Paris in Love: A Memoir

Paris in Love: A Memoir

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by Eloisa James

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In 2009, New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James took a leap that many people dream about: she sold her house, took a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor, and moved her family to Paris. Paris in Love: A Memoir chronicles her joyful year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
With no classes to


In 2009, New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James took a leap that many people dream about: she sold her house, took a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor, and moved her family to Paris. Paris in Love: A Memoir chronicles her joyful year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
With no classes to teach, no committee meetings to attend, no lawn to mow or cars to park, Eloisa revels in the ordinary pleasures of life—discovering corner museums that tourists overlook, chronicling Frenchwomen’s sartorial triumphs, walking from one end of Paris to another. She copes with her Italian husband’s notions of quality time; her two hilarious children, ages eleven and fifteen, as they navigate schools—not to mention puberty—in a foreign language; and her mother-in-law Marina’s raised eyebrow in the kitchen (even as Marina overfeeds Milo, the family dog).
Paris in Love invites the reader into the life of a most enchanting family, framed by la ville de l’amour.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Much-praised romance author James (literature, Fordham Univ.; The Duke Is Mine) survived a bout with breast cancer, the same disease that killed her mother. Though chemotherapy and radiation were not prescribed, James still felt she needed a life change. She and her husband, Alessandro, their precocious ten-year-old daughter, Anna, and sometimes surly 15-year-old son, Luca, sold their New Jersey home and a good number of their possessions and moved to Paris for a year. She here reveals the City of Light in its intrinsic Paris-ness—its eateries, museums, shops, and smells—through a collection of meticulous Facebook updates, revised for the book, bracketed by longer essays, some harking back to her Minnesota childhood. With all the wit and urbanity that have made her romance novels best sellers, James draws readers into her year abroad and will make them wish she was a Facebook friend, to have followed these captivating insights on a daily basis. VERDICT Not just for Francophiles or even James's legion of fans, this delectable confection, which includes recipes, is more than a visit to a glorious city: it is also a tour of a family, a marriage, and a love that has no borders. Très magnifique!—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal

Product Details

Gale Cengage Learning
Publication date:
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt


One October day we picked up Anna and her new friend Erica after school and walked to the Eiffel Tower. The girls ran ahead, zooming here and there like drunk fighter pilots showing off. Alessandro and I tried to imagine why the French ever planned to demolish the tower after the 1889 World Fair. It's such a beautiful, sturdy accomplishment; destroying it would be like painting over the Mona Lisa because of her long nose. Smallish bateaux mouches, or tourist boats, moor in the Seine near the foot of the tower, or so my guidebook said. We wandered beneath the lacework iron, the girls skittering and shrieking like seagulls. Down by the water we paid for the cheaper tickets, the kind that come without crepes and champagne. With twenty minutes to wait, we retreated to an ancient carousel next to the river. A plumpy woman sat huddled in her little ticket box, shielded from tourists and the rain, although as yet neither had appeared.

Anna and Erica clambered aboard, but still the operator waited, apparently hoping that two children astride would somehow attract more. The girls sat tensely on their garish horses, their skinny legs a little too long. At ten years old, they'll soon find themselves too dignified for such childish amusements. But not yet.

Finally the music started and the horses jerked forward. A crowded merry-go-round on a sunny day is a blur of children's grins and bouncing bottoms. But as the girls disappeared from view, leaving us to watch riderless horses jolt up and down, I realized that an empty merry-go-round on a cloudy day loses that frantic gaiety, the sense that the horses dash toward some joyful finish line.

These horses could have been objets trouvés, discovered on a dustheap and pressed into service. The steed behind Anna's was missing the lower half of his front leg.

They arched their necks like chargers crossing the Alps on some military crusade, battle-scarred and mournful. Every chip of gold paint dented by a child's heels stood out, stark and clear. With nowhere to go, and nothing better to do, the operator let the girls go around and around. Finally, though, the music slowed, the last few notes falling disjointedly into the air. I decided there is nothing more melancholy than a French carousel on a rainy day, and wished we had paid for champagne and crepes.

