My Top 5 Books Set In Paris

I’m addicted to Paris. There, I said it.

Around six year ago, my best friend and I decided to travel to Paris, this was my first ever real visit to the city (I’d previously stopped off for a ten minute break while en route to Spain) and the beginning of my obsession. Once I was home I missed Paris more than I can explain so I decided to pretend I was still there by living through books, soon I realised I’d read quite a few books set in Paris and I thought I’d share my favourites.

 

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barberyimages

I wasn’t sure about this book when I first picked it up. It ticked a box by being set in Paris but I’d seen a number of mixed reviews, it seemed some people loved it and some people hated it. The book is translated from French and follows Renée, a concierge for an elite Paris apartment block, who is seen to be fat, lazy and addicted to TV by the residents of the block. In reality Renée is well cultured and actually loves philosophy and art. Paloma is a resident, a twelve year old genius who plans to kill herself on her thirteenth birthday. The two form an unlikely friendship, they both hide their true selves from the world and this forms a strong bond between the pair.

When I first went in to read this, I was worried that the book would be pretentious and boring. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I fell in love with Paloma instantly and cared about her more than I’d cared about a fictional character in a long time. The story was charming and the bond between the two characters was heart-warming.

 

A Week in Paris – Rachel Hore22845483

A romance novel set in Paris during the war? Sounds like everything I’ve ever needed from a book.

It was. Hore’s A Week in Paris was everything I look for in a book.

Fay was born on the day WWII started but she can’t remember the first five years of her life, she has a photograph of her dad but again she cannot recall him, she only knows what people have told her, that he died in an air raid. On a trip to Paris with her orchestra, Fay feels a bond with the city and a feeling she has been there before. She sets out on a quest to learn more about her mother’s past and her own childhood.

I honestly can’t recommend this book enough. The story was beautiful and seeing a young mother struggle to keep her child safe during WWII was endearing. Before I started the read I assumed it was your typical chic lit read but after a few chapters I realised it was much more than that. It was an enjoyable read and I would tell any of my friends to read it. I laughed and cried all the way through.

 

An Officer and a Spy – Robert Harris18007532

This was the first book I read by Harris and instantly I knew I loved his writing. An Officer and a Spy follows Georges Picquart, an ambitious officer who has just been promoted to head of counterespionage. Picquart has been pivitol in the case against Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer, convicted of treason. At first Picquart is sure of Dreyfus’ guilt but as things progress he realises it may not be as black and white as he thought.

This is based on a true story and after reading I was surprised by how easy I found it to read. At times I cried and at times I rejoiced but in the end I came out feeling like I’d read about an important part of history and was better off for it.

 

Sleeping with Paris – Juliette Sobanetparis

Charlotte has everything she’s dreamed of. She’s a French teacher with her dream of moving to Paris to study at the Sorbonne University with the love of her life, merely  days away. Then she finds her finacee’s secret online dating profile along with the messages he’s been sending to a beautiful redhead and her life is thrown into turmoil. Charlotte confronts the situation and decides to move to Paris alone where she can forget her past and embark on a new adventure.

Now I loved this story, this was the first book that really made me want to move to Paris. I loved seeing Paris through Charlotte’s eyes and you could tell that the author loved Paris just as much as I did, if not more. The story and the characters felt real from the beginning, I felt Charlotte’s struggles and I felt her love for the city and the new friends.

And can we just take a second to appreciate Luc… Perfect fictional man alert!

 

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris – Jenny Colgan17618928

Now this is the biggest chic lit novel on the list. Anna works in a chocolate factory in England and she loves her job but after an accident at work she finds herself jobless and very upset. While recovering in hospital Anna meets Claire who helps to teach Anna French during their time in hospital. To help Anna recover, emotionally and physically, Claire offers to help Anna out, she puts her in touch with an old friend from Paris who offers Anna a job in their chocolate factory. Anna soon finds out that Parisian chocolate factories are a lot different than English and she realises that Paris might be everything she needs.

This story was beautifully written, I’d previously read a Colgan book before but struggled to get into it. This time however I was hooked within a few pages. The description of Paris was beautiful and after reading, all I wanted to do was run around those cobbled streets with an attractive Frenchman on my arm.

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All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr (Book Review)

All the Light We Cannot See was recommended to me by a friend, now said friend has always given me great book recommendations and up until this book, the books he’s told me to read have been 5/5 stars. This was the first book that didn’t follow that trend.download (3)

When I was told about All the Light We Cannot See, I was told it’s set during WWII and follows a blind girl who lives in Paris and whose father works at the Museum of Natural History. So fat it had all the makings of my perfect book so I checked out Goodreads. On there I found constant five star reviews, in fact I struggled to find anything less so I downloaded it to my Kindle and started to read.

Now I’ll say that I didn’t hate the book, in fact it was enjoyable but I just didn’t love it. The story follows two main characters, Marie-Laure, a blind girl who is brought up in Paris by her father. She spends most of her days curled up behind his desk, in the Museum of Natural History, reading a book or asking questions about the displays. Our second protagonist is Werner, a blonde haired, blue eyed orphan brought up in a mining town in Germany. When the war starts both Marie-Laure and Werner’s lives change forever.

