We'll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Memoir

We'll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Memoir

4.8 24
by Jennifer Coburn
     
 

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How her daughter and her passport taught Jennifer to live like there's no tomorrow

Jennifer Coburn has always been terrified of dying young. So she decides to save up and drop everything to travel with her daughter, Katie, on a whirlwind European adventure before it's too late. Even though her husband can't join them, even though she's nervous

Overview

How her daughter and her passport taught Jennifer to live like there's no tomorrow

Jennifer Coburn has always been terrified of dying young. So she decides to save up and drop everything to travel with her daughter, Katie, on a whirlwind European adventure before it's too late. Even though her husband can't join them, even though she's nervous about the journey, and even though she's perfectly healthy, Jennifer is determined to jam her daughter's mental photo album with memories—just in case.

From the cafés of Paris to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Jennifer and Katie take on Europe one city at a time, united by their desire to see the world and spend precious time together. In this heartwarming generational love story, Jennifer reveals how their adventures helped vanquish her fear of dying...for the sake of living.

"Brimming with joie de vivre!"—Jamie Cat Callan, author of Ooh La La! French Women's Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day

"Coburn proves as adept at describing the terrain of the human heart as she is the gardens of Alcázar or the streets of Paris."—Claire and Mia Fontaine, authors of the bestselling Come Back and Have Mother, Will Travel

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I'm profoundly in love with Jennifer Coburn's memoir We'll Always Have Paris! From Coburn's picture-perfect travelogue to her hilarious observations, she's woven together a powerful narrative with a heartfelt and thoughtful examination of what truly makes a family. I was enthralled from the very first page and I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I want to read this again, tell all my friends about it... and then renew my passport." - Jen Lancaster, NYT bestselling author of Bitter is the New Black, The Tao of Martha, and Here I Go Again

"This book touched me in a profound way. I lost my beloved father a short time ago and I have been ruminating about all the trips we never took together. Before my sisters and I were born, he traveled the world and regaled us with tales all through our childhood. We planned to see many of those same places together, but fate intervened in the form of marriage and a child of my own. In the end I can say that I am grateful that we shared so much time together and that his stories will always live on in me. Thank you Jennifer." - Cayocosta72

"We'll Always Have Paris reads like a sweet stroll through Europe with a funny friend who shares touching stories of her parent-child relationships. A great escape." - Janice MacLeod, author of Paris Letters

"We'll Always Have Paris is simply brimming with joie de vivre! From the very moment I embarked on Jennifer Coburn's delicious Paris memoir, I wanted to travel back in time to when my own daughter was eight years old, take her by the hand, and bring her to Paris for the adventure of a lifetime. Well, until I have a granddaughter, I have the next best thing--Jennifer Coburn's gorgeous story of love, family and the ties that bind. I am recommending this to all my friends and family and especially to my own daughter. It's simply fantastique!" - Jamie Cat Callan, author of Ooh La La! French Women's Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day

"Jennifer Coburn's We'll Always Have Paris takes us on two journeys. One is a trés entertaining mother/daughter travel tale in which Coburn brings their evolving relationship, and Europe, to life with such vibrance, humor and insight, it made us want to pack our bags and hit the road again tomorrow. She also takes us on an internal journey chronicling her deep love and longing for the adored hippie/musician father she lost to cancer as a teen. In passages powerful, tender and funny - often in one sentence - Coburn proves as adept at describing the terrain of the human heart as she does the gardens of Alcazar or the streets of Paris." - Claire and Mia Fontaine, authors of the bestselling Comeback and Have Mother, Will Travel

"We'll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Adventure is a funny, honest, sometimes kooky memoir by San Diegan Jennifer Coburn...to read the book is to experience Europe anew, and relive all the wonder that travel brings." - San Diego Magazine

"Jennifer's narration of their adventures is laugh-out-loud funny, warm and touching-I thought of Nora Ephron and Anna Quindlen." - Presidio Sentinel

"This poignant and very funny memoir chronicles their summers in cities like Paris, London, Barcelona and Amsterdam, where they overcome fears and challenges, journey off the beaten path and make mother-daughter memories that will last a lifetime — however long or short that may be." - Midlife at the Oasis

"What made the book especially riveting, though, is how Coburn interweaves the tales of their travels with memories of her late father. She deftly ties in themes from their experiences to memories from her childhood, and I marveled at how skilfully she wove together the joyful and the difficult strands of her past.