  • On the Métro heading to school, Anna launched into a wicked impersonation of her enraged English teacher stamping her foot: "Shut zee mouths! Zit down! Little cretins!" The entire subway car was laughing, though Anna remained totally unaware of her captive and captivated audience.

  • Alessandro brought home a very successful makeup present after the non-flowers: a heart-shaped cheese, sort of a Camembert/Brie, as creamy as butter and twice as delicious. We ate it on crusty bread, with a simple salad of orange peppers, and kiwis for dessert.

  • I just came across a list Luca created on a scrap of paper. At the top of the sheet he wrote (in cursive) "The End."

    The list is entitled "Several Problems":

    --Can't write in cursive script
    --Can't write in Italian
    --Don't think I copied the math homework down correctly
    --Screwed up on the Italian writing evaluation
    --Have French essay for Monday
    --Need my books by tomorrow

    I feel terrible. What have we done, bringing him here? I have ulcers just reading the list.

  • My sister mentioned before we left for France that a relative on our mother's side had published a memoir about living in Paris. I'd never...

  • Meet the Author

    Eloisa James (aka Mary Bly) is a Shakespeare professor at Fordham University in New York City and a New York Times bestselling author of historical romance novels.

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    Paris in Love 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
    SarahJones More than 1 year ago
    I am a fan of all things Eloisa, so I was thrilled to discover that she was writing a memoir of her time in Paris, having lived vicariously through her Facebook updates for her year-long adventure. Paris in Love delivers on so many levels--it's filled with lovely little vignettes that paint a gorgeous picture of live in Paris...sometimes uproariously funny, sometimes deeply moving, and there's even a sigh-worthy love story! Most importantly, there's such inspiration to be drawn from the story; after a (thankfully quick) cancer scare, Eloisa and her husband closed up shop in New Jersey and committed to a year in Paris to rediscover themselves, their family and the world. The book is filled with a passion for life that leaves you ready to pack your own bags and follow. Recommended for everyone.
    FLORATHEREDMENACE More than 1 year ago
    I have been a fan of Eloisa James' writing ever since I discovered her first book, "Potent Pleasures.” Since then I have had the great pleasure of reading each and every one of her novels. When I learned that she had taken a sabbatical from her alter ego life as Mary Bly, tenured professor of Shakespeare at Fordham University, and was posting from Paris on Facebook, I finally took the plunge and joined Facebook myself. At the time very few of us knew why she and her family decided to spend a year in Paris; we were just happy to be invited along on the adventure. Each day’s post was an insight into “La vie Parisienne” told in the exquisite, evocative and descriptive style that is Eloisa James’ signature. In her Memoir “Paris in Love,” I enjoyed reliving and remembering all those posts from that year. More importantly, the longer essays that are interspersed throughout the book are life lessons that expand on the theme of living each day to the fullest. In retrospect, and now knowing more of the facts surrounding the decision to spend a year in Paris, (her mother’s death from breast cancer in 2007 and her own diagnosis of the same disease just two weeks later) we see it as the brilliant decision that it is. It's "Carpe Diem" in its finest form; seizing the day when you are not sure what tomorrow and all the days after will bring. I cannot recommend this book highly enough; I’d give it more that five stars if I could. .
    Janga More than 1 year ago
    Eloisa James's memoir is, as the title indicates, a book about Paris, or at least about Paris as experienced by one American family during a sabbatical year spent in that city. It is filled with vignettes of the city’s landmarks, museums, and restaurants and of its homeless, its school children, its shop keepers. The memoir, again as suggested by the title, is also about love—love of family, friends, food, and fashion (in both the specific and larger senses of that word), as well as love of the city itself. It is, less obviously, a book about time—time spent, time wasted, and time cherished. I loved every page, and I have been enthusiastically recommending it to friends who share my delight in James's historical romances and to friends who never read romance but appreciate writing that is wise and warm and witty.
    52chickadees More than 1 year ago
