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Paris in Love: A Memoir by Eloisa James

Paris in Love: A Memoir (edition 2012)

by Eloisa James

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4375224,058 (3.8)21
Title:Paris in Love: A Memoir
Authors:Eloisa James
Info:Random House (2012), Hardcover, 272 pages
Collections:Your library

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Paris in Love by Eloisa James (Author)



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Eloisa James's mother died from cancer and 2 weeks later was diagnosed with cancer herself. In her own words, as a cancer survivor she expected to have an epiphany where she would learn to approach life with zen-like calmness, do yoga at sunset, and quit wasting time at her computer. The epiphany didn't happen. Instead, the author and her husband took a sabbatical year (both are professors), sold their home and cars and moved with their less-than-thrilled two children to Paris for a year.

This sounds like it could be a grim cancer survival book, but instead it’s warm, touching, funny, and wise. I loved everything about this memoir, especially the way the book is structured as short vignettes based on her tweets and facebook posts, plus several longer essays. It sounds annoying but it works, mainly due to Eloisa James’s skill as an author. I felt fully immersed in her life in Paris, and fell in love with her family: her adorable Harry Potter-loving daughter, Anna, her typical teenage son, Luca, her Italian husband, Alessandro, and of course, Milo, the obese Chihuahua.

Many times I found myself laughing out loud. The author herself is very down-to-earth and many stories will have you laughing in recognition of common emotions and experiences, although, of course, hers takes place in the most romantic city on Earth. The vignettes form a complete picture of living a year in Paris: the good, the bad, and the ugly (ok, so there's not much ugly). And it will make you want to pack your bags. I’ve been to Paris once but if there's a next time I will go with the author’s list of recommendations in the back of the book.

This can easily be read in short bursts but I recommend devouring it quickly! And then maybe reading it again, slowly. I borrowed my copy from the library but I will likely purchase it as a keeper.
( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
One of my favorite cities in the world is Paris, France. I made a number of trips there and always found it to be most enchanting. When I came across a slim memoir, Paris in Love by Eloisa James, I could not resist despite the fact it is obviously directed at women. The parts of the story involving women’s issues and shopping for haute couture, were sometimes funny, but the parts about food, cooking, and visiting art galleries and museums brought back many fond memories. Eloise James is the pen name of Mary Bly, a tenured professor of English Literature at Fordham University. She writes best-selling Regency romance novels under her pen name.

Eloise lost her mother to Cancer, and two years later, she received a diagnosis of the same disease. She went through courses of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, and following an optimistic appraisal by her oncologist, she decided to take a sabbatical move her husband, Alessandro, son, Luca, and daughter, Anna to Paris for a year. The memoir is set up in an interesting way. She begins most chapters with short essays – which grow longer as the story progresses – followed by brief nuggets detailing their adventures.

One of the things I admire in the French is their tolerance for dogs in all aspects of society. Here is one of those nuggets. James Writes, “Last night we trotted out to our local Thai ‘gastronomique’ restaurant which means it’s a trifle more fancy than average and serves mango cocktails. A man and his son came in, trailed by a very old, lame golden retriever. The dog felt like lying down, legs straight out, in the middle of the aisle running down the restaurant – on a Friday night. The waiter and all customers patiently stepped over and around him, over and over and over…Bravo, France!” (34).

Many of these nuggets involve the close attention to detail so necessary to a writer. She writes, “Alessandro and I followed an exquisite pair of legs out of the Métro today. They were clad in flowery black lace stockings and dark red pumps. Their owner wore a coat with five buttons closing the back flap, and gloves that matched her pumps precisely. We walked briskly up the steps, and I turned around to see the front of the coat, only to find that the lady in question was at least seventy. She was both dignified and très chic. Old age, à la parisienne!” (49). At the end of the memoir, Eloisa comes to appreciate the way French women dress and act. In fact, I think I might have seen that women several times in several places.

Another subject Eloisa attends to is literature. It moves her as much as it moves me. She writes, “Alessandro came in to check on me at one point, sympathetic about my cold but very disapproving when he realized my pile of soggy tissues was the result of tears rather than a virus. ‘I never cry when I read,’ he pointed out, with perfect truth. His nighttime reading, a biography of Catherine the Great, seemed unlikely tp generate tears, even from one susceptible to sentimentality as I. His book didn’t seem like much fun, especially after I inquired about the one thing I knew about Catherine – to wit, her purported erotic encounters with equines – and he informed me that the empress was a misunderstood feminist whose sexual inventory, while copious, was nevertheless conservative. Nothing to cry about there” (61).

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Eloisa James’ memoir, Paris in Love. I especially liked the handy list of restaurants and museums she visited. I plan on taking this book along on my next trip to the city of lights. 5 stars

--Jim, 7/14/16 ( )
  rmckeown | Aug 5, 2016 |
If I never wanted to go to Paris before I do now. Ms. James writing reads like a travel log with short quick views of her and her families adventure in Paris. She has just went through a battle with cancer and has a fresh view on life she shares with her readers. She has run a away from it all to Paris. Her, her Italian husband two kids and a dog. It is reality with a wonderful sense of humor. the ugly, the beautiful and the wondrous are all shown in her memoirs.

I found it a quick delightful read and enjoyed every minute. ( )
  TheYodamom | Jan 29, 2016 |
This title consists of the author's blog posts while living in Paris. While this can work for some it is just too fractured for me.
  mlorio | Aug 27, 2015 |
66 of 75 for 2015. As a rule, I pick up just about every book I find that is even remotely about Paris. It is no secret that Paris is my second favorite city in the world, and in many ways feels like a second home to me. When I find a book about an American living in Paris, walking through this eminently walkable city, I have to read that book and relive my own adventures in the City of Light. Eloisa James' memoir about a sabbatical year spent with her family in Paris is just such a book, and a true delight. Throw into the mix that Ms. James' husband is an Italian academic with family in Italy, and their two children are attending an Italian language school in Paris, and the possibilities for humor (and love) increase dramatically. James, an accomplished author and academic, takes on the challenge of living as an ex-pat (well, for one year) with style and grace, and this book is the result. If you, like me, love Paris and can't get enough of that city, you owe it to yourself to read Eloisa James' memoir. I give it my highest recommendation. ( )
  mtbearded1 | Aug 23, 2015 |
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James chronicles her joyful year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world--Paris--all the while inviting her reader into the life of her most enchanting family.

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