Oh my gosh folks, it’s yet another memoir about living in Paris! So this book continues my recent track record of reading as many memoirs about living in Paris as humanly possible. As my move gets closer and closer, I’m getting more excited and nervous to be leaving the East Coast behind and launching on my next adventure. I was really excited to read this memoir because it is much more recent than most of the ones I’ve read so far. Gopnik lived in Paris in the 1990s and into the early 2000s and chronicled his experiences in the Paris Journals for the New Yorker as well as within this memoir. Gopnik explores the difficulties of being an American in Paris as well as becoming a new father shortly before his move across continents.
I really loved this book. Gopnik is pensive and truthful and uproariously funny even under difficult circumstances. Gopnik details the minutiae of living in Paris and the daily battles of an American trying to adapt to a new home, specifically in a home so disdainful of the brand of American globalism that Mr. Gopnik represents. I found the reflections on his life to be touching and made me unafraid to move to Paris today. I think my favorite part of the book was the series of Christmas Journals, a reflection from the holiday season in Paris. Gopnik wrote a Christmas Journal for each year he was in Paris and it’s thought-provoking to read through his year end tabulation of the joys and disappointments of the outgoing year. I would absolutely recommend this book and I’m going to give this one to my mom when I return home for the summer. I hope you are able to find a copy, mine was courtesy of Thriftbooks so I suggest you start there! Happy Reading!
I read this book as part of a series of books that I’m reading at the moment on American expatriates who lived or currently live in France. I’m anticipating moving to France in a year or so and am currently trying to learn French as well as learn all that I can about the experiences of Americans in France. When I started to research the American expat experience, I turned to several well-known travel bloggers and collected book recommendations about it.
While Collins’ book is not actually about living in France, it details her journey to learn French, the primary language of her husband. The book itself is more of a meditation on language than it is a memoir. Collins delves into the intricacies of languages around the world, but also spends a large portion of the book reflecting on how language colors her own experience. By the end of the book, she finally feels empowered in her communication with her husband and is ready to start the new chapter of her life in Europe.
I would say that this book was good but the linguistic element did lose me at certain points. It’s rare that I put a book down once I begin and I found myself doing this multiple times while reading this book because I felt that I was not comprehending the content and that I needed a break. I found it to be more of a linguistic exploration rather than a memoir and would encourage those particularly interested in the history and development of language to read this. Because Collins lived in Switzerland rather than France, I felt that her living experience was not as relevant to my research. However, I really appreciated the time that she took to reflect upon the intricacies of the French language and will continue to reference her experience as I continue to learn the language myself.