Paris in Love by Eloisa James, a book review
I’ve read a lot of bizarre books lately. Not their content necessarily, but the way they were written. First I read Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty, which was written in what I call the “you” perspective. There was no “I” or “she.” Everything was “you walk down a street and find a store selling gum.” It was a little hard to get used to, but really put you in the character’s shoes, and reminded me of a Choose Your Own Adventure book, except there were no pages to skip ahead to.
Paris in Love was another twist on storytelling, but this was a travel memoir pulled from Facebook updates the author had written while abroad for a year with her family. Most of us would not want our Facebook posts to be pulled together into a book, but Eloisa James is no ordinary person. She is a Shakespeare professor at Fordham University in NYC and a best-selling historical romance novelist. And yes, I have read her romance novels.
I was skeptical about this format at first, but James and her editor have woven together a beautiful story about a sabbatical year she and her husband took with their children. Through carefully curated and organized Facebook posts I saw how her days progressed and what she was drawn to (designer fashion and small museums), as well as how her children adjusted to the change (international school and learning French). Personal essays were added at the beginning of each chapter to fill in the blanks and paint a broader picture.
The book format made it easy to read a page or two without getting lost. These little snippets brought me back to my own short visit to Paris, where I got just a taste of what life must have been like for her over 365 days. One hilarious side story that weaves through the book is the family dog, who now lives with James’ mother-in-law in Florence, Italy. The dog is obese, which is saying it in the kindest way possible. Over and over again the family tries to get grandma to put the pup on a diet but to no avail. She is convinced it is just idiot veterinarians who don’t know how much the dog needs to be coddled and he would wither away without his daily ration of prosciutto.
I wish I had found this book before we went to Paris last spring. It is filled with little tips on where to eat and shop, plus which museums are worth a look, if only for an hour or two. James may be back to her normal life in NYC, but I have a feeling her next sabbatical may bring her to another location with equally good material for her next travel memoir. Here’s hoping!
Publisher’s Synopsis: 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. This memoir chronicles her joyful year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. 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’s raised eyebrow in the kitchen (even as she 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.
Title: Paris in Love
Author: Eloisa James Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition
Publication Date: March 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 248 pages
For ages: 16+
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