Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Review -- Paris in Love

Paris in Love: A Memoir
By Eloisa James
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: April 3, 2012

In 2009, Eloisa James sold her house, took a sabbatical from her daytime job as a Shakespearean professor, and moved to Paris, France with her husband and two children. While there, she chronicled her days and nights with smart, savvy snippets on Facebook and allowed her fans to experience the journey with her. She eventually gathered them all together, added some poignant essays to go along with them, and thus, Paris in Love was born.

It’s been a very long time since I read a memoir and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I appreciate and admire Eloisa James for giving us a small glimpse into her life. Despite her personal struggles leading up to her year in Paris, she remained strong for her husband and children. She didn’t give up and that is a testament to the wonderful person she is. If I hadn’t already met her, this book alone would convince me of that.

I adore this book for many reasons, but two stand out. One was her descriptions of Paris, a city I’ve never visited, but want to after reading this book. Through her imagery, I could see the vivid colors and landmarks throughout the city; I could smell the fresh bread and delicious foods; and I could hear the melodious sounds.

It’s night, after a day of rain...the windows are open and the strains of a glorious opera pour from the conservatory down the street.

Very early in the morning, the only light comes from tightly closed bakeries. Chairs are upside down on top of tables, but the smell of baking bread feels like a welcome.

Paris (and our apartment) is so dark and quiet this morning that I feel as if I’m entirely alone. The sky is the color of gray flannel, the darkness broken only by the dormer window of another early riser. The woman who lives in the attic painted her walls yellow, and reflected light bounces out like a spring crocus. If light were sound, her window would be playing a concerto.

One of my favorite quotes in the book is when Eloisa is speaking about desires: It’s nice that life is long enough to give you desires of many kinds. Indeed, how nice it is.

The other reason I adore this book is Eloisa’s interactions with her children. As a mother, I was particularly drawn to that. She didn’t sugarcoat anything—she spoke about their difficulties along with their triumphs. And it’s obvious how much she loves them and is proud of them.

I loved this entry. It hit close to home and reminded me of my daughter.

Anna in the bath, arguing over her bedtime. “Why,” she wants to know, “can Luca stay up until ten o’clock and I can’t?” “Because he’s fifteen,” say I, “and when he was eleven, he had to go to bed at eight o’clock, too.” “How do you know?” she demands. “Because I’m the mother of both of you!” “You might not be,” she points out. “You might be only a mother in disguise.”

And this one makes me wonder if I will experience this with my son:

I always thought boys’ reluctance to speak about their feelings was programmed by culture (nurture, not nature) and raised Luca accordingly. But lately he only grunts when asked questions about his emotions. “I can talk about my feelings,” he said today, when pinned down. “But” (with unmistakable revulsion) “not with my mom.” I do hope whomever he’s sharing all those feelings with appreciates the training I put in.

And one last entry, because the Harry Potter fan in me couldn’t not include this one:

Yesterday Anna burst into tears at bedtime, saying she had no friends, no one laughed at her jokes, and that she was failing school (her report cars indicates otherwise). I pulled out a Gryffindor key chain I had been saving for just such an emergency, and she cheered up while telling me why she was definitely a Gryffindor and not a Slytherin.

Me, too, Anna. Me, too. *g* These entries and so many more made for an extremely pleasant reading experience. Eloisa had me laughing, crying, and sighing, repeatedly. I just enjoyed it so very much. I found myself reading sections to my husband and he smiled and enjoyed them as well. Paris in Love is an absolute treat and should not be missed!



  1. What a lovely review Andrea! :) I've been looking forward to Paris in Love for a long time, so glad it's finally here! :) (Now if only Amazon would hurry up and get it to me. ::Sigh::) I'm also excited because Eloisa is doing tons of events for the book, and I can't wait to see her next week.

    I hope you get to go to Paris someday Andrea, it really is a special place.

    1. Thanks, Lisa! You will love this book. I'm sure it will touch your heart as it did mine. :) As for going there, maybe one of these days!

  2. Great review, Andrea! I loved Paris in Love. I read it in print, but I bought the Kindle version so that I can dip into it to reread favorite sections anytime.

    1. Thank you, Janga! I have a very good feeling that this is one of the few books I will reread. It's just that good! :)

  3. Love this review! I will definitely have to check it out! :)

  4. Great review, Andrea! You hit on some of my favorite parts of this book. I loved it the first time I read it and loved it even more the second. In fact, I loved it so much that I've ordered two extra copies to share with family!

  5. PJ, Glad to see someone else shares with their husband. I caught some of Eloisa's post while she was in Paris, but not all of them.. I loved the ones pertaining to her children. This book is on my Wish List and will make for hours of enjoyable reading (and sharing).
    Thanks for the review.

    1. Thanks, librarypat! I hope you enjoy it. :)

  6. I do love Eloisa James. PARIS IN LOVE caught my attention a little while ago. I can't wait to read more.

  7. Thank you for the wonderful review of "Paris in Love," Andrea. You truly captured the tone of the book and the joy one experiences in reading it.

    I joined Facebook when I learned that she was posting from Paris. This book helped me relive all those wonderful posts and the FB friends I found through them. I am a long time fan of Eloisa's writing and have been lucky enough to meet her on several occasions. Also, I had the good fortune of receiving an ARC of "Paris in Love" from her several weeks ago! It is everything you say and more so I join you in recommending it to TRD readers.

    Andrea, I hope you get your trip to Paris; there is no place like it in the world! I have bee there one time and really would like to experience it again. I have a BA in French from UCLA and have always been a Francophile: execpt when I have disagreed with their politics!

    1. Thanks, Flora! I'm glad you feel the same about it. :) My aunt and cousin have been to Paris (and other parts of France) several times and they LOVE it. Of course, it helps that my cousin speaks fluent French. He is an amazing young man!

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed Paris In Love! Eloisa made me feel like I was right there with her and her family. I remember when she posted on Facebook each day when they were living in Paris---I lived for those little vignettes. :-)