Wednesday, 29 October 2014

An american girl in Paris

Since I got my Kindle, I have read in a month what I would normally read in a year! Very good investment if you ask me.

I've been following Vicky's blog for a long time, found by chance when I was looking for inspiration to start my own. So of course, I had to read her books (yes, because she already wrote two!)

Vicky is an American thirty-something from St Louis (In Missouri, not in Louisiana like half of Parisian guys seem to think!), who has lived in Paris for the last 10 years. Within this time she managed to find a job, a husband, have 2 kids, write 2 books, drink a lot more wine than necessary, stuff her face with too many croissants and survive, with difficulty sometimes, the very frustrating French administration.

In her first book "Confessions of a Paris party girl", she recounts the early years, up until she gets married. The title says it all.  She really is confessing all her antics in the French capital. She finds some drinking buddies, one of whom is an Irish girl (of course!) who teaches her some Irish phrases amongst other things. The part where she doesn't understands what "taking the piss" means made me laugh, because I really thought it was a universal saying, not specifically Irish. She's not ashamed of telling it as it is, from the drinking sessions to the hangovers and strange encounters. And there is A LOT of drinking. I wonder how her liver has survived. I'm not going to tell too much but in the end, of course, she meets a really nice Parisian guy (Yes, it does exist, I wouldn't have thought so). The way she describes Paris and the French way of life is very positive (except the Government workers but I'll have to agree with her on this one!), and the weird thing is that it nearly made me like the city. I'm not from Paris you see, very far from it actually, and we have this habit in Brittany to always criticize the Parisians and the Capital in general. This book almost makes me want to go back there for a visit...

The sequel, "Confessions of a Paris Potty trainer", tells her experience as an American mother in Paris. I related a lot more to that book, probably because I have kids myself. She goes through the doctors and midwives appointments where clearly she can't be ashamed of her body, as she has to lay down naked more than once on the examination table. That's something that struck with me. No, not all French women are comfortable with showing all their bits to a stranger! I still have nightmares of my first appointment with the gynaecologist when I was 18 and I had to bare it all. One thing I loved about being pregnant in Ireland is that here, they really respect patients privacy, always ask if you're OK, and explain what they're going to do. From Vicky's experience and my friends in France, I feel that French doctors don't treat pregnant women with the same respect for privacy. 
She had a hard time with both her pregnancies and had a very emotional account of how she gave birth prematurely to a first son (35 weeks), who had to stay in the premature unit for 11 days. Going through pre-term labour on her second pregnancy as well, she was put on bed rest at 25 weeks (and that's where she obviously found the time to finish her book!). Again, she is very honest in her experiences but somehow always manages to stay positive and see the funny side of every situation.

There is a lot more to say about both books but I'm not going to give too much away. It's a very easy read (I devoured them in less than a week), funny, witty, honest and I'd recommend them to anyone who is interested in what Paris life is really like.