René and Josette
René and Josette
Through a series of sixty-two letters dating from 1924 to 1942 from René Blum to Josette France, this chapter narrates the story of their love affair. It describes how Josette, an actress, became involved with Blum and soon was the focus of his emotional life. Their relationship grew and flourished until she became pregnant and would not, or could not, marry Blum. The chapter cites their age difference, twenty-two years, as possibly contributing to their problems, as René’s tone with and advice to Josette seem very paternalistic. Always helping her with her career and with financial support, he also wanted to be the model parent to their son. The chapter shows how Blum’s constant traveling and business worries also detracted from the attention Josette believed she needed. It recounts the many difficult-to-treat illnesses that their little boy Claude-René, or Minochou, suffered. One of the letters Blum wrote was his last will and testament; it indicated that most everything he possessed should go eventually to his son, with allowances for Josette and her mother, Madame Marsoulam, who essentially cared for the boy. His last letter, written in the camp at Compiègne just before he was transported to Auschwitz, went to Josette: it thanked her for a gift ham, and asked her to contact certain individuals who might be able to provide financial assistance for their son and maybe one day help him to see Claude-René again.
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