We’ll be heading to Paris and the Loire Valley later this summer for our annual pilgrimage to visit relatives. The time is always too short to fit in all the adventures I’d like, so I start dreaming of Paris long before packing with some beautiful memoirs and novels. Some I’m re-reading for the umpteenth time, jumping straight to favorite chapters, and others I’m discovering for the first time, seeing Paris through new eyes.
Adam Gopnick is a New Yorker writer who made a lifelong dream come true by uprooting his wife and son and transplanting them to live in Paris for a year. The resulting book is hilarious, honest, and just a delightful read, regardless of whether he’s discussing the differences between French and American sports or his foiled plan to escape that dreadful purple dinosaur, Barney.
This memoir of Julia Child’s time in France was written at the end of her life, in partnership with her great nephew. After years of talking about the project, she finally agreed to tell him the full story so that he could share it with the world. The resulting memoir is a love story, not only with her beloved husband Paul, but with La Belle France in general. I love this book because it paints so vividly the awakening of a woman as she discovers her true purpose in life and embraces her passion. The best part of it all is that she was forty when she arrived in Paris, a housewife brought along with her husband’s luggage. Even she had no idea that she would soon revolutionize cooking in America.
I reviewed Elizabeth Bard’s appetizing memoir of falling in love with a Frenchman and making Paris her home. Each chapter features a recipe, French comfort food that you’ll whip up easily and return to over and over again. I love her descriptions of the markets and how she so perfectly captures the cultural differences between the French and Americans.
The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
David Lebovitz had a number of popular cookbooks out before he published this memoir of his life in France. The book is not only filled with delicious recipes, but it’s also funny and honest. I loved how he described finally feeling like a Frenchman when he found himself dressing to take out the garbage. His observations about dinner parties and tossing fish with the fishmongers really give a good feel for Parisians.
This is the next book on my reading list, the story of how the most iconic building in Paris came to be. I can’t wait to read about how Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and Thomas Edison came together under the Eiffel Tower in 1889 for the World’s Fair.
There’s still plenty of time for me to build my Paris library, both before and after my trip. So, tell me, what books set you dreaming of France?