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Maria Rodale

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Paris in Love: A Book Review

Posted: 04/ 2/2012 9:06 am

t's a beautiful delight when someone you know and care about writes a memoir, and you get to peek inside her adventure.  One of my favorite romance authors, Eloisa James, just crossed over into nonfiction with her charming memoir of a year spent in Paris with her husband and two kids. The book, Paris in Love, published by Random House, is available on April 3rd, 2012.

Come on, we've all fantasized about it: packing up, leaving the continent and flying off to a new land for a fresh start. So when someone does it, it's cause for observation. As two professors in real life, the couple's tenure actually made it possible for them to escape without ditching everything. And even though the seed of the idea started with a bout of breast cancer, it's not a tale of drama and woe.  As a romance author, James has included plenty of happy endings here, however, it's more a tale of what happens after the romance novel usually ends (with "I do").

The book is told and organized based on a series of Facebook posts and tweets, a format that starts off feeling unusual, but by the end, feels perfect; each bit is like a little poem or dessert unto itself, and kids and one very fat dog play starring roles. It's as much a documentary about how an 11-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy adapt to a new language and a new culture. My favorite story regarding Anna, the 11-year-old, was how, after struggling to learn the language, she went to a day camp for a few days and came home and told her mother, "When I had to speak French, I did...It just burst out of my mouth!" And I must admit that during the part when she lets her Italian husband pick a hotel I felt a strong bit of sympathy and empathy...

One of the reasons I adore Eloisa is that she publicly speaks up about being a romance author, academic, and intelligent real woman. She has broken so many stereotypes--and this book is another one. By peeking inside her life and heart, you can see the stereotypes for what they are, fear-based fiction.

I read this book (an advance copy!) on my way to my 50th birthday trip. Eloisa's and my birthdays are two days apart. I mention this not because I want to reveal her age (She looks fabulous! And don't get fooled by her talk of her weight--she's a twig!). But because as we women get older, perspectives shift, what matters changes, and all the little things that get swept away when you are younger and worrying about the big things take on epic, romantic proportions. This is, after all, a romance--for a city, a life, a family, and love itself.

 
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