Eve's Reviews > Paris in Love

Paris in Love by Eloisa James
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's review
Apr 19, 2012

it was amazing

Confession: I have a secret fantasy of running away to live in Paris. So is it any wonder that with spring unfolding, making me restless for an adventure, I devoured Paris in Love: A Memoir by Eloisa James as if it were a gorgeous box of Laduree pastries?

And yes, it is the same Eloisa James, the famous author of romances. If anyone could even imagine selling one's possessions and uprooting one's family to live in Paris for a year, not to mention having the guts to actually do it - I would think it would be someone who earned a living creating romantic visions.

Another confession: I've never read any of James's (aka Mary Bly's) romance novels, but having read her witty, touching, and, above all, exuberant memoir, I am now eager to pick up her fictional works. She has won over a new fan!

Paris in Love begins not with a sunny prologue as one would expect, but an unsentimental and sobering chapter, all the more powerful in its brevity, which explains that James got hit with a double whammy of terrible events in rapid succession: her mother died of cancer and she herself got a diagnosis of breast cancer. Instantly the reader realizes that Paris in Love promises to be a travel memoir grounded in reality; that having survived such a harrowing period, James's and her family's year in Paris is truly a celebration of living life to the fullest.

"I am making only one New Year's resolution this year. I'm ignoring the obvious: my overly tight clothing. Instead I will take my Parisian Christmas with me back to New York City in the fall. My cocottes will remind me that food is meant to be served to others, to be beautiful, to be original (even violet-colored), to be dreamed over. They will remind me that indulgence is not a virtue we should keep for the holiday season alone, and that saving time---when it comes to food---is more sinful than virtuous.

"My Parisian December went a long way to mending a crack in my heart caused by the words 'the biopsy was positive.' To eat as the French do is to celebrate life, even to indulge in it."

Paris in Love reads just like a box of bonbons - bite-sized, one-paragraph snippets of delicious observations that develop into interweaving themes and stories over the course of the book: her husband's coaching of a lovelorn Frenchman, James's blossoming appreciation for food and cooking in this famed grastonomic city while lamenting her increasing weight, their children's misadventures in their Italian language school, and of course all the anecdotes about beautiful, enchanting Paris and Parisiennes. Interspered between the pastiche of their Parisian life are longer, intimate essays - memories of James's mother, her childhood, her marriage, her beloved friend who died of cancer.

I have to say that even more enchanting than Paris herself is Anna, James's Harry Potter-loving, trouble-making, hilarious, and utterly loveable ten-year-old. I laughed pretty much every time James wrote about her antics.

"The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles is gracious, elegant, and jaw-droppingly beautiful. I drifted down the center dreaming that I was a member of the nobless ancienne, my imaginary skirts extending three feet to each side. We all had audio tours; over the elegant sound of a British man informing me about architectural details, I heard Anna talking to her cousin Zoe: 'I dare you to pick your nose in front of that mirror...Go on, I dare you!'"

Upon reflection, Paris in Love is more than a melange of sweets - it is a complex and varied tasting course which ultimately satisfies.
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