Post-World War II Paris was a paradox. The pousse-pousse carts transporting people up and down the Seine and scenes of the Eiffel Tower romanticized it. Yet so much of it remained in chaos.
This week, I took to Tik-Tok to look back on Parisian life in 1945. The short video includes some of my favourite historical photos from that time. These and many more inspired me to start Woman On The Wall on the streets of Paris. Read on for the rest of the text from the video. Watch it in full:
@robinriversauthor #greenscreen #monalisa #paris #worldwar2 #liberation #booktok #novels ♬ World War II – Jeffrey J. Torres
Men fighting, resistance factions, bread lines, the vigilante punishment of horizontal collaborators, all stood in stark contrast to Paris as the City of Light.
Woman On The Wall begins in May 1945.
With the liberation of Paris having occurred nine months earlier, the city still found itself submerged in the political, social, and personal strife brought on by the Nazi Occupation. I chose this moment in post-World War II Paris specifically because the Mona Lisa was not officially returned to the Louvre until June 1945. I wanted the two timelines to match Leonardo da Vinci’s actual death date of May 2. He passed away in Amboise, France – just a few hours south and the main setting for the historical timeline.
I found myself inspired by the beauty, spirit, and chaos of Paris and French people at this time. The paradox allowed me to recreate a moment in time when the Mona Lisa really was not yet rehung upon the walls of the Louvre and ancient mysteries could very well have surfaced in the heart of such a place.