I shut the book and began dreaming about where I'd love to take my kids." - 4 Mothers 1 Blog

"Anyone can keep a travel journal but it takes a special talent for crafting an engaging travel story worthy of inviting others on the journey. We'll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Memoir by Jennifer Coburn is not a flowery travel memoir about eating croissants, sipping coffee in Parisian cafes, and wearing matching berets in Paris. It's a lesson in living life and well worth the read." - Solo Travel Girl

Library Journal
11/01/2014
Perfectly healthy Coburn has always been afraid of dying young. With the belief that she will die before her time, she decides to take her eight-year-old daughter, Katie, on a European adventure. The book chronicles their four trips from 2005 to 2008 across Europe and Granada. Mother and daughter learn to appreciate the time they have together as each misadventure brings them closer. (LJ 5/1/14)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402288630
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
04/08/2014
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
126,050
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

We'll Always Have Paris

A Mother/Daughter Memoir


By JENNIFER COBURN

Sourcebooks, Inc.

Copyright © 2014 Jennifer Coburn
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4022-8864-7



CHAPTER 1

PARIS


"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. In twenty minutes, we will be landing at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris where the local time is now 7:10 a.m.," a calm disembodied voice announced. Then the flight attendant repeated the information in French. At least I assumed she was repeating the information. For all I knew, she could have been saying, "On our flight this morning is a clueless American mother and her eight-year-old daughter who is counting on her to navigate their ten-day stay in the City of Lights. Good luck with that."

I looked at my fellow passengers, noticing I was the only one awake in the cabin, which always seemed to be the case on these red-eye flights. William was back home in San Diego flossing his teeth. In a few minutes, he would look at the clock beside our bed and realize that Katie's and my flight was landing. Twenty seconds later, he would be snoring. As a lifelong insomniac, I try to remember that he isn't purposely taunting me when he goes from sixty to snooze in less than a minute. Still, there are times at night when I stare at him in amazement, wondering how he can let go of consciousness so easily.

I heard the clap of lifting window shades and watched light pour into the cabin like spotlights onto a stage. Good night, William, I thought. Good morning, Paris.

Katie can sleep through earthquakes, so neither the noise nor the plummeting descent of the plane bothered her. Her brown hair was still pressed into her Eeyore neck pillow, and her white Stride Rite sandals were nestled in the space between our seats. Katie didn't even seem to notice when the flight attendant abruptly pressed the button that snapped her seat into its upright position. My daughter's delicate eyebrows lifted quizzically; she shifted her position slightly and continued sleeping.

"Katie," I whispered. "We're landing in a moment. You need to wake up." She blinked open her bleary green eyes, trying to register who I was, where we were, and what I was saying. "We'll be in Paris in a few minutes," I said, wondering if I sounded as relaxed as I hoped I did.

As the plane continued to land, I felt a slow panic rising.

Katie yawned. "Are you excited, Mommy?"

"Oh yes, Katie. I'm very, very excited," I replied, imitating the voice of a yoga instructor. "And how are you?"

"Good," she chirped.

I resisted the urge to say anything else, lest Katie know how absolutely, positively freaked out I was.

Weeks before we left, I asked Katie if she was looking forward to our trip. "Do you understand how lucky we are to be going to Paris? I mean, do you get it?" She was just finishing up second grade, and her teacher was very focused on the students' comprehension of the words they read. So Katie brought Mrs. Lunsford's lesson home.

"Well, Paris is the capital of France, and people say I'm lucky to be going, so I know it's special, but since I've never been there, I don't really understand why it's so great." Katie scrunched her mouth to the side, pondering the tough question. "So I understand it, but I guess I don't get it."


