La Belle Vie-a Year in Paris

Reading Eloisa James’s Paris in Love: A Memoir is much like getting a postcard from your dearest friend as she briefly describes her year long trip to Paris. Or, it may feel a bit like reading interesting snippets of her diary or journal.  James gathered the blog and twitter posts she wrote while abroad as the genesis of her book, and the result is this small but charming volume that packs an unforgettable punch. Her writing meanders through her Paris year winding circuitously around her every day events. Just when you can’t imagine why she’s interrupted her last thought with a seemingly random unrelated statement, she ties them all together in a cohesive bow, leaving the reader waiting for more.

James and her husband both took year long sabbaticals after she recovered from breast cancer surgery and moved their family to Paris. As they settle in, the children are less than thrilled to be in a new country and new school where they do not know the language and have no friends. But, as their year progresses, each family member makes adjustments to their new living situation and the family shares many once in a lifetime moments together.

Visiting  landmarks and museums, shopping at the green grocer, the corner butcher or Parisian stores, attending Mass at a centuries old church, interacting with the homeless and preparing for Christmas in a foreign country are all woven into enchanting prose. The every day mundane encounters with family and friends are retold with such endearing appeal and heart  that I grew attached to the author and her family, including their overweight(make that obese) dog.

C’est dommage that the ending came so soon! My hope is that Ms. James will take another sabbatical in the near future and again write about her adventures bringing along her new best friends — her readers. Qu’est-ce un livre charmante!

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