A small mystery solved
By ADRIAN TAHOURDIN
Early in 1993 the TLS published a French special issue with a cover image by Robert Doisneau of an unidentified young woman sitting on one of the Parisian quais within sight of Notre Dame Cathedral, probably at work on her first novel. How very French we thought, although one colleague did point out that he would have found it irritating to have someone typing away near him in a public space.
The identity of the young typist can be revealed. She is Emma Smith, whose memoir As Green as Grass (Bloomsbury) has just reached the TLS offices. The photo appears inside as well as on the cover and is captioned “Summer in Paris, working on The Far Cry and keeping cool by the Seine during a heatwave, 1948”. The TLS, I’m happy to say, reviewed The Far Cry in 1949, together with two other novels, including one by Marghanita Laski: “Miss Emma Smith writes, in contrast to Miss Laski’s almost masculine style, on a note of feminine sensibility, happily leavened by a sense of the ridiculous which occasionally becomes humour . . . ; her first novel marks a definite advance in her career, and if the influence of Miss Elizabeth Bowen sometimes becomes perceptible, The Far Cry is none the worse for it”. The novel went on to win the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
Think of Doisneau’s famous photo of the young lovers outside the Hôtel de Ville in Paris: the young woman in that one was revealed to be English too. A curious double for the photographer.
Emma Smith’s memoir will be reviewed in the TLS in due course.