    After Eloisa James had suffered the loss of her Mother to cancer, she was diagnosed with the horrific disease herself. Following a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, she came to the realization that she should live everyday to the fullest. It was with this awakening, that, among other gutsy undertakings, she starts planning and then executing a year of living in Paris, France with her family. This change of lifestyle included the sale of their home and, ultimately, the purchase of a new abode upon their return to the states. Eloisa and her Husband, Alessandro, each took a year of sabbatical leave from teaching—found an Italian School in Paris that their children; teen-aged Luca and elementary-school wild child; Anna could attend, and secured an older but elegant apartment in a neighborhood ripe with charming shops and interesting people. Among the new friends Alessandro met at the “Conversation Exchange” was a French gentleman named Florent, who wanted to learn Italian so he could woo a young waitress he had met in Tuscany. Alessandro was forever giving him hints on what to say to the lass to help his love life along. While I was reading this memoir,I felt like I was sneaking a peek into someone’s diary, as I would have preferred longer chapters encompassing the adventures and family life, rather than daily entries. I have learned a few things—I know I have had some “hinge moments”….I will NEVER order Calf’s head (with or without the Rooster’s cockscomb) …and I’m wondering why someone didn’t add a length of Velcro to poor Milo’s (the 27 lb. Chihuahua) raincoat?? ( The family would not have had to settle for the unimpressive clear raincoat! )…and chocolate, by any name is just as sweet. You will get some chuckles ( especially where Alessandro’s Mama; Marina, and the portly Milo are concerned) identify with some similar situations, no matter what country you’re in, and Ms. James has kindly included an unofficial guide to some of her unforgettable places in Paris. I have always enjoyed Ms. James’ romance novels and hope to again in the future—In the meantime, I applaud her courage and tenacity. Nancy Narma
    Big_ReaderSF More than 1 year ago
    I loved the brief stories. Many made me laugh. I wish there had been more, I didn't want her to go home!
    Keoweegirl More than 1 year ago
    Warm, witty and often amusing, PARIS IN LOVE chronicles a moment out of time. Actually, several moments. A whole year's full, in fact. Following the death of her mother and a cancer scare of her own, NY Times Bestselling author, Eloisa James ran away to Paris, France. Stepping away from their hectic life, she and her husband took sabbaticals from their university teaching positions, sold their house and cars, packed up their two children and rented an apartment in Paris for a year. Told in a series of short vignettes (that were originally Facebook status updates) interspersed with essays, PARIS IN LOVE takes you into the heart of this family; the triumphs, failures and lessons learned during their year abroad. It's educational, amusing, sometimes heartbreaking but always life affirming and an experience not to be missed. I highly recommend PARIS IN LOVE. ~PJ Ausdenmore The Romance Dish
    janeeyre01 More than 1 year ago
    Cannot understand why anyone would give this book anything less than a five star review. NY Times Best selling author Eloisa James AKA Mary Bly. She is an best seller as well as a Professor. Her husband and her took the year off moved the who family to Paris. As a fan of Eloisa I read facebook post while over there that had me rotf. This book is full of her time while in Paris. It is full of funny insights involving her children, pets, and Parisains. I gave it a 5 star because its great. I recommend you read with or without excerpt. If you more details before you buy it you can easily google Paris in Love and it will take you to her page..
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Try sample first rule of relocating is to live there off season where you can afford to live without buying or selling. Best in unfashionable area where the average citizen lives
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Je t'adore Paris, ergo, I would love this book? Answer is yea! A year in Paris is a smart sassy look at Paris through the eye if a true romantic, warts and all. And I was sad to see it end. The author and her Italian husband and two children pull up roots from Manhattan and move to Paris. she is dealing with the after effects of mastectomy, and gives herself permission to live, love and write in the City of Light. A memoir to savor.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A sweet frothy bonbon of a book -- served up in bite-size observations. Some about life in Paris, some about Paris, some about life. I thought this would be an ideal book to pick up and put down when I was busy, but I found myself caught up in James' sometimes funny and sometime thoughtful insights. Finally I admitted I couldn't read just one and sat down to savor the whole of this charming memoir.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    If you enjoy traveling & you've either been to Paris or dream of going one day, you must read. While flipping from one event to another with no notice, it was an easy read & made me want to jump in a plane & head to Paris!! A great lazy, weekend read!! Buy it!!
    Stone More than 1 year ago
