After Eleanor Brown researched her own book, The Light of Paris, she wondered why people love Paris so much. And, she was surprised to see how many female, heterosexual, white women, bestselling authors, had written about Paris. So, she went to seventeen other women writers from the United States, England, and Ireland, and asked them to write about their experiences in Paris. The result is a collection of essays, A Paris All Your Own.
Brown's question actually was, "Why do we love writing - and reading - stories about Paris?" Why are we obsessed with it? Each woman had a different answer. Some, like Brown, did not fall in love with the city. She saw it just as another city. Michelle Gable, author of A Paris Apartment and I'll See You in Paris, made the mistake of going with her parents, husband, and children. The family trip was a disaster. Her daughter's favorite part of the trip was the plane, and the family preferred London. M.J. Rose wrote of the romance of the city, as did Meg Waite Clayton. Clayton's essay, entitled "Thirty-Four Things You Should Know About Paris", is fun. She honeymooned in Paris, and admits they may have missed a few things. But, she makes suggestions.
One of my favorite essays was by Cara Black, but I'm prejudiced. I know Cara, and she's given me tips for my first trip to Paris. Cara's essay, "Investigating Paris", talks about her love of the city, the mystery of it as it links to the writing of mysteries and Georges Simenon's Inspector Maigret. But, she also says Paris will always be a mystery.
You'll recognize many of these authors - Paula McLain, Susan Vreeland, Lauren Willig. And, if you read the book, you'll realize you've seen many of the other names as well.
I appreciated the notes after each essay. Brown tells who the authors are, where to find their websites and other social media contacts, lists the Paris books. Then, each author lists their favorite Paris moment, their least favorite, the song that reminds them of Paris, and a suggestion. "In Paris, you must..." It's those suggestions, "In Paris, you must..." that I'm going to take with me to Paris. My conclusion? Paris is different for everyone, as is any city. And, in my opinion, every trip is special, if you make it so.
Eleanor Brown's website is www.eleanor-brown.com
A Paris All Your Own edited by Eleanor Brown. G.T. Putnam's Sons. 2017. ISBN 9780399574474 (paperback), 265p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy.