Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Release: Paris Was Ours

After the complexity of my last read, I decided that I wanted to pick up something that was the polar opposite and so I chose Paris Was Ours: Thirty-Two Writers Reflect on the City of Light, a non-fiction collection of essays gathered by Penelope Rowlands. These are essays from writers young and old, male and female, gay and straight, students and professionals, mothers and daughters.

I enjoyed some of the essays more than others but I think that it took all of them as a group to present the picture of Paris that they did. From the experiences of Americans, French expats, Iranians, Cubans and Brits, a universal vision of Paris from the point of view of a visitor is gathered -- one of love, loneliness, awe and fear. After reading this collection, I am now familiar with café culture, Parisian fashion, expensive but tiny maid's rooms, French parenting methods and architecture.

My favorite essay was from Zoé Valdés, a Cuban diplomat's wife and author who had to reconcile her upbringing and indoctrination in the communist nation with the beauty, freedom and consumerism that she experienced in Paris. I also really enjoyed the piece by Roxane Farmanfarmaian about her experience of being basically locked out of Iran while staying in Paris. Each unique point of view in this book is surprisingly similar and one can only finish this book in awe of those who choose to relocate to the City of Light.

Craving a fresh baguette and some chocolate,

Support our site and buy Paris Was Ours on Amazon or find it at your local library. We received a copy from the publisher for review.


  1. Sounds like a book I'd really like to read. Adding it to the wishlist!

  2. I think all major cities should have a book like this.

  3. I'm so mad at myself that I didn't get it together to visit Paris when I was in England for a year. It was right across the Channel, the Louvre and everything! Repatriating there would scare the hell out of me, but a visit would be nice. :)

  4. Tracy - I'm glad I could bring it to your attention!

    Jenners - Agreed. I liked the non-romantic perspective with a bit of practical knowledge. It makes the city seem more real and less like a mythical place that I could never get up the nerve to visit.

    Jenny - I would have probably missed it too. I'm just like that. But I definitely plan to visit someday! Z is turning 7 this year so I think we might be ready to start travelling with him soon.