martha's Reviews > Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes

Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard
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's review
Dec 07, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: 2010, nonfiction, france
Read in December, 2010

I enjoyed this more than I expected to: I'm very picky about both contemporary memoirs and books about France, so I was pleasantly surprised not to end up hating this.

The good:
- Lots of details (about both the city and food), which is what I crave from any good travelogue.
- The recipes: I'm going to make the apricot yogurt cake and the lentil soup as soon as I have a chance, and if I hadn't had to return the book to the library, there'd be more on my list.
- The perspective on France: I love many things French, but I'm also very aware it's not a perfect country, and she strikes a good balance here: enthusiastic about lots of things, but unflinchingly honest about the not-so-great aspects. (The stuff about her father-in-law's medical care just KILLED me. And the stuff about attitudes toward entrepreneurship was really interesting.) Such a relief to find something that strikes a balance between "Everything French is better than everything American!" and "All French people suck!"

The bad:
- I have issues with contemporary memoirs. My issues go like this: Don't write about sex, your mom is going to read this! Don't write about your mother being annoying, your mom is going to read this AND MAYBE CRY! Also you had that conversation six years ago, so I know you're making it up, not remembering it verbatim, which is just distracting.
- I knew from other reviews there'd be some dithering about her directionlessness in life, so I tried to brace myself to not be annoyed by it, but I lost it when she started wondering whether it would be so bad to just spend her life unemployed and lounging around Paris forever. Um, YES IT WOULD. Please get your life together, and also own the fact that you're actually really really privileged. ... ahem.
- Pursuant to that, it was kind of tiresome to have the culmination of her Search for Direction be the (seen-coming-a-mile-away) idea to write this very book. So.... what now that that's done, hm?

But don't let my cons dissuade you if you think you'd be into it: overall I think it's one of the more enjoyable reads on contemporary Paris out there. Plus you can always get a good recipe out of it.
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Reading Progress

12/07/2010 page 151
48.0% "Enjoying this more than expected."

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