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Paris is both a setting and character.
Fact and Fiction: A Few of My Favorite Books Set in Paris
Posted on: 4/14/14
In Paris, the imagination reacts sooner than one can stop it—especially if you’re a writer. For this reason it’s certain the city will never fail to go down in history, in not one, but hundreds of versions. Its splendor sets the perfect scene for stories both real and imagined to play out, some that have become my favorite reads. From the classics to “chick-lit,” seeing Paris from the perspective of many different writers only reminds me how much I’ve still to discover here. Here are some of my favorite Paris reads:
“Almost French: Love & Life in Paris” by Sarah Turnbull
I read Sarah’s account of transitioning her life into France from Australia before I moved to Paris myself. While she came for love, I enjoyed how she made Paris completely her own experience in the novel. Amused by all the peculiarities and charm of her new city, she recounts anecdotes of life in the Marais, remodeling a tiny Parisian apartment, learning the language, and many more cultural nuances, including some fashion and beauty observations. It’s a lovely and light-hearted read for anyone curious about what day-to-day life in Paris is truly like.
“A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway wrote, “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.” He would know, as his sometimes-fictional memoir is inspired by the years he lived in and wrote about the city. From the change of seasons to his favorite cafes, like Café De Flore, Les Deux Magots, Le Dôme and others, Hemingway’s history is still living in Paris today as we can visit these same shops and cafes. His work demonstrates that in every Parisian story, Paris is both a setting and character. It’s a classic that anyone who has traveled to, lived in, or aspired to visit Paris must read.
J’adore Paris by Isabelle Lafleche
Isabelle Lafleche’s delightful story of a Parisian newly returned to her hometown from New York City has all the glamour one would expect from a novel set in the city of lights. Couture and romance dazzle the life of Catherine, who works in high fashion and lives in a beautiful Parisian flat with her handsome French beau. Readers chase the suspense page by page when Catherine finds out her new high-profile job is more dangerous than she ever imagined. I can’t wait to see what is next for this character.