27 AUGUST 1948, Page 28

Fair, Fantastic Paris. By Harold Ettlinger. (Paul Elek. 10s. 6d.)

THE principal virtue of Mr. Ettlinger's book is its unpretentiousness. Unlike so many other American journalists who have sought to record their impressions and experiences of France in book form, he makes no pretence of political prescience and claims no intimate connections in the haut monde. His evocation of pre-war Paris is light-hearted, simple and affectionate. He is extraordinarily well acquainted with that most graceful of cities, which he likens to a woman who always knows how to dress—" dazzlingly elegant when rich and soberly tasteful when poor." And he has a genuine under- standing and affection for its people, particularly the "little people" —from the scavenger at the Porte d'Italie to the tart in the Place Pigalle, from the waiter who looked like Paul Reynaud to the quick- tempered warm-hearted Italian peasant, Rosalie, whose little restaurant was reserved for the impecunious and who did not think a meal should be allowed to cost more than ten francs. Unfortu- nately, many of Mr. Ettlinger's would-be humorous anecdotes about Parisian life and character tend to fall rather fiat. Others are only mildly amusing. His style is quite without distinction, and in affecting an air of gentle irony he merely succeeds in being facetious. And he might usefully have given more care to his spelling of French. Gauguin is practically unrecognisable without his second " u," and surely a French brothel never had more than one "1."