Liza Wieland presents Paris, 7 A.M.

It is June 1937, and Elizabeth Bishop—a few years out of college and with no husband and no career—heads to Paris with her roommate, in search of escape and inspiration. Readers are swept up in Elizabeth’s journey as she attempts to overcome writer’s block and find her footing in the Parisian literary scene, while the threats of fascism and occupation loom. We meet Elizabeth’s closest confidantes: her vivacious roommate, the paper heiress Louise Crane; the enigmatic Countess Clara Longworth de Chambrun, from whom the girls rent a fashionable apartment near the Luxembourg Gardens; and the sensible yet seductive Sigrid, who works at the German embassy in Paris and seems to know something about the impending war that Elizabeth cannot yet imagine. As Elizabeth forges new bonds and builds a community to bolster her during this transformative period, her world simultaneously starts to crumble with Europe’s descent into war. When Elizabeth finds herself involved in the Countess’ mission to rescue Jewish infants in Normandy and transport them to Paris, the reality of war is thrust upon her and she realizes that she must return home (wherever that may be, as the speaker in her poem “Questions of Travel” wonders).

Liza Wieland narrowly missed the opportunity to study with Elizabeth Bishop, who died in 1979. When Wieland set foot on the Harvard campus as an undergraduate in 1978, Bishop had just retired from her teaching position there. But Bishop’s ghost was everywhere. She lingered in the offices and classrooms she had occupied, was brought to life in the stories of her former students and colleagues. That Wieland never had the chance to develop her own writing under the guidance of Bishop is perhaps why she has been chasing her ever since.

For fans of Bishop, it is a delight to spend time with the young poet during these tumultuous, exciting early years. However, it is not essential to know Bishop’s poetry to fall in love with this elegant and captivating novel because at its heart, Paris, 7 A.M. is a coming-of-age story of friendship, sexuality, and rebellion, set against the devastating backdrop of World War II. And if you are not familiar with Liza Wieland, it is a pleasure to introduce you.

Liza Wieland is an American novelist, short story writer, and poet who has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, and the North Carolina Arts Council. She is the 2017 winner of the Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Her novel A Watch of Nightingales won the 2008 Michigan Literary Fiction Award, and her most recent novel, Land of Enchantment, was a longlist finalist for the 2016 Chautauqua Prize. She lives near Oriental, North Carolina, and teaches at East Carolina University.

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Paris, 7 A.M. Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501197215
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - June 11th, 2019