* * *

On the ground, I cursed my friend Maxime for telling me that Katie and I should take the train from Charles de Gaulle Airport, then delve into the Paris Metro system to find our hotel. "Eet ees easy," he told me weeks earlier as we sat at the Souplantation in San Diego. Easy for him because he is, in fact, French.

"Deed you study the vocabulary words I gave you last week?" He looked disappointed when I told him I hadn't. Sure, he was encouraging, always telling me my accent was très magnifique, but the French are known for being rather finicky about foreigners speaking their language imperfectly. The prospect of speaking French on their home turf was more than a bit intimidating. Maxime assured me that if I just gave it a try, they would appreciate my effort. "So," he continued, "all you know how to say ees what?"

"Hello, please, and thank you."

My friend sighed. "A writer with no words." Maxime began scribbling on a piece of paper. Writing the French words for "I have" and "I am," he begged me to try harder. He handed me a phrase book, which covered all of the basics, such as how to ask for directions, prices, and food. There was also a page on flirting. Here I was, a happily married mother on the cusp of middle age with an eight-year-old in tow. I hardly thought I'd need to know how to accept a man's dinner invitation. Still, I was charmed by the idea that pick-up lines were considered essential phrases in French. "How long will you be staying in Paris?" I read in French to my friend.

"Ooh la la," he said, raising his eyebrows. "You have a knack for languages," he told me.

"How can you say that? I only speak English," I reminded Maxime.

"I am a French teacher. I can tell when someone has the ear."

Weeks later, with my suitcase stuck in the Metro turnstile, I panicked. Katie tried to pull the case through, an effort that promptly left her on her behind. I remembered Maxime's notes in my purse and vaguely recalled that some words, like "problem," just needed a French accent to translate. "Please," I called out in French, "Je suis un problème." A group of maintenance men began laughing and rushed over to help. One smiled gently and corrected me. Apparently, in my haste, I'd mixed the phrases and announced to the commuters not that I have a problem, but that I am one. Was it possible to have a Freudian slip in a foreign language?

Katie and I exited the station and stood on the grim-looking sidewalk. With a steely ceiling of overcast, this was not the Paris I had envisioned. People rushed past us, mainly tourists with maps in hand and a few locals heading to work. No one wore a beret; no one was painting at an easel. I knew it was naïve to expect such a threshold into Paris, but I'd hoped for something a bit more visually appealing.

I stood frozen, staring at my map without a clue of which direction to walk. An elderly woman wearing a floral scarf on her head noticed that Katie and I looked lost and stopped to ask if we needed help. I shot her a pathetic look and handed her a piece of paper with the address of our hotel written on it. She grabbed my hand and patted it. "Ees close. I take you there." I heard my mother's voice warning me not to fall prey to kidnappers who would sell Katie and me into slavery, but I was pretty certain we could outrun this woman. My eyes darted in search of vans with blackened windows, but I saw none. Three blocks later, she delivered us to our hotel, kissed both of my cheeks and pinched Katie's. She said something to us in French that sounded warm and buttery.

"Mrs. Poltorak told me that French people were snooty, but I think they're really nice," Katie said, recalling the student at the airport who helped us buy train tickets and the father who commanded his sons to carry our suitcases up the Metro steps.

This was one of the many reasons I brought Katie overseas. I wanted her to experience different places and people and make her own assessments. I mentally checked the box with this life lesson jotted beside it. We had been in France for less than two hours and already my child had learned something: don't listen to Mrs. Poltorak.

I also felt that taking Katie abroad young would give her greater confidence to travel on her own someday. When my friend Laura invited me to visit her in Rome for a month during summer break in high school, I declined. The language was different. I didn't understand the money exchange. It seemed overwhelming. If Katie started traveling young, she wouldn't find international travel intimidating. She would never doubt her ability to navigate her way through the world the way I still did.

