Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Book review - That's Paris: An anthology of life, love and sarcasm in the city of light


As you might know, I'm not a big fan of Paris. Breton people usually have that sort of love-hate relationship with the capital. We all agree it's a beautiful city to visit, with wonderful sites, museums, churches and landscapes, but we would never live there (unless absolutely necessary of course). It's too big, crowded, polluted and Parisians (except my good friend Laetitia) are not the most welcoming bunch if I'm honest. 

So, how come I have almost fallen in love with Paris? I started to read Vicki's blog a year ago, an American girl who has lived in Paris for the past ten years and the way she talked about her experience just appealed to me. She kept it real with a touch of humour and you could really see she was embracing the French way of life (especially the wine drinking, but who wouldn't really?!).

I read her first two books, Confessions of a Paris party girl and Confessions of a Paris potty trainer, that I reviewed right here. To be honest, it was so entertaining I couldn't put the Kindle down and read both books in a matter of days. 

This time, Vicky is back with a vengeance, and the help of 23 authors. With her fellow editor, Adria J.Cimino, they put together an anthology about Paris. It's a mix of fiction, non-fiction and humorous pieces that take you right in the heart of the City of Lights. All written by francophiles, foreigners who fell in love with Paris or even French authors, the book covers a multitude of subjects, sometimes serious like love and loss, sometimes funny like the infamous French administration or the maze that a French supermarket can be. Some stories just take you to another world altogether, from mysterious encounters on a bridge or in a cemetery, to an improbable Zombie apocalypse...  An interesting feature of this book is that 4 pieces are offered both in English and French. As a bilingual person but the worst translator in the world, I can safely say the stories were equally interesting and engaging in both languages (well done to the translators!).

It would be hard to review each piece, but there are definitely all kind of stories and styles to suit everyone's taste. For some reason, I have been drawn to bitter sweet tales like "A scoop of Henry" by Cheryl McAlister, where the main character spreads her late husband's ashes across the city. An other stand out for me was "Violette", by Frederique Veysset, the story of a couple who inherit their neighbour's apartment and find a "hidden treasure" behind a condemned door... The prize for the funniest piece would have to go to "La dame de la nuit" by Leslie Floyd, where an unfortunate American student is being mistaken for someone that she's not (hint: translate the title in English and you will understand!). I also have a special mention for the two mesmerising stories by Didier Quemener (this guy must have Breton blood with a name like that...) "Half Past midnight" and "Le chemin du Dragon". 

In the end, another great book, full of different aspects of life in the City of Light. I'm almost making peace with the French Capital... Who would have known!

On a side note, I really really wonder where Vicki finds the time and the energy to be married, have two kids, work full time, write two books and publish a third one through her own publishing house that she set up a few months ago... And I'm complaining that I can't find proper quality time to write... Considering she also is an avid fan of zombies, I have come to the conclusion that she must be a vampire. How else could it be? She obviously doesn't sleep at all to be able to do everything. That's the only explanation. 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from Vicki in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions are my own.