Friday, February 24, 2012

Gotham Gal Review: Paris My Sweet

Author:  Amy Thomas
Publisher:  Sourcebooks
Publication date: 2/1/2012
Pages: 304

Synopsis:  Forever a girl obsessed with all things French, sweet freak Amy Thomas landed a gig as rich as the purest dark chocolate: leave Manhattan for Paris to write ad copy for Louis Vuitton. Working on the Champs-Élysées, strolling the charming streets, and exploring the best patisseries and boulangeries, Amy marveled at the magnificence of the City of Light.

But does falling in love with one city mean turning your back on another? As much as Amy adored Paris, there was part of her that felt like a humble chocolate chip cookie in a sea of pristine macarons. PARIS, MY SWEET explores how the search for happiness can be as fleeting as a salted caramel souffle's rise, as intensely satisfying as molten chocolate cake, and about how the life you're meant to live doesn't always taste like the one you envisioned.

Part love letter to Paris, part love letter to New York, and total devotion to all things sweet, PARIS, MY SWEET is a treasure map for anyone with a hunger for life.
Amy Thomas is a New York—based writer who, for two lucky years, got to call Paris home. In addition to working as a copywriter in advertising, she writes about food, travel, design, and fashion for various publications such as the New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Town & Country, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. She is slightly obsessed with sweets.

Gotham Gal says:  It was kind of cruel of Sourcebooks to send me a copy of Amy Thomas's memoir PARIS MY SWEET just after I'd given up sweets for Lent. Reading page after page of all the delectable treats she ate in Paris made me just want to lick the page! Like Amy, I especially adore dark chocolate. The old adage "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it," sprang to mind as I flipped through the pages.  Amy adores Paris and jumps at the chance to live there only to find out that living in Paris is far different from visiting Paris.

PARIS MY SWEET brought back memories of the time that I lived in London just after college.  Like Amy, my dream had alwyas been to live abroad, but in my case it was London.  I was lucky enough to be able to buy a six month student work permit which enabled me to work anywhere in the UK.  London wasn' t unfamiliar to me, I had spent 5 weeks the summer before my senior year of high school and a semester my junior year, but living and working there was far different from being a student.  Finding a flat was a struggle, particularly since I didn't want to elnd up living with Americans (I eventually did) nor was finding a job a breeze, even though I had office skills. The four months I spent during one incredibly hot summer were some of the most difficult, frustrating and yet exhilirating experiences of my life.

Unlike me, Amy got to work on the Louis Vuitton account for Ogilvy and Mather, although incredibly LVMH didn't give the ad agency a discount for employees to shop their. How rude! It would be too easy to hate Thomas for landing such a cushy job in the City of Light but she's such an engaging narrator, not afraid to share with the reader her hopes and frustrations, that it felt like listening to a close friend over a glass of Lillet in  small cafe near St. Germain. I sympathized with Amy as she spent 3 weeks having to living in a disgusting hotel near Montmartre (really Ogilvy, you couldn't have sprung for a corporate apartment?), jumped for joy when she found her dream flat, and sighed over her lack of dating prospects in Paris. I totally understood how torn she was between her new life in Paris and her old life in New York.

Her use of sweets, how both cities differ in their approach to dessert was refreshing. I especially enjoyed the section on cupcakes, from her earliest childhood memories, to how the French were interpreting an American classic.  The book is very much a lighthearted romp, leavened with doses of bittersweet medicine. There were times though when I wanted Thomas to dig deeper, to share more of her experiences in Paris. For example, the differences between healthcare in the US and France, anyone who has seen the Michael Moore film, remembers the scene of the ex-pat Americans raving about French healthcare and how they never want to leave Paris.  I also wanted to know more about what happened to her cat Milo, who developed bad patches.  It would have been nice if Thomas had shown us the scene where she lost it at work, rather than telling us about it later.

Final Verdict:  A look at the sweet side of life in New York and Paris. Don't read this book if you are on a diet!