The story itself was clever, I loved the fact that small things in the beginning of the book became big connections by the end and I loved how everything intertwined. My main issue is that I sometimes found it boring. The story focused on our two main protagonists and with that we found out a lot about their childhoods and how what they loved developed who they became. I liked this in theory but in practise I found the constant references to radios and snails, a little boring.

I did love some of the characters; in the beginning I loved Marie-Laure. Losing her sight didn’t make her wallow; instead it made her determined and strong. I loved her when she was a child and how she learned to live with her loss of sight and remain happy. As the book progressed I learned that Werner was my favourite. I was amazed by how he grew as a character and slowly learned how to become a better person.

The supporting characters were also well written, Marie-Laure’s uncle Etienne was by far my favourite, his fear to leave the house since the war and his love for Marie-Laure was heart-warming to me. On top of this, Von Rumple was a great villain while Frau Elena and Jutta gave the book a realistic a homely feel.

This all sounds great, right? So why didn’t I love it? Well in the end I didn’t care about any of the characters outcomes except for perhaps Etienne. While reading I loved each character and wanted the best for them but by the end I felt like I’d learned all there was to learn and if everyone had of died, I don’t think I would have cared.

I also found the writing style hard to follow at times, I had previously read A Court of Mist and Fury with a really easy to follow writing style then I went on to this. I found the style pretentious at times and for the first ten chapters I hated the book. In the beginning I felt like the book was written for the sole purpose of winning an award (which it did – the Pulitzer Prize) without any thought towards having an enjoyable story. As I continued this feeling did subside and I realised the story was well written and was enjoyable but I never quite got over the pretentious style of writing.

For anyone thinking of reading this, I would certainly say to go ahead and try it. After all as I said, I didn’t hate the book, I simply found it hard at times and thought it nothing more than an OK book but the end but I do know a number of people who have rated it five stars and loved every second of reading. So definitely try it – you never know, you may end up loving it way more than I did.

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Meet Me In Paris – Juliette Sobanet (Review)

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If there’s one thing I can’t resist it’s a book about Paris. My two great loves are reading and Paris and having already read some of Juliette’s previous work and loving it, I jumped at the chance to read her latest book, her very own memoir.


Meet Me In Paris follows Juliette (real name Danielle) through her divorce and her struggles to find what she wants from life while everything she has known as an adult begins to change.
Early on we find out that towards the end of her divorce, Juliette meets a man, also married but in an open relationship, who she begins an affair with and this plays a huge role throughout the book. At times I found this subject hard to deal with as I’ve never agreed with cheating while in a relationship but I tried to keep an open mind and understood that I shouldn’t judge a situation that I’ve never been in because in reality I have no idea what I would do. I’m glad I kept this open mind as the further I got the more I understood Juliette’s thoughts behind the affair and I began to understand why she finds it so hard to stop. I did however hate her lover more and more as the story progressed, to me it felt like a typical married man who will never leave his wife but doesn’t want to give up his lover and I struggled to empathise with him when he was upset about the affair as I felt like he knew exactly what he was doing and I couldn’t take his tears seriously.
Although the affair plays a major role in the book, I found the main aspect was Juliette’s self discovery, realising what it was that she wanted from life and I loved this theme. I think ultimately what she needed in life was to be in a city where she felt happy and surrounded by good friends and for her that place was France. Between Paris and Lyon Juliette is able to see some close friends and with there help she is able to sort through all the thoughts in her head and realise what is important to her. I loved Juliette’s version of France, her thoughts on why Paris and Lyon are so beautiful and why she enjoys spending time there so much.

There was one particular theme that I can want to mention, Juliette meets a couple and one half of said couple is a writer who believes in reincarnation. This is something I’ve thought of from time to time but never in depth yet the subject stuck with me. They mention that Juliette will have lived lives before and in her past life she probably lived in Paris as when she first travelled there she felt a connection with the city and instantly felt at ease. This is something I understand completely as I felt exactly the same when I went to Paris, a feeling I’ve never felt with any other city that I’ve travelled to. Exploring this idea was something completely new to me. I’ve never read a book where the author talks about reincarnation in any sort of detail and I adore the fact that Juliette has the confidence to do this.

I would pre warn any potential reader that there are constant sex themes but in reality they are done so well and I never felt like they were grotesque or unnecessary, mostly I felt they were there because that is just real life. The constant reminder that Juliette and her lover would meet up and spend the majority of their time in a hotel room just made me feel even more that this relationship wasn’t going to last, I constantly felt that for her lover it was nothing more than sex even though it was portrayed to be a lot more than this.

Meet Me In Paris was a great read and I applaud Juliette for actually being able to write this because it must take a lot of courage to pour your heart into pieces of paper that you know the world will be able see. Her journey was heartbreaking at times and I can only imagine what it must feel like to have to say goodbye to a life you’ve known for years and start afresh. I thoroughly enjoyed the read and meeting the people in Juliette’s life who helped her through the tough times. If you love romance and you love Paris then I’d say to pick up a copy of Meet Me In Paris, the true story is actually quite lovely and tells a great tale of how with good friends you can make it through anything. Now all I need is a ticket to Paris.