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The Frosell Affair
UNMATCHED INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE IN A MASTERFULLY WRITTEN WORLD WAR II THRILLER. Oscar Frosell, wealthy Swedish businessman, philanthropist, and family man, survived the Nazi occupation of Paris and, like many of his countrymen, was looking forward to being a part of France’s postwar future. But in the rapacious, score-settling chaos of the new French State, Frosell’s fortune—rare art, priceless jewels, antique furniture, gold, platinum, a valuable stamp collection, and especially his opulent Paris apartment—worth over $40 billion today, was an irresistible temptation for some thieves. A conspiracy to steal Frosell’s treasures was hatched by naval hero Admiral Dumesnil, the admiral’s daughter (a high-ranking commandante and friend of Charles de Gaulle), and the Swedish general consul, lauded as “the man who saved Paris.” The conspirators launched a nightmarish defamation campaign against Frosell, which not only denied his Swedish nationality, but also denounced him as a Nazi collaborator and Gestapo agent. Frosell then fought for years against relentless persecution and intimidation, fabricated charges and trumped-up testimonies, five counts of false imprisonment, near-execution and escape from the notorious Oermigen concentration camp, and the illegal, state-sanctioned confiscation of everything he and his family owned—authorized by General Charles de Gaulle himself. The Frosell Affair is the unforgettable story of one man’s fight for justice and restitution.
Frosell da Ponte (The Glamour Years of Flying as a Stewardess) serves up an intriguing “dramatization of the true story” of her family’s experience after the 1944 Allied victory in Europe, drawn from her father’s unpublished writings. In her third-person telling, her father, Oscar Frosell, an affluent Swedish national living in France, is labeled a Nazi collaborator by corrupt members of the Resistance, who are after his fortune, when the Allies liberate Paris. After he is stripped of his home, tortured, and imprisoned, Oscar enters a lengthy legal battle with the French Republic, and his quest for justice puts him at odds with some of the most lauded figures in history. Meanwhile, his obsession with restitution isolates and forever alters his daughter Heddy.

The story is at its most successful when exploring Heddy’s loss of innocence as she comes of age during a period of intense turmoil. She is precocious and observant, and glimpsing a father’s predicament through the eyes of a child is noteworthy. While the dehumanizing treatment Oscar faces will deeply affect readers, the pursuit of wealth-based reparations can feel cold in the context of such widespread suffering.

This bold narrative is remarkably different from typical novels and novelizations of World War II. The bureaucratic villains are respected real-life political figures (Charles de Gaulle, Raoul Nordling), and, rather than focusing on the cruelty of the Nazis, the horrors of the Holocaust, or the war itself, Frosell da Ponte explores how greed and self-preservation can corrupt anyone. Though the historical accuracy of the story is largely unknown (the records of this affair are not readily available), this provocative work illuminates an atypical battle against oppression and intimidation.

Takeaway: This challenging, original historical dramatization is perfect for those interested in moral grey areas and corrupt bureaucracy.

Great for fans of: Amor Towles’s A Gentleman in Moscow, John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: A-