Zoé Robert turned 89 the other day, still casting spells over all of us.
Zoé Madelyne Girardbille Robert has lived in Neuchâtel all her life. She grew up in an apartment just a block from where she has lived since she was married to Dr. Raoul Robert in 1949.
Zoé has also seen the world. In 1946, when she was just 19, she was the first Swiss citizen to get a visa for England after the war. She attended a boarding school in Leicester, where she learned English.
She already spoke Italian from her childhood summers with her aunt and uncle in the southern Swiss town of Mendrisio. When Zoé was 85 she published her first book, a memoir, La Vie d'une Femme du XX Siècle. Here you read of her marriage to the hard-working family doctor, of raising three children (including my future wife), of travels far and wide, first with Raoul, then, after his death, in later years with her beloved companion, Jean-Pierre. Two more books have followed, one of historical sketches, and a novella of a young British nurse and her lover, a pilot, during WWII.
It's no coincidence that there's a line of Swiss cosmetics called "Zoé." They're named after our Zoé. She entered a contest to name a new product line, recommending her own name, which means "Life" in Greek. Life, our Zoé, absolutely.