5 o'Clock Tea with Anne Barone

A tranquil spot, a cup of tea, a book, and something to nibble. Afternoon tea is my favorite time of day. Please join me for Thé de 5 Heures.

Print and audiobook editions of My Grandfather's Gallery by Anne Sinclair, and Buddha's Peak TeaA Grandfather's Gallery Tea

thé du jour / today’s tea

Buddha Peak Ceylon. Peet’s described this tea as having a “bright, malty flavor.” One usually associates “malty” with Assam teas, and anyway, I would describe the taste more as citrus with a touch of bitter chocolate. Definitely a good afternoon tea. Nice with milk. The last I checked Peet’s no longer offers Buddha Peak Ceylon. That is okay with me because I enjoyed it, but it did not become a favorite. Besides it was an expensive tea to brew: it took almost 2 teaspoons for one cup water to produce any acceptable taste. But the tea was organic. And I thought Buddha Peak was a neat name for a tea.

le casse-croûte / the snack

Madeleines. Because Anne Sinclair's grandfather Paul Rosenberg’s Paris gallery was known for its elegant interior as well as for its incomparable modern art, the elegant sponge cake-like French cookies made in shell-shaped molds seems the proper pastry for this tea.

la musique / the music

Igor Stravinsky's Violin Concerto in D Major. This concerto was composed in 1931, about the time much of the modern art Paul Rosenberg represented by such artists as Picasso, Braque and Matisse was being created.

à lire / to read

My Grandfather’s Gallery: A Family Memoir of Art and War by Anne Sinclair.

First I must tell you that the titles are misleading. In the original French, the book is 21, rue La Boétie, the address of Anne Sinclair’s grandfather Paul Rosenberg’s art gallery that the Nazi’s took over when he fled France in 1940. In English translation the book is My Grandfather’s Gallery. You will actually learn only the basic facts about either of the two Paul Rosenberg Paris galleries — or the one in New York.

The subtitle of the English translation: A Family Memoir of Art and War gives a better idea of the book’s material. Though a sub-subtitle Anne Sinclair might have added would be: Why I respect my mother’s family more now that I have taken the time to learn more about them.

But the book is also Anne Sinclair’s own exploration to answer the question of her Frenchness — and that of her mother’s Rosenberg family.

What hooked me on this book was that it begins with the French government’s questioning of Anne Sinclair’s own claim to French nationality.

When I was researching Chic & Slim Toujours: aging beautifully like those chic French women, I spent an afternoon, lunch to teatime, debating whether Anne Sinclair would be included as one of the chic French women of certain age featured in the book. At first glance she seemed a natural choice. But after reading articles Anne Sinclair had written and reading articles written about the successful television journalist, I decided against including her in the book. This, despite that she had once been chosen Marianne, that ultimate symbol of France — and was at that point likely the next first lady of France.

Why not include Anne Sinclair in Toujours? Because she just did not — in attitude, behavior and even personal style — seem very French. And having read her family memoir, my opinion has not changed. She still does not seem to be "very French." But Anne Sinclair is an intelligent and fascinating woman. Her book is extemely well-written. And I think we would have been much happier to have her as French first lady and been spared the Trierweiler episode.

But given my debate on including her in Toujours, you can imagine how intrigued I was when I was reading the introduction to My Grandfather’s Gallery and found the French government questioned Anne Sinclair’s right to French nationality — and a little further in the book find that, as Anne Sinclair began to search through family papers to provide the documentation the French government required, she herself began to question just how French she was. At that particular point, the question was important because of Anne Sinclair’s ambitions that her husband Dominique Strauss-Kahn would be the Socialist candidate for president in the next French elections.

Anne Sinclair was actually born in New York City, USA, a fact that annoys her. For this non-French birth, she seems to blame DeGaulle, or at least the post-war French government, that her father had to take a job in New York because there was nothing immediately suitable in France. And thus it was in the USA that her parents were residing when she came into the world in July 1948. And where Anne Sinclair lived until age 3 when the family relocated to Paris.

It is especially interesting to read this book knowing that the research for the book was done prior to the time that Anne Sinclair’s then husband Dominique Strauss-Kahn received much media attention when charged with the sexual attack on a maid in a New York City hotel in May 2011. Anne Sinclair tells us that she was writing the book during the time from mid-May until early July when she and her husband were barricaded in an expensive New York apartment until he was granted permission to leave the USA.

As I read the book, I was aware that at the time Anne Sinclair was writing, she apparently still believed that, despite the hotel incident, that her husband might win the French presidency. In writing about her grandfather, she is defending the idea that even the wealthy (which Anne Sinclair definitely is) can make good Socialists, the political party to which she and her husband belonged.

In fact, after I “read” (actually listened to the audiobook) My Grandfather’s Gallery, I found it interesting to construct a timeline beginning with Anne Sinclair’s marriage to DSK in November 1991 and continuing through the May 2011 New York hotel incident, their return to France in early July 2011, the 7 March 2012 publication of 21, rue La Boétie, the August 2012 separation of Anne Sinclair and her husband and their divorce in March 2013. The interweaving of Anne Sinclair’s family’s story as recounted in the book and her own life while researching and writing the book that we know from the media gave me an extra dimension of interest in the book.

As for the audiobook version, many times I felt that emotions that reader Kate Reading expressed in certain phrases might not be those that Anne Sinclair would have placed had she herself recorded the audiobook version. Surely it would have been a better audiobook had Anne Sinclair done the reading. Given her years in television journalism, she would surely have done an excellent job. And who better than the author knows where emotional emphasis is properly placed? But it is understandable given the turmoil in her life around the time of publication of the book that an outside reader recorded the audiobook version.

A good portion of My Grandfather’s Gallery deals with the confiscation of Paul Rosenberg’s gallery’s art and her grandfather’s struggle to regain possession of that art following the war. Just after I finished the book, I noted in the media that the German government had finally returned a Matisse “Femme Assise” to the Rosenberg heirs of which granddaughter Anne Sinclair is one.

A Gallery Tea part 2

image: My Grandfather's Galley back cover print version, front cover audiobook and Buddha Peak Ceylon cannister and tea


Other 5 o'Clock Teas with Anne Barone

A Woman in Black Tea

A Margaret's Hope Tea

A Cotterstock Hall Tea

A French Tea