Paris, 7 A.M.
by Liza Wieland
Simon & Schuster. 333 pages, $26.99
PARIS, 7 A.M. is a quietly striking novel that imagines poet Elizabeth Bishop’s first trip to Europe in 1937. Having just graduated from Vassar College and still developing her talent, Elizabeth travels to France with three college friends. Staying in the Paris apartment of a friend’s mother’s acquaintance, she finds a city anxious about Germany’s actions. She befriends a worker at the German Embassy, suffers a terrible car accident that leaves a friend horribly injured, and performs a secret undertaking that she will never talk or write about to anyone.
Weiland takes her inspiration from the fact that, as she quotes from Brett C. Miller’s Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It (1993), “Elizabeth’s journal breaks off” upon entering Paris in June 1937, “and the three women’s specific activities for the first three weeks in Paris are unknown.”