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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful light reading
An Eloisa James book is one of the very few must-buy romances for me, yet I wasn't sure if I would like this nonfiction about her year in Paris. I shouldn't even have hesitated.

The book is a collection of essays (developed from her Facebook postings and tweets) and give a vivid, colorful depiction of daily life in Paris. You can believe that she chose each...
Published on March 22, 2012 by mickey71

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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Petite observations about life in Paris
After a bout with cancer, romance novelist Eloisa James took a sabbatical from her university job as a Shakespeare scholar and moved to Paris with her family, where she rightfully enjoyed a year of doing nothing much at all. While there she tweeted and posted Facebook updates on the quirks and joys of living in the City of Light, and this book is a collection of those...
Published on March 3, 2012 by Jaylia3


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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful light reading, March 22, 2012
By 
mickey71 "mickey71" (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Paris in Love: A Memoir (Hardcover)
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An Eloisa James book is one of the very few must-buy romances for me, yet I wasn't sure if I would like this nonfiction about her year in Paris. I shouldn't even have hesitated.

The book is a collection of essays (developed from her Facebook postings and tweets) and give a vivid, colorful depiction of daily life in Paris. You can believe that she chose each word very carefully to paint a picture for her readers. And because it's presented as short essays and blurbs, it's easy to pick up and put down. I find it exceptionally good bedtime reading, not because it's boring (it's not), but because it's relaxing. (I'd rather not read about beheadings or shark attacks before trying to sleep, thank you!)

And there are definite laugh-out-loud moments. These are far and away most often caused by James's 11-year-old daughter, Anna, and her arch-nemesis or maybe best friend, Domitilla. (I have to wonder how much of Anna as written is true to the real child and how much is embellished to create the character of Anna, but no matter what, she's absolutely darling.) Other recurring stories include James's mother-in-law's resistance to the idea that her dog, Milo, needs to diet; and the Frenchman learning Italian from James's husband because he's in love with an Italian waitress (shades of Love Actually).

All in all, the only nitpicky thing I have to say about this book is that I don't like the title. "Paris in Love" makes it sound more like a dating couple. Although there's obviously plenty of love and romance between James and her husband, the book is a lot more about familial love, which seems kind of off when described as "in love." But that's a small point.

BOTTOM LINE: Don't hesitate. Buy it; savor it. Just beware of sudden urges to buy elaborate chocolates, gourmet cookware, or delicate French lingerie.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Petite observations about life in Paris, March 3, 2012
By 
Jaylia3 (Silver Spring, MD United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Paris in Love: A Memoir (Hardcover)
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After a bout with cancer, romance novelist Eloisa James took a sabbatical from her university job as a Shakespeare scholar and moved to Paris with her family, where she rightfully enjoyed a year of doing nothing much at all. While there she tweeted and posted Facebook updates on the quirks and joys of living in the City of Light, and this book is a collection of those posts. Most are no more than a few sentences long, and her Twitter followers and Facebook friends were probably delighted to read witty, observant updates about food, shopping and her children's adjustments to school, but, for me, loosely connected paragraphs, no matter how well written, are not the kind of material I want when I sit down with a book. There are several essay length pieces that are more satisfying; I especially enjoyed one titled Rose about a cancer patient friend in a Marilyn Monroe wig. The rest of the book, all the well polished, re-purposed posts, would make great reading for times when only a few minutes are available, in a doctor's office or just before sleep for instance.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice book for francophiles, March 5, 2012
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This review is from: Paris in Love: A Memoir (Hardcover)
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When reading memoirs, I usually choose a book based on some kind of connection I might have with the author and her or his life. I decided to read this book since I felt like I had two intersections with James: I'm a fellow francophile who has lived in France and I'm also an English professor. Like other reviewers, though, I had no idea that this book would also be about James' decision to do so after being treated for a major health issue.

I was also surprised to see that a large part of _Paris in Love_ was based on James' Facebook accounts. To me, this ended up making the overall narrative feel a bit disjointed and choppy in places, which is the reason for my four-star review. This is largely a matter of personal preference, but I like memoirs to have a stronger sense of cohesiveness and flow to them.

Overall, though, this is a fun read, one that's easy to dip into before bed or on a rainy day. James' glimpses into Parisian life are interesting and fun, and reading this has made me long to return to the City of Light!
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49 of 59 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I call shenanigans on this book, March 1, 2012
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This review is from: Paris in Love: A Memoir (Hardcover)
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Reading the book description, you'd never know that this little more than a collection of the Facebook and Twitter posts the author made during her year in Paris with her husband and kids. Though the author confesses this at the beginning, not only does the publisher not tell us that important fact, they advertise the book as being for fans of Adam Gopnik. Seriously? His Paris to the Moon is engaging, entertaining, thoughtful--and an actual book.

