In 1946, when Europeans were leaving the
Old World en masse, 22-year-old journalist Paula Fox sailed from
her native New York toward the war-ravaged continent to work
as a stringer for a British news service.
Sixty years later, she wrote about her experience traveling across Europe’s ruined cities in her memoir, "The Coldest Winter," released in paperback this month.
Fox’s journey begins on the streets and clubs of New York, where she meets prominent talents of the era such as Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson and Billie Holiday. The glamour-filled beginning soon leads into a captivating series of adventures in London, Warsaw, Paris, Prague, Madrid and other cities.
In "The Coldest Winter," Fox talks about her work and her personal life, two things that seem to be inextricably intertwined. In Paris, for example, her interview with a Corsican politician leads to a passionate love affair, described with surprising frankness.
Fox, 83, who now lives in Brooklyn Heights, has an eye for details. She carefully captures the postwar mood of characters and cities, some of which also appear in the book’s black-and-white photographs. "The Coldest Winter" is not only Fox’s story but also a narrative of the war’s shattering impact on the life of the continent.
"The Coldest Winter" by Paula Fox (Picador, $13) is available at, or can be ordered through, these bookstores: The Bookmark Shoppe [6906 11th Ave. at 69th Street in Dyker Heights (718) 680-3680], BookCourt [163 Court St. at Dean Street in Cobble Hill, (718) 875-3677] and Barnes & Noble [267 Seventh Ave. at Sixth Street in Park Slope, (718) 832-9066].