Move to Paris…..learn French….write a book. Who hasn’t had that dream someday. Even if we can’t go there ourselves, we can still read about other people’s trips in the delightful little book, A Paris All Your Own. My Good-reads review below.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is an engaging little book of essays about Paris by women writers who have been there, mostly to research their Paris-based books, and like the title says, each one has their own story, some good, some bad, but all are different. I appreciated the honesty of those who said they didn’t enjoy Paris all that much, as it has always been a dream destination of mine and now I don’t feel quite so bad about what I am missing. Expectations are best kept realistic to avoid disappointment…but can anything ever live up to the romantic promise of Paris? I particularly enjoyed the biographies at the end of each section, as I picked up some new authors and books to explore, and their advice on what to see and what to skip will be valuable if I ever do get there some day.
While I was familiar with some of the authors in this book, for example Paula McLean of The Paris Wife, (a novel about Hadley Hemingway), there are some new ones I can add to my to-read list. I appreciated their candor – while most enjoyed their trips, one went home two weeks early, one had children who were bored, one’s mother-daughter trip didn’t quite turn out as planned, another just wanted to be left alone to write and declined all invitations to socialize in her writer’s residence. I could sympathize with that, when you are in the flow you hate interruptions even if the distraction is Paris! (If Hemingway had done more writing and less socializing he might have kept his first wife). One writer mentioned that April is not the best month to visit Paris. It rains a lot, she said, May is better, but the chestnut trees are out in April and then there is that song.
I cannot travel at the moment, and my French is abysmal. Although Canada is a bilingual country, (we have two official languages so everything is written in both), the reality is most people outside of the province of Quebec do not speak it, and Quebecois french is different than Paris french. My french is limited to the back of the cereal box. My education consisted of twenty minutes of french twice a week in grades 7 & 8, mostly concerning the Leduc family – Madame and Monsieur LeDuc and their enfant terrible, Henri. I recall they were always scolding their chien, so I would know to be careful when walking in the streets, (non chien scooping laws). They seemed to eat plenty of gateau, so I could probably navigate my way around a confectionaire/pâtisserie too. My accent was horrible so I abandoned la LeDuc famille in high school as soon as I could. Today if you want your child to learn french you send them to a french immersion ecole, a much more sensible method.
While I have no dreams of being Hemingway, I would like to visit Shakespeare & Company as bookstores are my thing, and that stationary store (Melodies Graphiques) mentioned in the book sounds divine too, a whole store devoted to paper and pens and different colored inks. Some day I hope to visit Paris, and see all the famous paintings, eat bread, take a boat trip along the Seine and visit Monet’s garden. One of the things about my mother’s late-in-life art career is she is too old to travel and see all the art museums. You should do your traveling when you are young and poor like Hemingway. (Quote: “There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.”) Then later you can write your memoirs and become rich and famous, if you are very lucky.
We can’t all be as famous as Hemingway but we can all write a little something, a blog or a journal or a book, (and we don’t have to move to Paris to do it). I am sure there were times when Hemingway wondered if what he was writing would ever be of interest to anyone, but it is helpful to remember that there is always someone out there reading. And even if that person is only yourself, you are documenting your life, in the same manner as Janice MacLeod did while in Paris (see Part Two next week).
One of the nice things about blogging is you can find a blog about anything that interests you anywhere in the world. In my Word-press travels I have discovered two wonderful blogs on Paris and France.
https://adventuresofananglaise.com/ an English ex-pat’s blog on her adventures in Paris (for armchair travelers to the City of Lights)
https://chomeusewithachou.wordpress.com/ unemployed with a cabbage/tot – tales of family life in France (Jane Austen is reincarnated and living in rural France)
Au revoir mon cheris….until next week….Part Deux
Song of the Day: Andrea Bocelli – La Vie en Rose
Quote of the Day: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” (Ernest Hemingway – A Moveable Feast)