Thursday, February 11, 2010

What I'm Reading Now - Lunch in Paris: A Love Story

Title: LUNCH IN PARIS A Love Story with Recipes - Elizabeth Bard
Pub. Date: February 2010

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Format: Hardcover, 324pp

What it's About:  While attending a conference in London, Elizabeth Bard meets a handsome Frenchmen. Later in Paris for a weekend visit, she met him for lunch and her whole life changed. LUNCH IN PARIS is a memoir about a young American woman caught up in two passionate love affairs—one with her new beau, Gwendal (I just realized that he has the same name as Gwendal Peizerat, the French Ice dancer) the other with French cuisine. Packing her bags for a new life in the world's most romantic city, Elizabeth is plunged into a world of bustling open-air markets, bistros, and women who don't need to diet. Elizabeth finds that the deeper she immerses herself in the world of French cuisine, the more Paris itself begins to translate.

My Thoughts: Thanks to Amanda McCabe, I went out yesterday in the snowstorm here in New York to purchase LUNCH IN PARIS: A LOVE STORY by Elizabeth Bard.  I was interested in reading this memoir, because I've been contemplating writing a memoir about my love affair with England.

I enjoyed this book immensely, Bard is a charming writer. I felt as if I knew who she was, that she was someone that I could be friends with. It was the perfect book to snuggle up with on a cold winter's day.  As someone who has lived abroad, although in England where technically they speak the same language that we do, I emphasized with Elizabeth's struggles, not only to learn a new language but also to deal with the cultural differences. The French way of life is completely different than ours, no matter how many McDonald's, EuroDisney, or Starbucks there might be. I almost wish that I could have slipped her a copy of Culture Shock! France or suggested that she read the myriad of memoirs written by American women who have married Frenchmen. I have a good friend, an actress that I worked with in New York, who now lives in Paris. When she was here last March, she talked about the difficulties of living in France, but of course, all I could think about was, how lucky she was. Reading LUNCH IN PARIS, I have a better sense of what she has gone through since moving there 8 years ago. Particularly the sections about trying to make new friends, and how difficult it is with Europeans who seem to have known each other since they were in nappies.

The book also made me long to take another trip to Paris. I have a feeling that I will see it with new eyes after reading this book. I've only been there twice, one in college with a whole fleet of Americans, and once 12 years ago with some friends I made while studying in London. I've always longed to go back but the pull of London has always been stronger. Funny, reading this book made me realize that I don't think I've ever been attracted to Frenchmen! However, I was charmed by her relationship with Gwendal, and the struggles she faced daily, not only to make new friends, but to also explain her new life to her family who probably couldn't comprehend how she could deal with out a great bagel, or some of the other things that we take for granted in our daily life here in the States, like grocery delivery, repairmen who actually show up when they say they will, etc. Particularly poignant were the sections dealing with her father-in-law's illness. Bard gives the reader details that were left out of Michael Moore's documentary SICKO.

I look forward to reading more about Bard's life in Paris on her blog, and hopefully in another book.

Warning! Reading this book will make you incredibly hungry. You might want to head out to the nearest Le Pain Quotdien or Financier Patisserie after reading this book. I had a hankering for escargots, brie, and a glass of Lillet myself. Ooh, and a gooey chocolate eclair with the chocolate filling.

No comments: