Title: Paris in Love
Author: Eloisa James
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Random House (Print) / Random House Audio (Audio)
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Travel
Rating: 4 out of 5
In 2009, Eloisa James and her husband moved themselves and their two children to Paris for one year. Eloisa took a sabbatical from her job, and thus she finds the time to engage in ordinary, leisurely pursuits: taking walks, cooking, and eating, just to name a few. This book is James’ chronicle of the magical year her family spent in Paris.
I love travel memoirs, so though I’d never read any of Eloisa James’ other work (she’s quite a prolific romance author), I knew I wanted to read Paris in Love. It’s not a straight, cohesive memoir, as it’s mostly a book of anecdotes and memories, but neither is it a work of essays. It’s just James’ random thoughts and experiences during the one amazing year she and her family spent in Paris.
There’s a lot of stories about James’ family in this book. Her daughter’s troubles fitting in at her new school, her son’s struggles with French; it makes for an incredibly personal narrative. At the same time, though, the book is full of atmosphere and stuffed to the brim with Paris. It’s a great mixture, though armchair travelers should be warned: Though this is a great novel about experiences in a beautiful city, it’s not about Paris itself. It’s about the changes Paris wreaks on the lives of the author and her family.
I chose to consume Paris in Love in audio, and it was a good choice. The different stories came together quite well in the audiobook. Eloisa James herself is the narrator, and I’ll admit I didn’t love her narration in the beginning. She sounded stiff, as if she were reading from the book (of course, any narrator reads from the book, but the great ones make you forget they aren’t just telling you a story). But slowly, as the book progressed, either she relaxed into it or I did, but either way, I didn’t feel that way by the end of the audio production. The book runs almost seven hours and is unabridged.
Whether you’ll enjoy Paris in Love depends on what you’re looking for in a travel memoir. If you want the vivid descriptions of the famous sights, this isn’t necessarily a book that’s going to satisfy you. But if you’re looking for a quieter read about how one family adjusts to life in Paris, the funny stories and crazy arguments, then this is a great choice. Despite being hesitant about the audiobook at first, the anecdotal nature of the book makes it a great choice for consumption in that format.