I’d like to thank author Samantha Verant for contributing this guest post about Paris must reads for a Random House Australia blog tour. Over the years, Samantha Vérant has visited many different countries, lived in many places, and worked many jobs— always on the search for the one thing that truly excited her. Then, one day, she found everything she’s been looking for: a passion for the written word and true love. Writing not only enabled her to open her heart, it led her to southwestern France, where she’s now married to a sexy French rocket scientist she met over twenty years ago, a stepmom to two incredible kids, and the adoptive mother to one ridiculously expensive Bengal cat. When she’s not trekking from Provence to the Pyrénées, tasting wine in American-sized glasses, or embracing her inner Julia Child while deliberating what constitutes the perfect boeuf bourguignon, Samantha is making her best effort to relearn those dreaded conjugations. You can find out more about Samantha at her website and you can read my review of her just-released memoir Seven Letters From Paris here. The previous blog on the Seven Letters From Paris blog tour was The Literary Gossip.
First, I’d like to thank you for hosting me today! Merci! Merci mille fois! I’m Samantha Vérant, author of the recently released memoir Seven Letters from Paris, and, today, I’m thrilled to share my five must-read books about Paris with you. Of course, my list of fantastic reads regarding the city of lights and love is much longer, but these five are truly special. They are the first books I read when I moved to France five years ago…and they have stayed in my heart.
1. Almost French by Sarah Turnbull
In late 2010, right after I finished the first draft of Seven Letters from Paris, I discovered Sarah’s delightful memoir. Almost French was the first France/Paris based memoir I read. Like Sarah, I also threw caution to the wind by up and moving to France all for the sake of love. Although I’d recently moved to southwestern France, not Paris, I really connected with the enormous adjustments Sarah faced, mostly because I was going through them too. But Sarah’s memoir isn’t just for expats living in France, or for Francophiles who dream of leaping into the Parisian lifestyle– it’s an adventurous and humorous tale of trying to fit in as well as the effort it takes to carve out a new life.
2. Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard
A few months after I read Almost French, somebody had suggested I read Elizabeth’s memoir, Lunch In Paris. Again, I connected to this story, and not just because she was another American expat living in France tripping through French bureaucracy, cultural differences, and faux pas. Simply put, I loved her honesty and witty humor. I’m also a bit of foodie, so I loved the recipes interspersed throughout the book. When I was reading Lunch In Paris, I felt as though I’d made a new friend. And, eventually, I did. This past spring, Elizabeth graciously agreed to endorse my memoir after she gave it a read. And, this past summer, Jean-Luc and I were visiting his family in Provence, close to where Elizabeth now lives, and I was able to meet her (and Gwendal) in person. We had Lunch in Provence! Elizabeth is as warm and genuine in real life as she is on the page.
3. My Life in France by Julia Child
I must have been about nine or ten when I first saw a re-run of Julia Child’s My French Kitchen. Perhaps it was Julia who inspired me to try my hand in the kitchen at a very young age. Of course, back then, I never attempted a boeuf bourguignon, but I did make a very mean meatloaf. What I loved – and still love– about Julia Child was her zest for life and her fierce determination. In My Life in France, the spirit that is Julia comes alive. Whether she’s trying to make her mark in Paris, Marseille, or the US, she is the definition of resilient. More than a just a memoir about food, My Life in France is about overcoming obstacles, following dreams, and embracing everything life has to offer. Bon appétit!
4. The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz
Written in vignettes, this hilarious memoir hooked me with the second sentence.
“It wasn’t the moment when I found myself seriously considering buying dress socks with goofy cartoon characters on them.”
I spit out a laugh, dampening the pages of my book with tiny droplets. See, it’s not that I purchase socks with cartoon characters on them, but my French husband does. The Sweet Life in Paris tackles the adjustments of living in France, the cultural differences, and French bureaucracy with humor and flair. The bonus? Fifty or so mouth-watering recipes flavor this memoir – like the Pork Loin with Brown Sugar–Bourbon Glaze. A great read for Francophiles and foodies alike.
5. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Hemingway renowned tome, A Moveable Feast, in which he captures the romance and allure of Paris in the twenties. With a cast of literary characters that includes F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound, and set in places that still exist today, like Shakespeare and Company or Les Deux Magots, Hemingway reflects back to a simpler life when he was honing his craft – to the streets, the cafés, and bookstores, to the early days in Paris when he was young, poor and, most of all, happy.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Paris, yes, is a moveable feast.
The next blog on the Seven Letters From Paris blog tour is Starts at Sixty.