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.
With no classes to teach, no committee meetings to attend, no lawn to mow or cars to park, Eloisa revels in the ordinary pleasures of life - discovering corner museums that tourists overlook, chronicling Frenchwomen's sartorial triumphs, walking from one end of Paris to another. She copes with her Italian husband's notions of quality time; her two hilarious children, ages eleven and fifteen, as they navigate schools - not to mention puberty - in a foreign language; and her mother-in-law Marina's raised eyebrow in the kitchen (even as Marina overfeeds Milo, the family dog).
Paris in Love invites the reader into the life of a most enchanting family, framed by la ville de l'amour.
"Starred Review. While the children struggled then triumphed in school and with new friends, the dog grew fatter, and Alessandro advised his French conversation partner in affairs of the heart, James discovered a 'materialist's playground' in Paris, finding just that precious objet or museum or nibble, and relaying in her sensible, reflective prose the lessons to take home and dream over." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. Not just for Francophiles or even James's legion of fans, this delectable confection, which includes recipes, is more than a visit to a glorious city: it is also a tour of a family, a marriage, and a love that has no borders. Très magnifique!" - Library Journal
"What a beautiful and delightful tasting menu of a book: the kids, the plump little dog, the Italian husband. Reading this memoir was like wandering through a Parisian patisserie in a dream. I absolutely loved it." - Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
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Rated of 5
Nancy E. (Whitehouse Station, NJ)
Not What I Expected
I must have enjoyed Peter Mayle's books about Provence too much, as I was expecting this would be about Paris in a similar way. It is not. I enjoyed the first few pages of the book but as it went on it became very boring. The little snippets of information became annoying to read, and there was too much about the author's children and was of little interest to me, although I can understand a mother's desire to write about her children.
Rated of 5
Paris Deserves Better
A book written about Paris deserves more than tweets and facebook updates with the occasional essay thrown in. Eliosa James had some lovely descriptions of her experience in Paris but the format for the book was unsatisfying. It was hard to feel connected to her as she jumped from what she saw from her apartment window, to the exploits of her daughter in school, and then to a cooking experience or shopping trip. The part I liked the most were the essays. Read those and skip the rest.
Rated of 5
Dolena W. (Garland, TX)
Do not eat while reading this book! You will choke!
Yes, you will choke with laughter. I have read lots of wonderful fiction by Eloisa James, but her skill at non-fiction is even better. This book is hilarious. It consists of snippets of events that occurred during a year in Paris. Reading each snippet is like repeatedly picking up small pieces of candy and every time you get something different but delicious. Deliciously funny in this case. I found myself laughing out loud at James's wit, at her ability to find and see the humor in the smallest of interactions with her family, especially her children, and with Paris itself. This is a book I will read and enjoy again, and it is a book I will give only to my best friends, those who value and thrive on laughter.
Rated of 5
Rita K. (Bannockburn, IL)
Paris in love once again
When I requested First Impressions to review this book, I didn't know what to expect. I've been to Paris several times and thought it would be fun to see how Eloisa James and her family see the famous city. Her descriptions of the the food that was served in the out of the way restaurants almost made you taste it. Her children's school experiences were what you could image how they must feel. I would highly recommend this book.
Rated of 5
Ellen N. (Camano Island, WA)
Falling in love with Paris in Love
I began my advance copy of Paris in Love with great anticipation—looking forward to the author’s discovery of my own favorite Parisian bookstores and literary haunts, expecting a slightly more feminine version of Adam Gopnik’s charming Paris to the Moon. But my high hopes foundered when confronted with Eloisa James’ off-putting and fragmented blog-like format, and I put the book away.
Several weeks later with jaw-clenched determination, I began again only to learn that persistence does have its rewards. As I grew comfortable with the James’ posts, the once fragmented pieces began to take shape in the context of the whole, like photographs that tell a complete story when seen in an album, and I began falling in love with Paris in Love.
This is the strength of Paris in Love: the portraits that emerge from its pages. The homeless man who lives with his dog at the Metro stop; the love-sick Frenchman learning the art of courtship from James’ Italian-American husband; the author’s children, indomitable and dramatic Anna and the latent scholar, Luca, who must find their way in an unwelcoming new school; the Italian mother-in-law who dotes on her obese Chihuahua; and best of all the cancer-surviving, romance-writing author who delights in French food and cooking, is wise in her parenting, and rediscovers how to love herself from a Parisian fondness for frilly lingerie.
While I do not share Eloisa James’ interest in haut couture and would have preferred she spent more time in bookstores and less in fashion houses, Paris in Love has found a permanent home in my bookcase next to Gopnik’s more erudite memoir.
Rated of 5
Lora O. (Antioch, CA)
Unsatisfying look at Paris.
I was very disappointed in the book which turned out to be a series of blogs about the year the author spent in Paris with her husband and two children. The author does write well, the descriptions are colorful and she has a sense of humor, but there is no connecting narrative.
Reading it was like reading a facebook description of a vacation. The book does contains a handful of narrative chapters that are much more interesting and show more thought than the blog entries. There is one chapter about the death of a friend I found quite moving. The author writes a lot about her children, ages 15 and 11, and while some of those relate to attending school in a foreign country, most would be the reactions of teenagers anywhere.
I found these blog entries to be very superficial, the writer doesn't seem to be interested in understanding the country she's living in or it's people. Even after a year, she can't communicate fluently in the language. Throughout the book, her major concern seems to be food, fashion and her "bad hair year".
I read every book I can find on living and traveling in Paris - and this is the most unsatisfying. I could not recommend this book and probably would not read anything else by this author, especially since I learned she writes romance novels.
Mary Bly (aka Eloisa James) is currently a full professor and co-director of the creative writing program at Fordham. She is the the author of the novels Midnight Pleasures and Enchanting Pleasures. She and her family now live in New York City. Paris in Love is her first work of nonfiction. Visit her online at www.eloisajames.com.
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