If you have ever tasted French macaroons you will not forget their delicate form and taste. They seems so unsubstantial, light, fluffy, little nothingIf 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.
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, arWhat 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"....more
I loved L'Auberge. This is your typical sweet, heart warming, well written, laugh out loud fiction. Nothing wrong with that on the contrary, it providI loved L'Auberge. This is your typical sweet, heart warming, well written, laugh out loud fiction. Nothing wrong with that on the contrary, it provides a few hours of laughter and entertainment. And having encountered French bureaucracy, I dare say it does capture the funny side of the French. All of the characters are lovable or funny, even the villains. As for French cooking there is a part where someone mentions a great French chef Jamio Le Vert whose food is the best. Well, guess what, it turns out that it is... Jamie Oliver.
According to her website, Julia Stagg does live in France, does or did run a restaurant there and clearly speaks from her experience. On her website she has advertised a talk entitled From Reality to Fiction: How Life in France Turned into a Novel. The talk will be accompanied by apéritifs and lunch. I wish I could attend.
And I am absolutely looking forward to the sequel, the second of the Fogas Chronicles The Parisian's Return that is scheduled to be published in spring 2012....more
This is a great book. So well researched and lived too! Wouldn't it be great if we could share the best parts of our cultures and learn from one anothThis is a great book. So well researched and lived too! Wouldn't it be great if we could share the best parts of our cultures and learn from one another. This is what the author attempts to do. She listens, observes, compares, learns and adapts in the best possible way, preserving the good parts of her culture while absorbing the best parts from her new adopted world.