The concierge at our hotel told me that our room was not ready yet and asked if we could return in an hour. My body felt like it was midnight, and yet the clock on the wall insisted it was nine in the morning. Okay. I steeled myself. One more hour. Sixty more minutes and then even I would have no problem falling asleep. Katie shrugged and said she was fine. She'd slept on the plane and only felt "a little floopy." I, on the other hand, hadn't slept a minute, and I felt as though I had been whacked on the head with a brick and the ground had transformed into a giant waterbed.

Soon Katie and I were seated at a small, round table in a café with textured black and mocha striped wallpaper and funky hot pink chandeliers. Small black-and-white photos with gold rococo frames graced the walls with an unevenly chic flair. A bored brunette wearing capri pants and five-inch stilettos handed us menus, saying nothing. Her pouty lips conveyed that she hoped to be Europe's next supermodel, but until then she would deign to serve coffee.

"What does this mean?" Katie asked, pointing to the menu. It was a picture of a coffee mug with steam coming off the top. Beside the image were French words, including chocolat. I confidently announced that it was hot chocolate and suggested we each have one and share a croissant. Inside, though, a certain reality sunk in: this child trusted that I knew what I was doing. She thought I understood what things meant and how they worked. I was the adult here. That couldn't be good.

Desperately wanting to assure Katie that I was in control of the situation, I boldly thanked our coltish server. "Merci, mademoiselle," I said as she set down our cups.

Fuck you, appeared to be her reply. Body language always translates perfectly.

Twenty minutes later, I got my second dose of reality. Katie and I walked to the Tuileries Gardens and spotted a Ferris wheel. Taking a ride seemed like a fun, carefree thing to do, but it had the opposite effect on me. As the cart rose, the Eiffel Tower came into view. I gasped, not with joy, but sheer terror. This was not a photo of the Eiffel Tower; it was the real deal. We were unquestionably, undeniably, irreversibly in Paris. What had I done?

What did you think was going to happen when you got on a plane to Paris? Of course the Eiffel Tower is here; of course the menus are in French. What part of this is unexpected?

By the time Katie and I arrived back at our hotel, it was two in the morning San Diego time. On the way from the café, I managed to get thoroughly lost, and our grandmotherly guide was nowhere to be found. When we finally arrived at the hotel, we rode up a small elevator, and I held onto the wall for balance. The bellman opened our door, showed us in, and I promptly ran to the toilet and vomited, then collapsed on the bathroom floor. As I was throwing up, I worried that the bellman was annoyed that I hadn't tipped.

Katie rubbed my back and suggested that we take a nap. My eyes were filled with tears and my nose was running from the violent return of breakfast. Feeling the cool tiles of the bathroom floor pressed against my cheek, I hoped to God that the maid service was thorough. "It's going to be okay, Mommy," Katie offered. "I have a good feeling about this trip. I know we're going to have a lot of fun."

"You do?"

She smiled and nodded.

"Based on this?"


* * *

I used to comfort my mother in the same way when we were living in a studio apartment in Greenwich Village in the seventies. My parents, Carol and Shelly, had the most amicable split in the history of divorce. Even after their break-up, my father drove my mother to events in whatever five-hundred-dollar car he owned at the moment. My favorites were the tomato red Ford Pinto that demanded chilled water every few hours and the mustard yellow AMC Gremlin with cardboard floor mats. He named the first vehicle Princess Ragu, which was also his pet name for my mother because of her highbrow aspirations. In turn, my mother tolerated him bathing in our tub when the water was shut off in whatever shithole apartment he was currently renting.

As my mother describes it, during their brief marriage, my dad just wanted to get high, stare at the fish tank, and have rambling philosophical conversations with other musicians. My mother, on the other hand, wanted to go to the ballet, finish her degree at NYU, and put down wall-to-wall carpet. Each confided in me that the other was a genuinely good person, but a little bit crazy. Both were right.

