Paris in Love seems to be the must read Paris title of 2012. For some reason we Paris fanciers in Australia got to have this rather awful cover, instead of the more stylish cover available elsewhere.
Eloisa James has written a nice, jaunty memoir about living in Paris for a year. A dream that I'm sure many of us share. Written in little snippets, filled with often small observations of Parisian life- how someone is dressed on the street, how they act. The pages just seem to turn themselves.
I love how her wine seller needs to know what she's eating for dinner, how she's planning to cook it and the size of the potatoes that she'll be having before recommending a wine to match. She includes a handful of recipes in the book, her Lemon Barley Chicken Soup sounds quite delicious actually. I loved how she still reads outloud to her 11 year old (as I read to my 11 year old) because she can't bear to think that there may be a last book.
The French walk slowly. They amble down the street, meet friends and spend two minutes kissing, then plant themselves, chatting as if the day were created for this moment.
I loved her passion for the small, lesser-known museums of Paris. There are so many it seems. I described my love for Musee Victor Hugo and Musee Rodin for Paris in July 2011. I have so many more to visit next time already. And now can add even more to the Musee wishlist..... Musee Carnavalet, Musee Jacquemart-Andre and Musee Nissim de Camondo. James likes these museums so much that she's included a short guide to some of them at the back of the book. She also has a guide to some of her favourite food sources- a salmon shop with 10 types of salmon, confisseries, chocolatiers and salons de the. All of these would be worth a visit.
I was somewhat disappointed to learn in the introduction that this is basically her facebook updates from the year. Some had been rejigged or lengthened for the book. Noone wants to publish my facebook updates. Perhaps I'm just jealous. I did enjoy the writing, her writing experience shines through, and her academic background peeks through in the usage of words such as happenstance.
And then there's the whole living in Paris for a year thing. I've only managed to spend three weeks of my life in Paris- so far. Do people really have a life that they can just transport to Paris? Are people really Professors of Shakespeare, and romance writers of note on the side, with a portable husband and children? Sure Eloisa James had some troubles in life before she up and left to spend a year in Paris- her mother died, and she battled breast cancer herself. These are big life-changing events. No doubt about it.
Perhaps lots of my enjoyment of this book came about because I want to live in Paris for a year too. I want to see the seasons change. To see it snow in Paris. To welcome each new season, to buy a bunch of lilly of the valley on May 1st, to buy the first peach of the season. I've been to Paris in May, June and July, and so have seen her early spring blossomed beauty, and felt the heat of her summer. But I long to see her other moods too. The silver skies, to feel the chill of a Parisian winter enter my bones, to see her streets covered in snow. To eat the chevre only produced for Christmas. I certainly dreamed that dream as I read this book, and that's not a bad thing.