Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Non-Fiction Review: Paris in Love

 In 2009, New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James took a leap that many people dream about: she sold her house, took a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor, and moved her family to Paris. Paris in Love: A Memoir chronicles her joyful year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Paris in Love
James, Eloisa (2012). [Genre: Memoir]
I've always really enjoyed memoirs about living in France, and even more so since I spent almost a year all up there myself. Paris in Love, by the romance author Eloisa James, has therefore been on my to-read pile pretty much since the day it was released. I wish it hadn't taken me so long, because I'm in love with this book.

There are certain books that when you are reading them, it feels like they are giving you a hug. Paris in Love is one of those books. Told through short essays and even shorter 'snippets' (expanded upon in many cases from Facebook and Twitter status updates) documents a year in the life of James and her family (Italian husband Alessandro, and teen/preteen children Luca and Anna) after they relocate temporarily to Paris. The year long sabbatical from real life in New York is a reactionary shift after James has a bout with breast cancer.

James is refreshingly honest about Parisian life, which I loved. It's the first French memoir I've read where the author has admitted that restaurants in France aren't all astoundingly wonderful (and that some, contrary to expectation, can really be quite bad). James is honest about arguments with her husband, her struggles with her weight, and her tendency towards the finer things in life. It's refreshing and her honesty can be touchingly poignant - such as when she discusses the death of a friend back in New York.

James writing is gorgeous, with beautiful descriptions that make you feel like you are in the moment with her. The sheer touchingness of it was a surprise to me, as I didn't enjoy her writing anywhere near as much in the one novel of hers I have read. I guess here she simply hit a different stride - not totally surprising given she writes in several different genres and has a totally separate academic writing career. It was the descriptions of James children in Paris in Love that hit me the most. They often made me laugh out loud, especially anecdotes concerning the precocious Anna, and the affection and pride James has in her children - while retaining a much needed motherly sense of humour - was beautiful to read.

Overall, Paris in Love struck a chord in my heart, more than perhaps any other book this year. It's personal, poignant and has a unique style in both presentation and writing. Pick it up if you get the chance. 5 out of 5 stars. 

Paris in Love is another book ticked off my 2014 TBR challenge. 

This month I'm joining in with Paris in July, a blog event hosted by Thyme for Tea (and others!). Expect some more French themed posts coming up soon! 



  1. Sounds like a lovely book on Paris life. I agree with her about eating in France. We all have this fantastic idea on how well we will eat there. I have been to Paris only once, many years ago, but visited France several times, since we are living rather close. However, I have not yet had a fantastic meal in France. Sorry to say. I think, probably like in all places, you have to know where to go to find the good food.
    Lisbeth @ The Content Reader

    1. I totally agree on that one as well. I've eaten good meals in France, but just as many mediocre and bad ones!

  2. I loved, loved this book when I read it too Sarah. It included such lovely snippets of what I imagine Parisian life to be but it also came across as realistic and approachable too. So glad you are joining in Paris in July with us!

  3. Yet another wonderful Parisian memoir to add my growing list. This one sounds fabulous!