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How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits Hardcover – September 2, 2014
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“Four whip-smart, successful French women poke fun at the stereotypes of the “Parisienne” and give genuine beauty and lifestyle tips, recipes, and fashion dos and don’ts . . . De Maigret’s photography and a witty, wise, often tongue-in-cheek delivery puts the reader on a sure path to achieving the French femme’s je ne sais quoi.”
“You don’t have to be French to be a Parisian.“
“Very, very funny. While reading, I actually felt chicer, wittier and très Parisienne. I was laughing out loud by the end.”
—Plum Sykes, author of Bergdorf Blondes and The Debutante Divorcée
About the Author
Anne Berest is the author of two novels and a biography of Françoise Sagan published this year; she also writes for television, cinema, and theater.
Audrey Diwan became a scriptwriter after studying journalism and political science. She wrote the screenplay for Cédric Jimenez’s La French, with Jean Dujardin, and is now directing her first feature film; she is also editor-at-large for the magazine Stylist.
Caroline de Maigret studied literature at the Sorbonne before moving to New York to model. She returned to Paris in 2006 to found her music label. De Maigret has been an ambassador for Chanel since 2012, and supports women worldwide through the NGO Care.
Sophie Mas was born and raised in Paris. After graduating from Sciences Po and HEC, she started her own film company and now works as a producer in Los Angeles, New York and São Paulo.
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You can flip to any page and start reading, 'cause it's a mishmosh of :
40% bullet-point "list-icles" of Parisian aphorisms, do's + don'ts
30% filler photography by one of the authors
20% inner monologues that show Parisienne's thought processes on life
10% filler artwork (gotta fill up more space!)
The tone is informative, yet intentionally self-deprecating, 'cause, like, "let's not turn off the American audience with our snobbisms and superiority complex! After all, we need to sell books!" This makes the book engaging and easy to read at first.
Chapter 1: The Basics
-Aphorisms: "make it look easy", "always be f*ckable", "be own your knight in shining armor"
-Fashion No-No's: "wearing too much makeup", "sweatpants", "Ugg boots"
-Mannerisms, Faux Pas, Famous Parisiennes
In essence, the Parisienne doesn't want to look primped 'n polished. She's naturally confident, having grown up with an excellent French education that has cultivated her in philosophy, arts, literature, and good taste. This is key--- she has so much substance that she knows she's worth it. No need to prove it with designer logos or bling. She's selfish in a good way, which can read as snobbish to Americans.
Chapter 2: Collection of Disjointed Listicles
-Being Aloof: "talk softly so that people have to lean in to hear you", "Always look as if gazing into the sunset."
-Dinner Party Talk: "if possible, get the conversation flowing with a controversial political statement"
-Driving: "whenever she gets pulled over, the Parisienne begins to cry"
-Recipe for Lemon Chicken and Pot Au Feu
This chapter is just as cuckoo as the Parisienne. To sum it up, she's full of contradictions. She's a feminist but watches porn. She'll smoke on her way to the countryside to get fresh air. She acts aloof but has anxieties.
Chapter 3: More Fashion + Culture Stuff
-Lists of "essential" wardrobe items which you've seen in magazines/blogs 100x before (ballet flats, white shirt, scarf, trench...)
-More random diary-like musings on books (Proust is a given), savoring the moment, poetic odes to sitting at cafes, aging gracefully
Chapter 4: Love
Few of these bullet points will work if you're seducing an American man. They're just not used to the cold, aloofness "game" unless one is extraordinarily pretty. This is not an instructional manual-- it's more to help you understand the liberal French attitude towards love and sex; where sexual jokes are totally normal in office environment, where having a lover on the side is natural. You just have to grow up in the culture to "get it."
Chapter 5: Filler Lists of Stuff
-Recipes for crepes, baked apples, eggplant caviar + more
-Parlor games to play at a dinner party
-List of French words used in English + vice versa ("trompe l'oeil")
-The authors' favorite Paris haunts, films, quotes
Ok, some redeeming moments -- the games are actually fun, and the recipes authentic. But the list of Paris hotspots will ultimately be out of date, and the inner monologues are repetitive and tired. There is a 2-page spread of a Paris photo for you to "cut out" and put in your pocket. Hmm... TRYING to fill up the book, eh? As i reach the end, it seems desperate to provide substance through lists. Well, i can get these bullet points from the 'Net without the overtly dreamy filler paragraphs.
i'm familiar enough with the French culture that this book is a throwaway for me. I wish the book was more like Chapter 4, which is the most sociological and interesting. The inner monologues throughout also help in understanding this enigmatic creature. But the rest of this "book" of lists is easily found on various blogs and articles on French style.
If you're new to Parisian culture, and don't want to scour Google for all the various info, then this book can be a good "101".
You won't become Parisian after reading this book. But you can *definitely* understand her a little more after reading it.
It's still insightful and makes me think I'm chic for never using a straw at a restaurant, but the point of the book is very clearly: be who you are, and be really comfortable in your own skin. Don't be so concerned about age, think about things worth thinking about - not over thinking an outfit or blah blah blah.
If you don't like sacrasm, don't buy the book. If you're comfortable in your skin and want light reading - this is for you.