Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Nook - Paris in Love: A Memoir

Paris in Love: A Memoir, written by Eloisa James:

One day, I found myself puttering around online, looking at books about Paris.  A few popped up in my search that promised to disclose the "true" Paris.  But I decided I didn't want to read anything negative about my adopted homeland.  I wanted to read all about the beauty, romance, culture, and cuisine that is Paris, in my mind.  So after reading the dreamy description of Paris in Love, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the book.  Take that, realists!

Eloisa James is a 40-something Shakespeare professor (by day) & romance novelist (by night).  When she found out that she had cancer, she decided that she and her family needed a change in their lives - a big change.  She and her Italian husband, Alessandro, and their two kids, Luca & Anna, sold their New Jersey house & cars and moved to an apartment in the heart of Paris.

In the introduction, the author explains that the book is basically her facebook postings from the year they lived in Paris, collected and polished into book form.  But the book really does read like a bunch of facebook postings, making this the perfect beach or poolside read: little snippets of story that you can pick up or set down at the drop of a hat.  Many "entries" are merely a few sentences.  But they all portray a Paris that is refined and delicious, like an exquisite French pastry.

There are lots of observations on the way the Parisian sky looks outside the author's study; many entries about the kids and their new schools; many instances of people watching.  Our author likes to go department store shopping a great deal, so you'll tag along to shop for cocottes, lingerie and umbrellas.  She also likes going out to eat, so you'll hear all about some of Paris' finer, and not so fine, dining experiences.  There are also some trips to smaller museums, which would be very helpful to read about if you are planning a trip to Paris in the near future (actually, at the end of the book, the author lists some of her favorite places in Paris, restaurants, museums, etc).

There are also lots of "entries" about the people in James' life - Luca's struggles with high school math, a kind which he is convinced they don't teach in the United States.  There's Anna's disobedience in her classes, as well as drama with her archrival, Domitilla.  Alessandro is brushing up on his French with a Parisian named Florent, who is first madly in love with an Italian waitress, then a French colleague.

The benefit to the book's format is that it's a quick, fun read.  The disadvantage here is that it felt a little harder to connect with the author and those in her life.  It really does feel like a little snippet of Paris here and there, which personally, I'll take a little snippet over no snippet any day.  It's like a box of chocolates from a Parisian artisan chocolatier.....each little entry is like a bon bon - a fun little escape, a bit trivial at times, but delicious all the same.


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