    I have never read one of Eloisa's books before and I loved her wit and style of writing. I may read some of her romance books even though romance is not my genre. I didn't expect it to be short Facebook phrases but it was a great story nonetheless!
    SharonRedfern More than 1 year ago
    What a wonderful book this is! Eloisa James has written a memoir that is at times funny, romantic, and poignant. After a health crisis, she and her husband Allessandro both take a sabbatical from their respective teaching positions and move their family to Paris. The book is chock full of little vignettes of their life in France, adjusting to the cultural differences, finding their way around the city and even bridging the language issue. I particularly like the stories about her feisty daughter, Anna and her run- ins with a fellow classmate who eventually becomes her friend. There were so many interesting parts to the book. My heart felt sad when Ms. James wrote about a small museum of French historical treasures started by a local banker and later imparts the fact that the house was donated to the French government, his son died as a soldier for France and yet the entire family was shipped off to Auschwitz and never returned. The American in me loved that some of the highly touted French cuisine is in fact, not so good, but the description of most of the food is simply amazing. The markets, the stores, the buildings make one want to chuck it all and head to France. The stories of the homeless man living in a tent with two little trees as his enjoyment in life make you appreciate life here. I had a good laugh with the stories about Milo, the family’s part time Chihuahua who lives with Allesandro’s mother in Venice and weighs 27 pounds! Mostly, I enjoyed the everyday stories of a family adjusting to change and loving being together. I read most of this book while writing a complicated grant for the library where I work and I couldn’t wait to get home and start reading and feeling the stress just flow away with every page.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Enjoyed the book very much. It was easy reaading and very entertaining.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    In a word, "lovely." In another word, "wonderful." In yet another word, "enchanting." I could go on and on. This is one of those books that makes you smile as you read it. It also, of course, makes you want to book your trip on the next flight, and you do not want to see it end. It also makes you want to converse with the author, and, yes, you do laugh and cry. One of my favorite things about the book is the information she includes about the little, obscure museums that, no matter how many guidebooks you read, you would still be unaware of at least some of them. If you've ever been, are planning to go, or are just dreaming of going, it's a "must-read"--you'll be so very glad you read it--it'll bring you hours of pleasure while reading it and thereafter. It brought back wonderful memories, and I cannot wait to go again. Thank you, Ms. James for creating something magical--kudos to you!!!
    lizziefx More than 1 year ago
    I am just fascinated by people who up and move to Paris, and this book did not disappoint. At times I felt just like I was a member of the family. By the end I found myself wanting the family to stay longer in Paris so I could have more stories of their adventures.
    MamaLu More than 1 year ago
    This is a lighthearted, whimsical look at what happens when you pull up roots and head to a country where you don't speak the language. I have truly enjoyed the anecdotal style of the book and as one who has traveled abroad can appreciate the conundrums and conclusions.
    ZaBeth More than 1 year ago
    Have always wanted to move to Paris? Hated the idea of moving to Paris? Love to cook, or just love to eat? Are married with children, or without? Love to travel or hate it? Love dogs or detest them? Or if you know someone with a terminal illness or not, you’ll want to read "Paris in Love." Eloisa James, aka Mary Bly, a best-selling romance author and professor of Shakespearean literature details her year of living in Paris with her husband and two children. This memoir, written in Facebook-like tiny essays, chronicles their year living abroad with the same humor often found in her books, but also with a serious beauty that only a lover of books, literature, and language can bring to life on paper. I admit that I both laughed out loud, practically read it aloud to my husband, and cried during this year with James. James suffered her own cancer scare soon after her mother passed from the disease. This is not a memoir that focuses on illness. It is overstuffed with life. And learning to live with the hand that life deals you. You'll close the book understanding what life is REALLY about and hoping that you'll have just a slice of time in your lifetime comprised of what James has experienced. God Bless all who read it, and thank you James for writing a wonderful travel memoir that is so much more! PS: Be sure to go online to get a digital tour of James' favorite museums, restaurants, and shopping as she offers a wonderful selection of websites at the end of book.