Though my mother landed a secretarial job almost immediately after the divorce, the move to our new apartment left her short on funds. She always said that if my father had a million dollars, he'd give us $950,000 of it, then blow his fifty grand on drugs. The problem was that my father never had more than a thousand dollars to his name, and my mother was worried about the rent. After I'd go to bed, I could hear her weeping at the kitchen table. At the sight of her six-year-old daughter, my mother stifled her tears, embarrassed she had been caught. "Don't worry, Mommy," I told her. "I'm going to help." Far from comforting her, my declaration only made her feel worse, though at the time I couldn't understand why.

The next day, I set out a blanket in front of the Quad Cinema across the street from our apartment building and sold everything I deemed unnecessary in our home. I got a dime for a copy of The Stepford Wives, fifty cents for our salt and pepper shakers, and three dollars for a pair of my mother's leather boots. I sold half-filled bottles of alcohol to the three winos who lived in the doorway across the street. A nice woman discreetly advised me against selling my mother's diaphragm.

My mother quietly accepted the money I earned, but the effects echoed through our apartment for months as she would notice things missing. "Where are the ..." she would begin to ask before remembering that I had sold the teacups. It was years before we ever had a full set of dishes. It was even longer before I witnessed her shed a tear again.

The week after my gypsy garage sale, basking in oblivious pride, I informed my mother that I had earned forty dollars selling raffle tickets in our building. "Jennifer, honey," my mother said tentatively, "what kind of prize are you planning to give away for this raffle?" When I looked at her quizzically, she explained that I couldn't just sell raffle tickets. There needed to be a drawing and a prize as well. I assured her she was wrong; no one had asked a thing about a prize. She insisted we go to the five-and-dime, buy a glass figurine, and give it to someone who had purchased a ticket. Since there were no ticket stubs, I had to draw from memory. We delivered a frosted glass swan to the guys in apartment 2G.

The following week, my mother and I were walking through Times Square when I noticed a skeletal black man in a green fedora engaging a crowd. A dozen people gathered around his table fashioned from a cardboard box, watching his fluid hands move three cards around the surface. The cards, all face down, were switched from one spot to the next and then another. The man's voice was hypnotic, promising that players who kept track of the queen of hearts would win fifty dollars. It looked so easy. The payoff was huge. "Let's play!" I urged my mother who held my hand tight.

"No one ever wins that game," my mother explained. "At the end of the day, that guy walks off with everyone's money."

I turned to her eagerly. "Then let's watch how he does it!"

"We're going to be late," my mother clipped and quickened her pace. As we turned the corner, she smiled brightly. "Did I mention that I got a raise at work?"

"You did?!"

"Yes, a very big raise, so I've got us covered from here."


* * *

Katie and I woke up fresh and ready to take on Paris. Unfortunately it was 11:00 p.m. We went downstairs to get dinner, but because we had been so lost earlier, my confidence was low. I was determined to stay within a block of our hotel. On the street corner, a woman who looked to be at least a thousand years old with a humped back greeted Katie and me. Her chin sprouted hair and her nose looked like a pickle. She wore a black hooded cape and held out knobby fingers that were made for delivering poisoned apples. I had no idea what she was saying, but she was clearly begging for money. She was telling her story with dramatic flair, her voice fluctuating brilliantly for effect. She wept; she beat her own chest.

I wondered where her breaking point was. Had she been born into the life of a street urchin and never managed to escape? Or did she once live on a quiet street and host ladies' bridge games? What went wrong? My heart beat faster with the realization that most of us were a few strokes of bum luck away from her fate. This woman was a few bad weeks away from the grave.

"Give her some money," Katie said, breaking my trance. "Stop staring and give her some money."

"Oh, right, of course," I jolted, then reached for my wallet.

The old woman thanked us with even more drama. She beat her chest again and moaned with gratitude.

After a few steps, Katie broke the silence. "That was really sad."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from We'll Always Have Paris by JENNIFER COBURN. Copyright © 2014 Jennifer Coburn. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Jennifer Coburn is a USA Today best selling author of six novels and contributor to four literary anthologies. Over the past two decades, Coburn has received numerous awards from the Press Club and Society for Professional Journalists for articles that appeared in Mothering, Big Apple Baby, The Miami Herald, The San Diego Union-Tribune and dozens of national and regional publications. She has also written for Salon.com, Creators News Syndicate and The Huffington Post.

