Monthly Archives: July 2017

A Paris Year by Janice McLeod

A Paris Year: My Day to Day Adventures in the Most Romantic City in the World by Janice McLeod

St. Martin’s Press, 2017

Source: Library Copy

Challenge: Paris in July

A Paris Year: My Day-to-Day Adventures in the Most Romantic City in the World

The style of A Paris Year is very similar to Paris in Love. Its written in snippets, journal entries, photographs and hand-drawn illustrations by McLeod. This is a great coffee table type of book.

In this book, Macleod shares paintings, thoughts, observations and photographs from a journal she kept. There is something for almost everyday of the year. Each entry has the day’s Saint name (because each day in France has its own Saint’s Day). Each page marks one day of the year, from January to December. It’s a quick and colorful read, full of quotes, asides and traveling tricks for tourists who want to feel like locals. If it was larger in size, I’d call it a coffee table book. I’ve scribbled a few of her quotes into my own journal. I’ve also started writing in my journal again, inspiration from McLeod. Granted, my little city is quite boring compared to Paris. There are still plenty of nooks and avenues to explore in our own worlds. MacLeod brings to life the mundane and background of the world we live in. The little aspects of the street we overlook or just don’t see. It helps to put the phone away when going out for a walk.

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The Portrait by Antoine Laurain

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain

Gallic Books, 2017

Source:

Challenge: Paris in July

The Portrait

I’ve had this novel to my to-read list for months. I’ve adored the author’s previous books (well, I adored The President’s Hat and The Red Notebook the most). I was excited to get my hands on this little novel. To my happy surprise, it popped up in my mailbox last week just in time for the Paris in July challenge I do each year.

I’m still waffling on how I really feel about this book. Going into it, I didn’t realize that this was Laurain’s debut novel. I think I might have tempered my expectations a little bit. Laurain’s writing style has definitely evolved from this first novel. Overall, I didn’t enjoy this story as much as I did The President’s & The Red Notebook. However, there is a thread of the realistic-supernatural setting that’s marked his works. I think if the main character in The Portrait had been fleshed out a little more, this could have been an amazing book. it felt choppy, like it underwent heavy editing of huge portions of the story.

The Portrait is a story about a man consumed with collecting. Pierre-François Chaumont’s marriage is falling apart as his wife insists on relegating his collections to just one small room in the house. Sneaking out to an auction house during lunch one day, he comes upon an 18th century portrait of a man who looks exactly like him. Although he spent a fortune to acquire the portrait, the true cost of the portrait comes from its life-changing fit into Chaumont’s drab life.

Champagne Baby by Laure Dugas

Champagne Baby by Laure Dugas

Publisher: Ballantine Books, 2016

Source: Library Copy

Challenge: Paris in July

Champagne Baby: A Journey in Wine from Paris to New York

This book is half memoir and half beginners guide to wine. I liked both aspects and I think Laure did a great with transitioning from one to another. It’s weird to think that we’re almost the same age and she’s accomplished so much in a short span of time.

She had a whirlwind romance with New York City, although she eventually found her way back home to France. I wish she expanded more on what about the US (or possibly just New York) that she felt drawn to. What were the perks? There were portions that she repeated often, and sometimes it felt like she remembered things too clearly in her favor. Overall, she was very transparent of her filial connections in the wine industry and how that set her started on her career. I appreciated her honesty about how she began her career in the wine trade, and how despite the connection, she still had to put in a lot of time and effort to learn about the intricacies of wine. Although her rant went a little too long, I totally agree with Laure’s sentiments about turkey for Thanksgiving. I load up my Thanksgiving plate with ham. I don’t understand the obsession with turkey, as a centerpiece for a feast or the deli meat version for sandwiches.

Although a reverse from what I normally read (American girl falls head over heels in love with France), it still still an interesting take on what brought a French girl to America and her observations of American life. This isn’t a glamorous memoir; it’s more about wine than about Laure, really. Her easy-going writing style simplified some of the more complex concepts of wine. I especially appreciated her emphasis on not focusing on wine reviews, points or other distractions. Also her emphasis that wine changes from year to year, even from one side of the vineyard to another depending on the terroir (the soil). A lot of our appreciation of wine comes from how it is drunk (with dinner, with friends) not when it stands alone.

Paris in July: ALL THE NEW BOOKS

Maybe on of the best perks of Paris in July (or biggest obstacles?) is that my Goodreads to-read list tends to multiply like rabbits. So many new blogs, so many new-to-me books that get a swift click on my list.

This is my current list of To-Read: France

These are all the new books I’ve added this week since the Paris in July challenge began:

Whispering in French: A Novel The New Paris: The People, Places, and Ideas Fueling a Movement Piglettes

Paris in July Week 1 recap

 

Displaying IMG_5412.JPGI started off the month by baking a a fresh batch of madeleines. The napkin is courtesy of the most adorable little French shop in Capitola in CA if you’re ever in the area. Petite Provence. They host French conversation clubs, and have a beautiful assortment of napkins, tablecloths, bread baskets, dishware, soaps, etc. Everything and and anything you would want. It reminded me of the little shopping booths I would snoop through in Arles.

 

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I even brought my husband into the mix and we enjoyed some wonderful apertifs with Lillet Rouge and making our own Pastis this week.

This week has also graced me with unexpected books set in France to add to my reading list. On Wednesday, I found an unexpected copy of THE PORTRAIT by Antoine Laurain from Meryl Zegarek Public Relations.  (Thank You!!) I came into work on Thursday and found ARCs of Last Christmas in Paris and Whispering in French waiting for me on my desk at the library. #libraryperks

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This month is off to a wonderful start! Not sure where it’ll lead me next.