In the early 1960s, most middle-class American women in their twenties had their lives laid out for them: marriage, children, and life in the suburbs. Most, but not all. Breathless is the story of a girl who represents those who rebelled against conventional expectations.
Paris was a magnet for those eager to resist domesticity, and like many young women of the decade, Nancy K. Miller was enamored of everything French—from perfume and Hermès scarves to the writing of Simone de Beauvoir and the New Wave films of Jeanne Moreau. After graduating from Barnard College in 1961, Miller set out for a year in Paris, with a plan to take classes at the Sorbonne and live out a great romantic life inspired by the movies. After a string of sexual misadventures, she gave up her short-lived freedom and married an American expatriate who promised her a lifetime of three-star meals and five-star hotels. But her husband wasn't who he said he was, and she eventually had to leave Paris and her dreams behind.
This stunning memoir chronicles a young woman’s coming-of-age tale, and offers a glimpse into the intimate lives of girls before feminism.
About the Author
After graduating from Barnard College, Nancy K. Miller sailed to Paris to study French literature and complete a master’s degree. Already in love with the city from movies and novels, she hoped to create a new, more sophisticated identity for her twenty-year-old, nice-New York-Jewish-girl self. Several years of adventures and misadventures later, including marriage to an American ex-pat, Miller returned to New York minus the husband but ready to reinvent herself as an academic and writer.
Now a well-known feminist scholar, Miller has authored and edited more than a dozen books, publishing literary criticism, personal essays, and family memoirs. Her most recent memoir, What They Saved: Pieces of a Jewish Past, won the Jewish Journal Prize for 2012 and told the story of her quest to recreate her family’s lost history. She is a Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center, CUNY, where she teaches classes in memoirs, graphic novels, and women’s studies. Miller lectures widely, both nationally and internationally, and her work is anthologized in popular volumes on autobiography and collections of feminist essays. She also co-edits Columbia University Press’s Gender and Culture series, which she co-founded in 1983 with the late Carolyn Heilbrun.