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Many Lives of Miss K, The

Set against the pivotal cultural and political moments of the 20th century, the life of Toto Koopman was a tantalizing blend of glamour, tragedy, and mystery.

Catharina “Toto” Koopman (1908-1991) lived many lives in one. After an idyllic childhood on the island of Java, she set her sights on Europe where, against the backdrop of tumultuous political and cultural change between the wars, she would live her life in the most dramatic of styles.

Jean-Noël Liaut follows this enigmatic subject from Java to Paris, where Toto modeled for Vogue and Chanel and was a fixture of café society; to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where she was imprisoned for espionage; to the vibrant art scene of postwar London, where she helped launch the career of Francis Bacon as “muse” of the Hanover Gallery; and finally to the Aeolian island of Panarea, where she lived out her life with her partner Erica Brausen. Her flouting of convention, free attitude towards sex, and notorious affairs with both men and women (from the actress Talullah Bankhead to both Lord Beaverbrook and his son) shocked high society and drew admirers to her like moths to a flame.

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