I love to read! I pretty much have a book (or my e-Reader) with me all the time. But, there are few things that go together as well as a relaxing on the beach and a good read. The summer of 2015 just ended on Wednesday (September 23) with the Autumnal Equinox.
I also love traveling and all things Paris. I’m a Francophile at heart. Looking back on my summer reads, I’m seeing a theme. The Summer of the Paris reads.
I started out the Summer with “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano. With Mireille, life is about quality – not quantity. She recommends fresh foods, real chocolate, eat slow and enjoy.
The French tend to shop daily for the food that they will prepare that evening. They also have a relationship with the farmers and the local markets who actually know their fruits and vegetables.
In addition to the good food preparation and health tips, I got a renewed sense of “joie de vivre”! Mireille’s suggestions are very reasonable, fun to implement, and encompass more than just food advice, but broader ideas about how to take good care and teach your children good eating habits. I also found the recipes to be super-easy, tasty and fun.
Next was “Paris, My Sweet” by Amy Thomas. I picked up this gem while I was visiting a friend San Francisco area in April (but hadn’t gotten to it). We were in Barnes & Nobel looking for an Adult Coloring book that my friend has and I really liked. We didn’t find the coloring book, but I spied this book and immediately picked it up and bought it.
Paris, My Sweet is a memoir of a time in Amy’s life where she finds herself torn between two cities, Paris and New York. While working in New York and enjoying a fun social life, she is given the opportunity go to Paris and write ad copy for Louis Vuitton on the Champs-Élysées.. Thomas decides to go for it and shares all of the experiences she has there, the good and the bad. We get to read about what Parisians are really like and we get wonderful descriptions of the amazing food Thomas enjoyed while in Paris.
First I have to say that the descriptions of the food Thomas enjoyed in Paris are some of the best I have ever read. The pages of this book are crammed full of bakeries and other foodie places in both Paris and New York. She makes a lot of recommendations for those who plan to travel to either location (I’m taking my nephew to Paris next year after he graduates from high school, and I plan to have this book with us).
Do not read this on an empty stomach, or if you’re on a diet. Some of her descriptions sure made this gluten-free girl quite sad that I could not have any.
Thomas spends a lot of time writing (complaining … a lot). She complains about being single – how all of her friends are getting married and having kids. She complains about Paris, her job, how tight her jeans have become, her lack of French skills and friends, and how she misses New York. But when she goes back to visit New York (for her friend’s wedding, she complains about missing Paris.
I understand that it’s hard uprooting your life and moving to a foreign city, but filling her memoir with complaints didn’t make much sense to me. She spent a lot of the book sporting the “the grass is always greener on the other side” mentality. I got tired of it and would just skim those pages and then get back to the food descriptions. She was definitely into food like food solved all of her problems. I wish she’d expressed more of her happiness in other areas of life.
Also, I enjoyed taking a look at the author’s two blogs Sweet Freak© and God, I love Paris where she posts photos of her food (which I love) and her travels (which I also love). Also, by the newest entries, it looks like she got married and has a daughter named Parker.
Next was A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable. I just happened to be in Barnes & Noble and saw this book on one of the tables. Picked it up and stood there and read the first couple of pages. I was captivated.
A Paris Apartment winds between past and present and two women – April April Vogt, a Sotheby’s furniture specialist and Marthe de Florian a Belle Epoque beauty and demimondaine – — which was a unique class of fashionable woman supported by one or more wealthy male patrons.
The book is based on a true story that came to light in 2010 about a 9th-arrondissement apartment had been sealed for seven decades. Abandoned in 1942 on the eve of the Nazi occupation and frozen in time, Marthe de Florian’s apartment overflowed with treasures from the Belle Epoque era including a painting by Giovanni Boldini.
There are also letters and journals written by Marthe, the woman in the painting. April is so intrigued that she must the story behind this charismatic woman.
I must admit that I was very sad when this book ended. I wanted to know more, more, more about Marthe.
My last Paris read (at least for this summer) was recommended in one of the Facebook groups I belong to called French Kiss Life. The book is called The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell
It was a portrait of two women and, of course, Paris. The book time-hops between Genevieve’s life now, and when she visited Paris in 1997 just after her mother died, and her mother Angela’s life in the early 80’s.
It has intrigue, mystery, adventure and a look into the past and how it affects the future. The mystery of locks, abandon mansions and Paris underground tunnels will keep you interested.
I also loved the secondary characters. They portrayed to me the different types of people who live in Paris. There was Sylvie the French baker who was pushed into a life she wasn’t sure she wanted, but was stuck due to it being a family business. Catherine, her cousin, who makes her living as a dream interpreter (I did feel sorry for her when she tells her cousin, “It’s terrible being the only child of two parents who are in love” — I gues she felt neglected). Then there was Phillipe, the old man who was friends with Genevieve’s uncle and knew the history of her family. Killian, the young man who lived across the street, kept Genevieve grounded. When she got frustrated, lost, or just needed a touch of real life Killian was there for her.
This is my first book from Juliet Blackwell (apparently, she writes mysteries about witchcraft) and I look forward to reading more from her.
Well there you have it. These were not the only books I read this summer, but they were my Paris reads.
Do you love reading about Paris? If so, any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments.