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Paris in Love: A Memoir    by Eloisa James order for
Paris in Love
by Eloisa James
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2013 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Paris in Love: A Memoir, Eloisa James shares her highly entertaining musings - on everyday life, family dynamics and surroundings - of the time in 2009 when the bestselling author took a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor and moved with her family (husband Alessandro, eleven-year-old Anna and fifteen-year-old Luca) to Paris.

In an Author's Note at the beginning, she tells us that 'The sad truth is that we didn't come home French, or even Frenchified. But we did come home changed ... Paris taught me something about the art of living that I had heedlessly thrown away.' Though I read this delightful book in one gulp, it's one that's very easy to take in over time as it's filled with delicious vignettes of memory that can be sampled slowly, savoring both the author's humor and casual wisdom.

Chapter titles range from Chastised by Dior (on the elegance of Frenchwomen of un certain age) to In Church with Scrooge (an older man intolerant of a crying baby) and On French Women, and Whether They Get Fat (they do too but they dress thin). Observations on the obesity of Milo, the family Chihuauhua (then living with the author's mother-in-law in Italy) are hilarious.

Readers who have raised teenagers will find much that's familiar in comments such as one on the difficulty of having a meaningful exchange with a teen boy. And all parents will be amused by James' suggestion to visit the French catacombs: 'In 1741, a man wandered off, and his body wasn't found for nine years. Let's take the children this afternoon.'

Early in this memoir, the author tells us, 'I never did learn how to live in the moment, but I did learn that moments could be wasted and the world would continue to spin on its axis' - a good life lesson for us all, and this memoir is a rare treat. So indulge!

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