- Title: Paris in Love: A Memoir
- Classification: Adult Nonfiction
- Genre: Memoir
- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Random House (April 3, 2012)
- ISBN-10: 1400069564
- ISBN-13: 978-1400069569
Cancer, when it rears its ugly head at you or a loved one, shows no mercy. If you're lucky, you can catch it in time and banish it. It is an indiscriminate killer and it can seemingly strike anyone at random. When a person is faced with this disease they can choose to fight or succumb. Luckily, Ms. James caught her cancer in time and fought and won her battle. Her mother however, was not so lucky. Two weeks before her own diagnosis, Eloisa's mother had lost her battle with cancer and passed away. Cancer makes us face our own mortality head on and makes a person get their priorities straight. How did Ms. James deal with the reality check she was given? Well, after getting an okay from her doctor, she basically ran away from home and to Paris, in an attempt to leave all her worries behind. I wish we all could do this as it seems like a very therapeutic thing to do. To take a sabbatical from our daily lives and fully enjoy it for a while. If you could do such a thing, where would you want to go or do? Think about it. Eloisa James did and then she and her family acted upon it.
So the first thing you might wonder about "Paris in Love" is if it is a book about a woman obsessed with cancer who talks about it and her experience with it? The answer is it definitely is not. It's basically a book about living life and enjoying what you have. It's about looking at the wonder of it all (life) and at finding the humor in it. It's also about family and friends and making the time to appreciate each other.
The book gives you an insight into the daily life of Eloisa James and her family as they attempt to blend in to life in Paris for a year. It gives you a taste of the city itself as well as its people. You get glimpses of places Eloisa traveled to such as Italy, Germany, and London as well. She paints the reader a picture upon her pages with words and humor:
- 'People kiss all the time here: romantically, sadly, sweetly, passionately; in greeting and farewell...I hadn't realized that Anna had noticed until yesterday when I suggested perhaps a single-mother situation in her classroom could be explained by divorce. Anna didn't agree. "They don't get divorced here," she reported. "It's 'cause they kiss so much."'
- 'French chickens come with heads and feet still attached...my butcher cradles the bird like a baby, then waggles its head toward Anna, Turning the bird into a clucking version of Jaws.'
- 'It's raining...The umbrellas look like wildly colorful mushrooms sprouting from the pavement. From down the street, they seem to bloom, low and colorful against the gray buildings.'
-'Venice is like the dream of a sleeping shopaholic--The little, gorgeous footbridges rise into the air and come down into yet other streets of shop windows, shining with gold, velvet, and glass, The streets blend together as if one were wandering in circles, always presented with more to desire, more to buy.'
Eloisa also lets us follow the drama her daughter faces with an arch rival at school. As she puts it, "Every Peter Pan has his Hook, Harry Potter his Malfoy...Anna's nemesis is Domitilla." Plus, we get to follow the lovelorn meanderings of Florent, Alessandro's language exchange partner--Florent attempts to help improve Alessandro's French while Alessandro helps Florent with his Italian. Alessandro, in case you were wondering, is Eloisa's husband who is originally from Italy. Florent's reason for wanting to learn Italian is that he has a crush on a waitress he met in Italy and would like to converse with her. Eloisa gives us her insight on whether French women truly don't get fat and why they always looks so stylish. Additionally, Eloisa created a list of places to see, things to do, and places to go to buy at the back of the book.
Overall, I found this an enjoyable read. I rated it 4 out of 5 roses. I usually don't go for non fiction books, but when you combine Paris and Eloisa James, I just couldn't resist. I found Ms. James' daily observations charming, witty, thoughtful and humorous. I can't help but wonder if perhaps Eloisa's bad hair year might have somehow reflected a bit of what was going on in her own life. She started out not quite herself, but slowly after a year of healing for both the body and soul, while living in Paris enjoying life, she once again resembles her former self. In the introduction Eloisa states, "I never learned to live in the moment, but I did learn that moments could be wasted and the world would continue to spin on its axis." She brings things full circle at the end when she claims, "We learned to waste our moments--together."