The unforgettable Paulette Noble


I met Paulette at a rooftop party in Boston when she was a senior at Brandeis. She had used reparation money to tool around in a crimson sports coupe and, as I recall, she took me on as a passenger to visit the Rhode Island shore.

Over the many decades since that first encounter (she was wearing a pleated white skirt, as I recall), she has somehow stayed in touch and sent me chapters from her career as a writer.

She has produced columns about pets, anecdotes about celebrities, accounts of her major battle with Scientology, and now, an autobiography.

No, I was not a major figure in her life story, there’s no mention of me in her memoir, but we never forgot each other.

She visited me with her husband, Paul Noble, when we were staying in Palm Beach, Florida, and she sends me her books, which range from researching to remembering. Her current publication is titled, whimsically, “The Perils of Paulette” and it is a fabulous collection!

Paulette is a Holocaust survivor who, along with a sister, was placed in an orphanage in Belgium. Paulette was adopted, without her sister, by a family in New York. She was reunited with her sibling much later in her life.

Now, as a “critic,” I must confess that I was shocked! – even appalled! – by the frankness of her accounts. I’m a bit of a prim 19th-century fellow when it comes to confessions. I don’t go in for blunt, direct language or too much action and excitement. I prefer a rather prim approach.

But Paulette tells all, and she writes with brilliance, courage, humor and a wild honesty about each and every adventure of her most unusual life – and I stretched my usual taste to accommodate her daring and her artistry.

Paulette has a touch of something I will label “vanity,” which was evident by her including a number of flattering self-portraits, photographs of her charming, mischievous smile and her youthful blonde good looks, that belie the rough language of her adventures and misadventures.

I guess my favorite short piece from the book is her sketch of how she desired to lose her virginity with a nice, shy, “cute” boy named Eddie. But it doesn’t work out and he ends up as a priest!

That miniature tale has a touch of subtle irony, but many other confessions close quite differently, I give you fair warning. No emotion is lacking or missing among the fascinating chapters of this abundant adventure in living and writing. I honestly recommend it for those shocking virtues of inclusivity.

I hope to meet Paulette Noble again somehow, somewhere, sometime. I think I missed out on much of her when we were young; I saw only her superficial qualities. But now that she has found her happiness, as have I, perhaps we could come up with a conversation about the challenges of a career in the arts that can mix autobiography and entertainment and bring out the best of both of us.

MIKE FINK ( teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design.