Coburn lives in San Diego with her husband, William, and their daughter, Katie. We'll Always Have Paris is her first memoir.

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We'll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Memoir 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This mother and daughter adventure was a delightful escape from my everyday world.  With wit and biting charm,  Jennifer reminds us about what really matters.  You won't be disappointed when you choose to travel with Jennifer and Katie to explore Paris.
Bookworm1951 More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable. The title leads you to believe that it's just about their trip to Paris; however, it's scope is much broader. Approximately half the book is about the mother's past and her relationship with her now deceased father. The travel memoirs span several countries throughout the years - not just Paris. Well written and edited. Nice easy read. Something great for a rainy day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jen's books are always fun, but this is her best so far. The memoir has aspects that resonated with me as a traveler, as a mom, and as a lover of a good story. She captures the ups and downs of traveling with a child with insight and humor... the fun, the exhaustion, the adventures that came from what, in hindsight, weren't the best decisions. If you've ever traveled, or wanted to travel, with your children then you'll enjoy this romp through emotions and adventures as you accompany Jen on her travels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reading the introduction had me alternately laughing, crying, and reflecting, already... and the book only got better from there! This is a look inside a mother's mind that has much to offer - even to us non-moms - as we all grapple with who we are and what's best to do with the life we are given. A fun read that is entertaining, poignant, witty, and profound. The more you get to know Jennifer, Katie, and William, the more time you'll want to spend with them. Pick up the book, and see.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a delightful book about the tough and not so tough choices we make everyday as parents all wrapped up in a trip to Paris. With great humor, it describes the joys and challenges of parenting, the nagging concerns about one's ability to parent well, as well as the reflection and appreciation for one's own parents. A must read for parents and non-parents as well as those who love to travel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We'll Always have Paris is a charming and adventurous true story of a mom and her young daughter experiencing several summers of travel in Europe.  Through Jennifer's humorous, insightful and descriptive moments, one explores the environs of Amsterdam, breathes  in the aromas of Italy, the excitement of Spain and the wonders of Paris.  It also blends her wit and keen ear for dialogue with poignant flashback tie-ins of Jennifer's early years with her own mother and of sharing time with her musician father and his ill-fated connection with  his drug of choice.  I was more than drawn in by her honesty, introspection and assessment of life's challenges, from childhood into the  present.   I truly wanted the last page to read:  "to be continued" for at that point, I was craving the next chapter, for as we know, life is a  journey, after all.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read several of Jennifer Coburn’s fiction novels and couldn’t wait for this next round of impending belly-laughs. To my surprise, one of the first emotions I experienced was a deeply profound connection with Jennifer as a mother. Different from her Chick-Lit adventures, this memoir touches on the insecurities we feel about “doing it right”, our fear of time moving too fast and out of our control, and yes, of course the humor, that comes from being a mom in this day and age. Like the roller coasters Jennifer describes enjoying with her father on Coney Island, this book took me on a ride from snorting giggles one moment to tear-filled eyes the next with few paragraphs in between. Jennifer shows the reader her anxieties about everything from motherhood to being an adept traveler in a foreign land to worrying about not measuring up as a daughter to two eccentric, yet seemingly inspiring and loving parents. At times, her travels mirror the stories of her parents’ actual, and sometimes unfulfilled, histories and challenge her to accept life as it comes, as difficult as that often proves to be. Her daughter, Katie, serves as a calming (and hilarious) influence that help Jennifer overcome some of her fears: an early death, loss of control and even veering from her carefully (perhaps obsessively) planned itineraries. What I took away from this book was an unquenchable desire to plan a European adventure with my own daughters and to never pick up another cigarette, again. Thank you, Jennifer, for that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jennifer Coburn, you had me at "Paris." In the introduction to this engaging memoir, Jennifer remarks that she has "never heard anyone talk about Paris without sighing." I'm no exception. As a francophile