Ramsey, Daily Telegraph
‘Berlin during the decisive years from 1946 to 1949. … The prostitution which paid so handsomely; the black market which brought in rich rewards, although it meant that the Berliners had to part with treasured possessions; the night clubs which catered for still baser tastes; the impoverished intellectuals and the starving professors and the poor who had only their wits with which to eke out a bare sustenance—all this and much else the author describes with insight, incisiveness, and realism.’
Times Literary Supplement
‘There is great charity in this book; there is the sharp, limpid eye of the artist; there is sound realism; and there is an unswerving, passionate desire to tell the truth.” John Connell, Evening News
‘They were hard and terrible times, and brilliantly does Frances Faviell describe them for us. We meet the Altmann family and follow their joys and troubles. … The book is a brilliant pen-picture of the post-war years. We have British, French, American and Russian characters, but the background is always Berlin, and the strange tunes to which its bear danced.’ Liverpool Daily Post
This new edition includes an afterword by Frances Faviell’s son, John Parker, and other supplementary material.