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]
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!