and lover of memoir, I was delighted to receive an advance review copy. Jennifer was still in her teens when she lost her father, and, she writes, has spent her adulthood "checking my rear-view mirror to see if the Grim Reaper is tailgaiting." Despite excellent health, she was convinced she too would die young, so was determined to jam-pack her daughter Katie's mental scrapbook with beautiful mother-daughter memories. To that end, she and her daughter spent several summer vacations traveling overseas. I suspect many of us will recognize ourselves in this description: "I don't need to be this happy at once, I thought. Can't I save some for later? A better part of me admonished that I should enjoy the experience now and stop searching for life's doggie bags." In thoughtful, frequently hilarious detail, Jennifer writes about letting go of that fear of death and learning how to enjoy her life. "Katie instinctively knew what I had struggled my entire life to grasp," she says. "And I still hadn't gotten it. Eluding me was the ability to focus on what I had, rather than what I had lost or could lose." A meditation on the meaning of family and memory, this funny, poignant memoir will have you reaching for your own passport.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not since Marjorie Hart's New York Times bestselling Summer at Tiffany have I been completely and utterly charmed by a memoir. Jennifer Coburn's We'll Always Have Paris is a wonderful travelogue of her adventures to Europe with daughter Katie over a span of about eight years. After Jennifer's father died when she was only 17, Jennifer feared that she, too, would succumb at an early age, so when she had her own daughter, Katie, Jennifer vowed to make the most of whatever time they would have together. And that's exactly what she set out to do with travels to Europe, starting and ending in Paris. Jennifer's smart, observant, heartfelt, humorous and, yes, slightly neurotic, memoir will make you laugh, cry, and give thanks every day. You may not always have Paris, but Jennifer reminds us that you should!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing! The Author fused the storyline of herself and her daughter going on adventures together with the storyline of her father and her younger self very well. I found it reaffirming as a mother to follow her through her journey first as someone's daughter then through her own experience of motherhood. I appreciated being able to bear witness to her honest and hilarious report of her own trials and tribulations, relating to the emotion, and watching her grown through the book as the memories she makes with her daughter slowly make her "baggage" seem less heavy. Truly a good read.
JillGHall More than 1 year ago
This is the funniest memoir I've ever read! It takes a lot to get me to laugh and I couldn't stop. I felt as if I was traveling through Europe with this delightful mother-daughter duo.
cspeciale More than 1 year ago
I liked this book for so many reasons. First, having a daughter myself, I identified with the desire to fill my daughter with wonderful memories . Second, the travel and adventures they take are so interesting and sentimental. The back story of her Father of course made me think about my own late Father and agree with the author's perspective. I would definitely recommend this book.
TKGSD More than 1 year ago
A far broader memoir than the title or many blurbs suggest, this stands alongside favorites from David Sedaris, especially when he's walking the line between hilarious and poignant. Yes, it is in part a mother/daughter, cafes and cathedrals chronicle with all the thrilling, awkward, funny episodes of foreign travel. But those anecdotes are only the half of it. As Coburn recounts their time together, she mixes in stories of her relationship with her own parents and the loss at an early age of her struggling musician father. These memories also have plenty of humor but also great pain, and they give the pair's travels an emotional undercurrent that deepens with each flashback. Coburn deftly interweaves the storylines and paces her revelations so that the book often reads like a novel. She describes some landmarks they visit in detail, others barely at all, but no matter - countless books cover those. The journey shared here is one toward a deeper understanding of family bonds and living in the moment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in and orders a kids meal then goes to a table
DancingNancy5 More than 1 year ago