The entries range from the mind-numbingly mundane to a few vignettes that evoke a real feeling of life in Paris. The constant, though, is the author's complete self-absorption. I enjoyed a few of the observations about Paris, and there are flashes of humor and moments of charm, but there just wasn't enough to balance all the dear-diary kind of blathering about the author and her family. There are countless entries about her two kids who, frankly, seem like a couple of brats most of the time. And even if they weren't, dozens of kid anecdotes (mostly about their problems in school) aren't what I'm looking for in a book that's ostensibly about Paris.

The author had planned to write four books (no kidding) during the year in Paris, but the book doesn't indicate she spent much time writing. This short, superficial, disjointed, book of domestic inanity seemed like a contractual obligation or an attempt to make a few bucks without real effort. It's particularly annoying, because you can tell that the author has writing talent and likely could have produced something worth reading. Save your money.
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31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pass on this American Expat in Paris Memoir, March 15, 2012
By 
K. Kasabian (Silicon Valley, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Paris in Love: A Memoir (Hardcover)
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This is a book without much of a story.

Romance novelist Eloisa James (her pen name and the daughter of famed poet Robert Bly), takes a one year sabbatical and moves to Paris with her husband and two children to live the expatriate life. This memoir is meant as a chronicle of that year, but it's more a collection of disconnected and often times trite observations about life in the City of Light. The entries are reminiscent of a young teenager's diary, something not typically fit for public consumption because there is usually only an audience of one. But the reader is dragged along, page after page, as James pities a homeless man on a stoop, slathers a chicken in lavender-scented mustard and makes homemade Christmas cards. Nothing wrong with any of these things, but there's a real lack of insight and introspection on the pages, so much so, that I wondered more than once what the publisher must have been thinking. Not recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost as fabulous as Paris!, April 19, 2012
This review is from: Paris in Love: A Memoir (Hardcover)
"Paris in Love: A Memoir" is a collection of essays from famed romance author, Eloisa James, during her one year sabbatical with her family in Paris. As Ms. James explains, her mother had just died of cancer and she had just battled cancer herself, when she and her husband, both professors, decide to take a sabbatical in Paris. As the days go on in Paris, Ms. James chronicles everything from Milo, the indefinitely obese chihuahua, to her daughter's nemesis, Domitilla, to the exquisite Parisian cuisine, save risotto, which is best made by a knowing Italian chef. Her insights are real, funny, fascinating, and give the reader a sense of being a fly on the wall in the city of lights. "Paris in Love" reminds us that nothing ever worth having is easily had. As her family struggles with language barriers, fashion infractions, and the occasional mini-drama, they learn to rely on, communicate with, and commune with each other, bringing them closer together by the end of their stay.

