Just two weeks after her mother died of cancer, Elosia James was herself diagnosed with cancer. Although her cancer was treatable and not life threatening, James took her illness and surgery as a wake-up call to get more out of life. Rather than take a spiritual path, James decided she wanted to live in Paris.
Fortunately, both she and her husband were eligible for a sabbatical year from their university professorships, which made the adventure possible. To make the plan more affordable, they sold their house and cars and got rid of a lot of their possessions. After renting an apartment via the Internet, they set off, with their kids, to France.
Paris in Love is classified as a memoir, but it's really more like a combination of personal journal and travel writing. Despite the word cancer, James did not write an inspirational memoir, although it might inspire you to travel someplace wonderful. Instead James shares small observations about the sights and sounds of Paris interspersed with longer stories of the family's daily life and discoveries.
Although it took the children some time to adjust to so much newness--school, city, country, home--Eloisa and Alessandro seem to have readily soaked up the Parisian life. By the time you finish reading Paris in Love, you too will want to move to the City of Lights. In the embedded video, James shares some quotes from her memoir. Here are some others that caught my eye:
Around seven o'clock, the autumn light turns clear and bluish, the color of skim milk. All the waiters lean on the doors of their restaurants smoking, waiting for customers. (p. 45)Not every day is wonderful, and James freely writes about the negatives. In the end, though, it's her short, yet beautifully expressed, observations of life in Paris that will linger with readers.
The French walk slowly. They amble down the street, meet friends and spend two minutes kissing, then plant themselves, chatting as if the day were created for this moment. My husband and I walk like New Yorkers: fast, dodging obstacles, glancing at windows, going places. It's taken a few months . . . but I now keep thinking: Where am I going that's so urgent, when all these French people don't agree? (p. 51)
Parisian life is small and quiet. I pack the children off to school and then think greedily about how many hours I have before they come home. I have come to the conclusion that silence and time are the most precious commodities. (pp. 123-124)
Published by Random House 2012
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