This is a great travel memoir and clearly was cathartic for the author, to work through her issues with her father and ensure it did not control her own life. I started it thinking it was the usual "I'm having a great time in Paris" book, and it turned out to be much, much more. Finished it a few days, and already have passed it over to my daughter, who devoured it. Read this book if you are a mother, if you have a daughter and if you are working through an issue with a parent. That covers just about everyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book! I highly recommend "We'll Always Have Paris". It is a bright and engaging read that details he authors ' experiences as she travels through Europe with her daughter. The book delivers the message about what is truly important. The author chose lasting memories with her daughter over home improvements. Eventually a new kitchen will become dated, but "We'll Always Have Paris". 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With her customary wit and breezy style, Coburn regales readers with tales of her romps through Paris, London, and other European capitals, her daughter by her side. Their escapades will have you laughing out loud. But this is more than a lighthearted travelogue. Beneath the humor are explorations of a deeper kind, as Coburn grapples with what it means to be a daughter, a mother, and a human being facing her own mortality. "We’ll Always Have Paris" is a heartwarming and rewarding read.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Jennifer Coburn’s travels with her daughter, Katie, are fueled by the desire to avidly appreciate every moment one has, while one has it.  The loss of her father, Sheldon Coburn, is the source of her fear of losing to death and of an unspoken ambivalence about his life.  For he chose to immerse himself in smoking and pot and a free lifestyle that caused his young demise; although he tried to be all he could be to Jennifer, she perhaps didn’t really “get” his message of grasping every moment for its special qualities, a gift.  She and Katie are now, without both realizing it initially, on the journey to “get it!” Throughout this memoir, they travel through Europe, to Paris, Italy, Spain, England and Amsterdam.  Sometimes they do the tour thing, usually with disappointing results, but their best moments are had in totally unexpected ways that are funny, poignant, frustrating, precious, and deeply memorable.   Yes, they are the victims of scams, meet some nasty hotel personnel, get motion sickness on planes and trains, sleep in a famous “Shakespeare” room that is more like a New York City shelter full of homeless people, cope with skyrocketing temperatures, get caught up in the Italian version of a train strike, and other not so fun events but they handle them with humor and their “European shrug of shoulders” manner. However, there are innumerable beautiful moments when they visit museums full of gorgeous art they fall in love with, climb up the Eiffel Tower, listen to opera and symphony concerts in Vienna, meet a famous actress on their trip from Europe to London, eat at simple but delicious restaurants and bakeries, walk along the banks of rivers and streams in every country, and so much more that carries the essence of this mother-daughter journey! Interspersed into these descriptions are the memories Jennifer shares about her father’s life, from its early beginning as a briefly famous musician and singer to his eventual coping with his lung cancer and death.  One senses Jennifer trying to understand his life, and therefore her own, as she shares these memories, treasuring the moments she had with him and yet somehow finding something elusive about him as well.  Somehow her husband, William, captures it best toward the end of the account, but we must wait for that wisdom until she is ready to really “get it.”  The tone and style of this memoir is so comfortable, relaxed, honest, raw and beautiful that words themselves feel elusive to grasp the very heart of this MUST read book.  The reader is touched not only by each step of this heart-warming story that shows this author’s best writing to date.  Highly recommended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy a "travel guide", but We'll Always Have Paris turned out to be so much more!   Jennifer Coburn beautifully paints the feel and magnificence of the sights, sounds, and feelings of the villages and cities, but what I really liked was the flash backs to her past and her memories of her father.  Having recently lost my father, I could identify with her internal feelings of loss and appreciation for the relationship she had with her father.   I also loved how she described her interactions with her daughter.   Thank you Jennifer for allowing us to join you on the journey to Europe.  I can't wait to your her next book.
ChardonLorrain More than 1 year ago
Jennifer Coburn's new book "We'll always have Paris" recounts her trips through Paris, Italy and Spain with her young daughter. Touching, heart-breaking at times as we learn to know her relationship with her dad, who died at the age of 49, through flashbacks, very funny at other times. Reading this book is, most of the time, like breathing laughing gas while reading comic books. I laughed out loud and imagined these two gals (mother and young daughter) treading their ways through Paris and places in Italy and Spain. Jennifer making fun of her own insecurities, while still hopping on trains, buses, faking accents, playing charades when unable to find the correct words, etc... I so totally enjoyed this book. Great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Abandoned More than 1 year ago
This is the most negative book about something that should be happy. I had to stop reading because everytime they encountered a new city, something was wrong with it or bad about it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Take a sit and dine at the Cafe