    GGW More than 1 year ago
    I read this book very slowly because I didn't want it to end. It was truly like being there -- without the expense of paying rent.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I truly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to people.who are considering traveling to Paris ... or just need a "book vacation" from it all. As a mom who transitioned children the challenges my children went.through. The children in this story made the best out of big challenges and I thank them for sharing.. Ok for letting your mom share. Light, funny and yet encouraged me to rethink some of the way i walk through life! Cheers
    bambbles More than 1 year ago
    Every once in a while, I am up for a good memoir. When I heard that one of my favorite romance novel authors was publishing one, I immediately added it to my to be read shelf. Paris in Love, Eloisa writes in short paragraph like status and collects them seemingly chronologically to tell the story of her year abroad. There are also longer essays scattered about in a chapter header sort of fashion. The result is a wonderful journey through her and her family's year abroad that takes you out of whatever location you are and sets you down in Paris. I love the things she describes too: the way the horses on the carousel look, the windows in the subway, the laughing statues on the bridge. But what really drives this home for me is the family stories. They bring what could be a fantastical journey into Paris to the level of home cooking and math homework. So it's familiar while bringing you somewhere new. Overall, the book was a light-hearted read that was at times touchingly poignant. I feel like I would read anything that Eloisa wrote, even if it was a limerick on a bar napkin. If you enjoy memoirs with a splash of French travel and family shenanigans (oh! and a rotund dog) definitely check this one out. Who could say no to rotund dogs?
    JulieSchroeder More than 1 year ago
    An enchanting mosey through James's year in Paris as well as her relationships. By the end, I was touched, a little teary, & at the same time, smiling happily. Much like her blog posts and website entries, her humor and insights are present throughout this work. I hope her romance reader's will follow her into this personal foray--she's an amazing woman! Would that I could be as brave & take off for a year with my family—to anywhere! Kudos to Eloisa for living to the fullest, and then sharing it with us!
    dotland101 More than 1 year ago
    WONDERFUL.. DELIGHTFUL.. HILARIOUS...C'EST MAGNIFIQUE!! I have a bit of Eloisa James' books in my little library, read a few of them and like them all. This is the only non-romance I've ever read of Eloisa James' books... OMG!! I L-O-V-E IT!! This book is wonderful... delicious, colourful, delightful and soooooooooo hilarious. What a hoot!! I just love Anna, she's so funny without even trying, what an imp! Just love her, she made this book all the more, "alive." Every time I came across her name, never fail, she made me laugh so. This book is wonderful, it jogged and stirred my personal memories of Paris, long forgotten in the past for me. The chocolate (Boy! am I a sucker for good chocolate, and "dark" please), the French cuisine, places and people. This is not a tour guide book, but a wonderful story, an adventure and a dream fulfilled, a daring decision driven by life changing experience to up and moved her (American/Italian) family to live in a foreign country for a year, a love story of a place, Paris and her people of which we heard of but don't really know them or see them up close, here's your chance to tag along with Eloisa James and let her introduce you to Paris, and let Anna entertain you. Oh! Did I mention this is the cheapest way to go to Paris if you don't have a lot of $$$ right now? I have four words for you... go get this book. Vive La France. ;)
    C_C_Cedras More than 1 year ago
    I feel like we're friends, now! I have read, and in most cases RE-read, all of Eloisa James's novels. I follow her on Twitter and Facebook where she posts snippets of her real life with Alessandro, Luca and Anna (as well as the adorable dachshund, Lucy, who makes her appearance after the family's year-long sabbatical in Paris). So I felt like I had a sense of Eloisa (Mary) even before reading "Paris In Love"; however, her candid, poignant and frequently laugh-out-loud funny retelling of her family's life in France during a transitional year for Eloisa made me feel like I had visited Paris and spent time with a good friend. She shared recipes! I hated for it to end. Isn't that exactly what a memoir should accomplish? I'll add that the format incorporating Facebook posts Eloisa shared during that period should appeal to a social media-savvy audience who might not normally choose a memoir to read.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    LOVE this book. I don't usually read memoirs, but I'm a fan of everything written by Eloisa James so I took the chance - and absolutely loved it. Her funny, astute voice shines through, and I'm already planning my trip to Paris.