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L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home Hardcover – November 7, 2017
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An NPR Best Book of 2017
“The best thing about this book is that David writes as he talks so it is like having a long conversation with a good friend. Equal parts honest, intriguing, distressing, entertaining, funny and appetizing. Pour yourself a glass of French wine, grab a nibble and cozy up to a great night with a great book.”
—New York Times Book Review
“David Lebovitz hilariously recounts the ups and downs of buying an apartment in the City of Light. Readers will relate to Lebovitz’s exploits, from Ikea fails to bureaucratic foibles.”
“Food lovers and travelers alike will fall in love with every single one of the magically charming stories David skillfully recounts.”
“Painfully funny... typically charming and occasionally a touch risqué.”
—Christian Science Monitor
“Pastry chef David Lebovitz brings his conversational and often wry, self-deprecating voice to his latest book L’Appart.”
“The book may make you want to never so much as replace a cabinet in your home ever again, but at the same time, it will give you a realistic, yet, somehow still appealing view of what life as a Parisian is really like.”
“In aworld filled with angst, natural disasters, and politicalstrife, Lebovitz’s writing provides a delicious escape.”
“Each of the short chapters offers a brief, humorous, occasionally cringe-inducing glimpse into some aspect of the home-buying and remodeling odyssey on which Lebovitz embarks. . . . He expresses true affection both for his adopted home in Paris and for the American values that shape his own outlook and approach.”
“Lebovitz's stories shimmer with despair, distress, and regret, but he nevertheless embraces life with all its flaws in the city he loves.”
“Lighthearted... with healthy dashes of satire, wit, and humor…an engaging, entertaining, and delicious divertissement.”
“Francophile Americans will learn plenty here about Parisian French’s often mystifying idioms. Recipes conclude chapters and range from simple chocolate cookies to complex kouign-amman, Brittany’s ultrarich, caramelized version of a croissant.”
“David captures the torturous travails of apartment renovation in the City of Light with humor and acumen. 'Pas de problème,' he's told time and again as the renovation derails. He is as alert to details of parquet and working with a notaire as he is with recipes for tarte tatin and quiche, both included here. This memoir brings fans of David even closer to the happy life he's built for himself in Paris.”
—Jacques Pépin, chef, author, and PBS-TV cooking show host
“This book is so entertaining and so deliciously told that I could just gobble it all up in one sitting. As always, David Lebovitz managed to draw me into his scrumptious universe with a million poignant observations and countless of laugh-out-loud moments.”
—Yotam Ottolenghi, author of Jerusalem, Plenty, and Sweet
“Written in lovely, lucid prose, the story of David's endeavor to make a home for himself in Paris is unflinchingly honest, often poignant, and frequently hilarious. As he astutely perceives, the great gift of his odyssey is ultimately the wry and very Gallic world view he acquires through the eye-popping challenges of buying and renovating a Paris apartment, and it's this hard-won treasure, along with a shy but steely self-knowledge, that makes L'Appart such a memorably winning read.”
—Alexander Lobrano, author of Hungry for Paris and Hungry for France
“David is an incredible storyteller, both in and out of the kitchen. I thoroughly enjoy the authenticity of life in a different country, where every day requires an adjustment and every event is a curve ball. But that's where the joy is: embracing life with a wonderful attitude, seeking exploration and novelty.”
—Gabriele Corcos, chef and author of the New York Times bestseller Extra Virgin
About the Author
DAVID LEBOVITZ has been a professional cook and baker for most of his life; he spent nearly thirteen years at Berkeley's Chez Panisse until he left the restaurant business in 1999 to write books. He is the author of six books, including My Paris Kitchen, The Perfect Scoop, and The Sweet Life in Paris. David has been featured in Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Cook's Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, the New York Times, and more. He moved to Paris in 2004 and turned davidlebovitz.com into one of the first phenomenally popular food and living blogs.
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So that's why my review has only four stars. That fifth star would have gone to the photos.
In L'Appart, Lebovitz focuses on the tribulations of buying and remodeling an apartment in Paris. Tired of renting and wanting a real kitchen where he can do his cookbook recipe development, he goes through bureaucratic hoops and almost a year to finally buy an apartment with the intent of remodeling it to suit his needs. The book starts out with him peeing in a cup at the doctor's office to get a health check in order to obtain a mortgage (WHAT??). He hires a contractor based on the recommendation of one friend, somehow despite knowing architects in the city. Here the escapades turn a bit dark and more than a little cringe-inducing. The contractor's repeated mistakes and longer and longer absences, coupled with an electrician with what seems to be a personality disorder, turn from bad to horrifying. Lebovitz is increasingly stressed and angry. The frustrations of issuing check after check for work that never gets done, is done incorrectly, and even to correct mistakes that the contractor made, really transfers to the reader. It stops being fun and starts being a bit more Kafka than Bryson. It's sad, and horrifying, and stressful. Toward the end, it's gone terribly wrong and Lebovitz finds competent help to correct the numerous, egregious, and life-threatening errors made by the incompetent contractor (CO2 being pumped in to the apartment, a fuse box full of melting wires, a sub-floor heating system that would surely shock anyone with wet feet, a mistake in the basement that could compensate the stability of the building, etc.). It's mortifying. The problems are corrected and Lebovitz moves on with his life in Paris, but not before the reader is left in shock over the injustice. It's really awful. There is no resolution with the contractor, who is presumably still out there in the world screwing up other people's apartments. Lebovitz even goes to a lawyer, who says there is nothing to be done.
The 25 recipes look delicious and come with Lebovitz's charming introductions that lay out a little story and a bit about the food. I haven't tried any but I have no doubt they are delicious. Some (Lemon Yogurt Cake) are more approachable than others (Kouign Amann).
I continue to adore David Lebovitz, but I would not strongly recommend this book for a light read. Maybe if you're thinking of remodeling your home, it is a good cautionary tale to contemplate!
My thanks to Blogging for Books and Penguin Random House for sending me the book free of charge. My opinions are my own.
Whether you’ve actually visited Paris or not there may exist an insidious wonder about what it would be like to live there.
“L’Apart” allows reader/listener to vicariously live through Mr. Liebovitz’s daring life adventure moving from San Francisco to Paris.
Reading/listening about his surrender to waiting (beyond what most Americans would have the patience for inexplicably satisfies.
He learns how to play the game over the years it took him to finally buy his Parisian apartment.
Connecting to with Realtors(!) contractors and cast of distinctive Parisian personalities? Well, I admire the hell out of his tenacity.
And there’s recipes, of course.
Play recipe for eclair filling on a continue loop.
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