Breathless: An American Girl in Paris

Breathless: An American Girl In Paris

In the early 1960s, most middle-class American women in their twenties were preparing for marriage, children, and life in the suburbs.

Breathless is the story of a girl who represents those who rebelled against conventional expectations. Paris was a magnet for those eager to resist domesticity, and Nancy K. Miller was enamored of everything French. After graduating from Barnard College in 1961, Miller set out for a year in Paris, with a plan to take classes at the Sorbonne and live out a great romantic life inspired by the movies.

After a string of sexual misadventures, she gave up her short-lived freedom and married an American expatriate who promised her a lifetime of three-star meals and five-star hotels. But her husband turned out to be a con man whose promises were lies, and she had to leave Paris behind. In an era of Vietnam anti-war protests, student unrest, and sexual liberation, Miller returned to New York to become a new woman: autonomous and creative at a time when women were only expected to look pretty and smile.

Miller’s memoir chronicles a young woman’s coming-of-age tale, and offers a glimpse into the intimate lives of girls before feminism.

Surprising, daring, funny, wise, and profound.
—Elaine Showalter, author of
A Jury of Her Peers