What can I say about Paris? I loved it. I was there once and absolutely love it. It is one of those cities so beautiful and so packed with history, ar...moreWhat can I say about Paris? I loved it. I was there once and absolutely love it. It is one of those cities so beautiful and so packed with history, art, culture, not to mention FOOD. Having visited Paris and France I finally understood why UNESCO declared French cuisine 'world intangible heritage’.
This book offers vignettes of Paris as experienced by and written about in both fiction and personal memoirs of many writers, such as: Gertrude Stein, Colette, Hans Christian Andersen, Marcel Proust, Julio Cortazar, George Orwell, Simone de Beauvoir, Honore de Balzac, Julian Barnes, Georges Perec, Irene Nemirovsky to name just a few. A lot more are represented in this book. The book is divided into nine chapters: "I love Paris"; "Le menu"; "Sex in the city"; "High hopes...and hard times"; "Location, location..."; "Parisians - famous and not so famous"; "Cities of the dead"; "Past tense"; "Living it up".
Being of Polish background I was amused to find out the origins of French croissant, apparently it came to France via Austria and Poland. It was the Austrian croissant that was hurriedly made at the siege of Vienna in 1683 by the Polish soldiers of king Sobieski to replace the bread that was missing and they called it the crescent the emblem of the Turks who they were fighting. (p.27)
It is a wonderful, impressive and very eclectic selection that mixes fiction with diaries etc. Take it with you or your next visit to Paris. You can start reading from anywhere and you can keep coming back to it. You will be delighted to find the voices of some of the great authors. It could be your complementary reading to the last Woody Allen's film "Midnight in Paris".(less)
I especially liked the language of the narration. I love the first half of the book, where everything was still anticipation. As the story unfolded it...moreI especially liked the language of the narration. I love the first half of the book, where everything was still anticipation. As the story unfolded it lost some of its magic for me. However I was surprised at the end of the story by the Polish connection. I wonder where the author got the inspiration for the final scenes in the countryside in Poland and sculptures featured in the book. I'd be very interested in finding out more about that aspect. Also I was delighted to learn about the Polish soprano Marcella Sembrich who was quite known internationally. Went ahead and listened to some of the recordings on you tube. Oh the wonders of the internet. There was and is a great jazz scene in Poland and the music of Louis Armstrong has many many fans, perhaps that made the author to situate some action there. What a great adventure this book must have been for Esi Edugyan.(less)
If you have ever tasted French macaroons you will not forget their delicate form and taste. They seems so unsubstantial, light, fluffy, little nothing...moreIf you have ever tasted French macaroons you will not forget their delicate form and taste. They seems so unsubstantial, light, fluffy, little nothings, yet tremendous amount of precise and careful work goes into them. It's not a desert you can whip up on a whim. To me Zelda, The Queen of Paris is such a delightful and tasty read comparable to a beautiful macaroon. It's a slight and easy read, that reads in one sitting, fluffy and light on the surface, yet it came about out of a very specific state of mind and life that followed. In essence Paul Chutkow has written an ode to a beautifully lived life in which love, joy and care have been indispensable, required ingredients.
Zelda, a street dog, became part of the author's family when he worked in assignment in India. Against the advice of almost everybody, the author chose to give the little dog some medical care and eventually adopted her and took her with him when the family moved from India to Paris and later to California.
The skeptical taxi driver who became a friend, while observing the author's dilema, expressed it very well saying: "Life, Sahib, it is a great mystery. All we can do is follow our heart".
Reading about the adventures involving Zelda is very amusing and entertaining thanks to Chutkow's unassuming writing style full of humour and thanks to his attitude to life which can only be described as open minded and mindful. I also loved the drawings by J.C. Suares, whimsical and a little nostalgic, they reminded me of the books read in childhood, the ones that are so endearing to read and loved by adults as well as children.
The author's joie de vivre is contagious, so if you love dogs and are looking for something to lift your spirits, reach for this little book.