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A Town Like Paris: Falling in Love in the City of Light

Overview

At the age of twenty-eight, stuck in a dead-end job in London, and on the run from a broken heart, Bryce Corbett takes a job in Paris, home of l’amour and la vie boheme; he is determined to make the city his own—no matter how many bottles of Bordeaux it takes. He rents an apartment in Le Marais, the heart of the city’s gay district, hardly the ideal place for a guy hoping to woo French women. He quickly settles into the French work/life balance with its mandatory lunch hour and six weeks of paid vacation. Fully ...
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Town Like Paris: Falling in Love in the City of Light

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Overview

At the age of twenty-eight, stuck in a dead-end job in London, and on the run from a broken heart, Bryce Corbett takes a job in Paris, home of l’amour and la vie boheme; he is determined to make the city his own—no matter how many bottles of Bordeaux it takes. He rents an apartment in Le Marais, the heart of the city’s gay district, hardly the ideal place for a guy hoping to woo French women. He quickly settles into the French work/life balance with its mandatory lunch hour and six weeks of paid vacation. Fully embracing his newfound culture, Corbett frequents smoky cafes, appears on a television game show, hobnobs with celebrities at Cannes, and attempts to parse the nuances behind French politics and why French women really don’t get fat. When he falls in love with a Parisian showgirl, he realizes that his adopted city has become home.

As lively and winning as Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French, A Town Like Paris evokes the beauty, delights, and charms of Paris for an ever-eager audience of armchair travelers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Corbett excels in self-deprecating humor and laugh-out-loud funny observations.”--Sunday Mail

‘Fast-paced and amusing, told with rollicking good humor . . . Corbett writes wittily and accurately about Paris, not glossing over the rough patches and the mysteries.”--Sun Herald

Joshua Hammer
a refreshing variation on a shopworn theme: the Anglophone at large in the French capital, coping with the language barrier, inaccessible Gallic women and bad plumbing.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Australian journalist Corbett offers a humorous and vivid account of his love affair with Paris. In an attempt to save his nine-year relationship with his high school sweetheart, Corbett follows her from Sydney to London. His efforts prove ineffectual and the two break up within weeks of his arrival. On a whim, 28-year-old Corbett applies for the position as head of public relations for a government organization based in Paris. Although he has little PR experience-or interest in the job itself-he is offered and accepts the position, living the French belief that people should work to live and not live to work. Corbett balances his boring formal office life with various exploits involving nightly debauchery. As an expatriate, his experiences with the French government, the French Plumber's Union and the various crazies who make up his Le Marais neighborhood are entertaining. As Corbett adjusts to the city-language barrier and cultural differences included-he makes friends, enjoys the food and eventually falls in love with a woman named Shay. Corbett's comically insightful observations of the French, along with his Aussie interpretations of joie de vivre, make for an amusing memoir. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Almost on a whim, Corbett, an Australian working in London for Sky News, answers a job posting for a director of communications at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris. To his surprise, he gets the job. So he moves to Paris, where he spends the next few years working a little, partying a lot, playing in a locally successful rock band, traveling, hanging out with showgirls and other ex-pats, and coping with French bureaucracy. Although this is not a guide, anyone attracted to working in Paris will be interested in Corbett's sketches of finding an apartment, French work life (short days, long employer-paid lunches, numerous holidays), scooter riding in heavy traffic, odd medical care, and the revelation that all French women are thin and stylish and all French men are short, smelly, and unattractive. That last observation notwithstanding, Corbett opines that French women are really all thin because of the nervous energy they expend worrying that their husbands are cheating on them. After six years, Corbett finds himself caught between Paris and Australia, not really belonging to either yet needing both. This memoir by a carousing Aussie ex-pat is entertaining, but less partying may have led to more insight. Recommended for larger public libraries.
—Melissa Stearns

Kirkus Reviews
The book your mildly funny co-worker dreams of quitting his job to write. Corbett, a dissatisfied young Australian gossip columnist, had always fantasized about living in Paris. Instead, he found himself broke in London, loathing the fog and, after two years, still trying to get over the failed relationship that brought him there. So when he saw an ad for a job in Paris, he applied, even though he was "hopelessly underqualified." To his surprise, he was hired. He found an apartment, witnessed a Parisian couple copulating before an unshuttered window, and suddenly his heart was no longer his own. The rest of the memoir is devoted to his burgeoning love affair with the city, along with some stabs at human romance. While Corbett's exuberance is winning and his writing competent, his adventures are standard guidebook fare. He presents unforgivably unimaginative insights and nicknames with the expectation of belly laughs: His circle of expat friends is the "Paris Posse"; he dubs a fellow gym-goer "the Freak," because she's weird; and one of the objects of his adoration is "the Showgirl," because . . . she's a showgirl. The author fails to devote enough time to the few truly amusing episodes, as when he contracted crabs, apparently without sexual contact of any kind, and had to visit a series of insensitive, unbelieving or hard-of-hearing medical professionals. Also quite funny is his account of being coerced into appearing on a French-language game show. A sense of shame prevents him from giving anything but a summary account of the proceedings, but the reactions he describes from those who saw the show indicate it must have been memorable. More episodes like this would have greatly improvedhis uneven, mostly uninspired book. Reads like an extended junior year abroad. Agent: Faye Bender/Faye Bender Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767928175
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,372,079
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

BRYCE CORBETT is an Australian journalist and former newspaper gossip columnist living in Paris. He worked in London for two years, including at The Times, and has written for a variety of international publications including People, Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2008

    A reviewer

    A Town Like Paris must rank as one of the most pointless books I have ever read. The advertising makes out that Bryce Corbett has a fantastic adventure in France, learns the culture and eventually marries a dancer in a Paris cabaret. The truth is not so exotic or adventurous. He goes to Paris as a bored bureaucrat, admits that he has maybe one French friend and his wife is Australian. The worst of the many faults with A Town Like Paris is the boredom it induces. Corbett's 'adventures' are quite dull. He explains nothing about Paris that I didn't already know or couldn't find in a Lonely Planet guidebook. He has so little to say about the city that he has to resort to writing about his family and some old cliches about Australia, such as the notion that we are obsessed with renovation and Aussie men can't express emotion. When you realise that the many chapters on Australia are based on cliches from the 1980s you have to think that what Corbett says about Paris is just as unoriginal. Then there is the fact that Corbett happily says he is a conniving person. He provides plenty of examples of the way he is just in it for himself. The reader is expected to believe that such a selfish person would write an honest account of his experiences. I have serious doubts that is the case. To top it all off the writing is bland and inelegant. Which is only fitting for a book that scores very low when it comes to class and style.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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