Paris Was Ours: 32 Writers Reflect on the City of Light – Penelope Rowland
Thirty-two authors reflect on a special memory or time spent in Paris in this wonderful collection about the City of Light. Each story is about 2-5 pages and tells the story of love, childhood, innocence, growth, education, immigration, racism, sexism, feminism, patriotism, etc. The topics are endless. The writers are either born in France, or were born elsewhere and moved to France for a set amount of time in their lives.
I’m not exactly sure if I requested this book, or if Algonquin just read my mind and sent me this book on their own. Since I am going to Paris for my honeymoon this Spring, this book was absolutely perfect for me. It was a great way to get myself mentally prepared for the trip and to be more aware of the French nuances that often trip up tourists and result in angry diatribes or get American’s ignored by the French. From these stories, I know that I should at least try to speak French before reverting to English. I should expect a slower paced lifestyle, I should always wear a scarf, expect the Metro to always be late, to never discuss money or politics in any social setting, and to speak quietly in restaurants. There is much more to the book than that. Each author has a love, or love-hate relationship with Paris. They may have hated living there, but they missed in indefinitely once they moved away. It seems like Paris is the city that haunts you and your haunts after you leave its city borders.
As is the case with any collection of essays by a variety of authors, some stories were more poignant than others, and others seemed to drag on. Regardless, this collection is a perfect bag-book for train commutes, or while waiting in long lines at the store. I spent almost all of February reading this book, taking my time to ingest and fully comprehend the Paris laid out for me by each author. Many opinions overlapped, many diverged and together I got a well-rounded idea of Paris as a home, not just Paris as a tourist-location.
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It seems I have an obsession with reading books set in France. Here’s a collection of titles I’ve reviewed that are set in various regions of France.
- Petite Anglaise – Catherine Sanderson
- The Gospel According to Coco Chanel – Karen Karbo
- French Women Don’t Get Fat – Mireille Guiliano
- My Life in France – Julia Child
- Hungry Woman in Paris – Josefina Lopez
- When You Are Engulfed in Flames – David Sedaris
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick
Book 8 in 2011
By Penelope Rowlands
Algonquin Books, 2011 ISBN 9781565129535 276 pages Sent for review by publisher