Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Brief Review of Miranda Seymour's Bugatti Queen











Hi folks -- Bugatti Queen is one of the best casual reads that I have experienced during the past few years. It goes to show you that a non-auto history specialist can weave together a compelling story that is far more engaging than most of the literature on auto racing or auto history currently out there. Once I opened the book there was no putting it down.

Miranda Seymour's Bugatti Queen: In Search of A French Racing Legend (New York: Random House, 2004) centers on the life and times of Helle Nice (1900-1984). A postmaster's daughter, born with the name Helene Delangle, she lived a checkered life at best -- dancer, automobile racer of the first rank, racing accident victim, accused Gestapo informer, and obscure old woman owning a Simca and living on charity. But what a character! I will leave it to you to pick up this book and won't spoil the story by giving you details. That said, a fascinating, sexy woman whose life reflected the best and worst of her milieu. With one summer and fall in the U.S. in 1930, Seymour's account of that experience fills an interesting gap in a social and cultural history on a broader topic that remains to be written.

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