I had the pleasure of listening to this book on audiobook. Ms. James reads the book herself, which added energy and authenticity to the reading. I highly recommend this book!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I like the format!, March 21, 2012
This review is from: Paris in Love: A Memoir (Hardcover)
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I have enjoyed reading quite a variety of memoirs, the format of Paris in Love really stands out apart from the rest. While on sabbatical from her job as a professor, she and her family pack it all up for a year abroad. She puts her all into living the experience. Whatever writing she may have thought could happen whilst on this journey, what she wound up with was a journal type chronicle of family moments, experiences in Paris, the food, the people and tremendous yet subtle wit throughout. Reading the subject matter, I thought I would try it out even though it was a different type of read for me. I opened and began reading and was thoroughly delighted to see the journaling/facebook status style. Wouldn't it be wonderful if one of my facebook friends had this sort of status going on for a year! Well I feel like I was taken along for the trip and exposed to things that I knew little about and really came to experience vicariously through these snippets of description. I may not have enjoyed it quite so much if it were written in traditional style just because it is all out of my element and could have been overwhelming. As much as I have enjoyed I reserve 5 stars for works that really knock my socks off. This was really enjoyable but I guess I fell just shy of love for Paris in Love. Side note: It did lead to chocolate cravings... consider yourself warned!
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected and poor, May 7, 2012
I was so excited when I bought this book, and was eagerly looking forward to it. I love books written by people who have left everything behind to go and live for a year or so in a foreign country. Imagine my disappointment when I opened this on my kindle yesterday and discovered that it wasn't an actual story of Eloisa's time in Paris but a series of incredibly disjointed anecdotes, none of which link together particularly well, and none of which are any length to sink your teeth into. It is NOT as described on the Amazon page, it's just a pile of Eloisa's facebook statuses bunged into a book format. Yes, they are cute. No, the are not in any depth. Susan Elizabeth Phillips says that she's a sucker for travel narratives - this is not a travel narrative, it's a collection of facebook statuses. She also says sit down and devour it... you can't because it's so disjointed that there is no flow and no rationale for why each ditty comes after the previous one. It doesn't flow, it feels clunky. There is little sense of the family, there is little sense of what is acutally happening. Yes, the anecdotes are funny in places, and yes they are interesting enough, but I do not believe that placing some lengthened facebook statuses into order makes any type of worthwhile reading experience. I am particularly disgusted that I have been charged $10 for something I could have had for free off Facebook. BUYER BEWARE. I've returned mine for a refund.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a good book!, May 10, 2012
This review is from: Paris in Love: A Memoir (Hardcover)
What a wonderful book this is! Eloisa James has written a memoir that is at times funny, romantic, and poignant. After a health crisis, she and her husband Allessandro both take a sabbatical from their respective teaching positions and move their family to Paris. The book is chock full of little vignettes of their life in France, adjusting to the cultural differences, finding their way around the city and even bridging the language issue. I particularly like the stories about her feisty daughter, Anna and her run- ins with a fellow classmate who eventually becomes her friend. There were so many interesting parts to the book. My heart felt sad when Ms. James wrote about a small museum of French historical treasures started by a local banker and later imparts the fact that the house was donated to the French government, his son died as a soldier for France and yet the entire family was shipped off to Auschwitz and never returned.
The American in me loved that some of the highly touted French cuisine is in fact, not so good, but the description of most of the food is simply amazing. The markets, the stores, the buildings make one want to chuck it all and head to France. The stories of the homeless man living in a tent with two little trees as his enjoyment in life make you appreciate life here. I had a good laugh with the stories about Milo, the family's part time Chihuahua who lives with Allesandro's mother in Venice and weighs 27 pounds! Mostly, I enjoyed the everyday stories of a family adjusting to change and loving being together. I read most of this book while writing a complicated grant for the library where I work and I couldn't wait to get home and start reading and feeling the stress just flow away with every page.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a series of postcards from a delightfully witty friend, April 9, 2012
By 
Bookreporter (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Paris in Love: A Memoir (Hardcover)
Not being much of a romance fan, I had never heard of Eloisa James before picking up PARIS IN LOVE. It seems, though, that in certain circles James is Kind of a Big Deal, beloved for her novels such as A KISS AT MIDNIGHT and MUCH ADO ABOUT YOU. PARIS IN LOVE, her memoir of a year her family spent in the City of Light, proves that James --- who is also a scholar of Renaissance literature by the name of Mary Bly --- more than deserves the reputation she has among the romance-reading population.

Like many a memoirist before her, James' account of her year in Paris was prompted by a huge life change. In her case, it was a breast cancer diagnosis when she was in her 40s, just weeks after she had lost her mother to cancer. James made a full recovery after undergoing a mastectomy, but still felt like something was missing: "I immediately started anticipating the epiphany when I would be struck by the acute beauty of life. I would see joy in my children's eyes (rather than stark rebellion), eschew caffeine, and simply be, preferably while doing yoga in front of a sunset.... Or perhaps not." When James discovers that, unlike in the cancer memoirs she herself enjoys reading, she still has the same old impatient, ambitious psyche, she doesn't know how to make sense of her situation --- until, almost without thinking about it, she starts giving away her possessions in preparation for a sabbatical in Paris.

PARIS IN LOVE is not a traditional memoir, in that it lacks a coherent, overarching narrative, or even much of a theme. There are subplots, of course --- her children's adjustments to the far more challenging school they attend in France, her own weight loss struggles (which pale in comparison to those of the family's rotund Chihuahua), and a sweet love story about one of her Italian husband's lovelorn language students. But overall, the book is composed of James' short, bite-sized missives, originally posted as status updates on Facebook.

The result is a series of observations, anecdotes and short vignettes that lend insight not only into James' family and her own personality but also into the heart of Paris itself, both its museums and boulevards, as well as the (often less romantic) realities largely invisible to tourists: protest marches, homelessness, and really bad food. Of course there are plenty of charming moments as well, often prompted by James' own children and by her observations of kids on the street: "I was sitting in a cafe when an adorable two-year-old toddled past, wearing black tights, a black-and-white checked dress, and a black sweater. And a black barrette. No wonder Parisians are effortlessly sophisticated --- they learn the virtues of a little black dress when we're all still wearing Disney T-shirts emblazoned with pink rhinestones and sunglasses to match."

Although the lack of a sustained narrative can make the book feel frivolous and insubstantial, her observations can also be rich and delectable --- like a dark chocolate bonbon, perhaps. More than anything, PARIS IN LOVE reads like a series of postcards from a delightfully witty friend, dispatches from a place where we, too, would love to while away a year.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl
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Paris in Love: A Memoir
Paris in Love: A Memoir by Eloisa James (Hardcover - April 3, 2012)
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