If you know me, you know I have a little thing for Paris. A lifelong thing. A thing that a few short days in the city only magnifies. Makes it clear that mere days are not enough. A thing where even a whole month in the city proves to be too little time.
Despite my limited French, my limited knowledge (by European standards) of European history, despite my ever-persistent lack of direction. (There it is: For a person so full of purpose and drive, I am physically lost far too often.) Sometimes that’s a good thing. When I’m wandering a place – one that’s “safe” anyway, when I’m hiking (thank goodness for GPS), or when I just need to clear my head.
Paris has invaded my reading lately, too. Two favorites I read on my recent sojourn to Paris:
The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
The first, a light, fun read of about Perdu, the Parisian owner of a literary barge – a floating bookshop. Perdu (yes, it means lost) embarks on a journey to recover a lost love, lost time, and he picks up a few new folks for his inner circle along the way. It’s a love story – to reading, to love, to friendship, to Paris and to cities along the river everywhere.
Verdict: good summer read.
Tissue rating (the number of tissues it takes to get through the heartbreak): Two
Now, A Moveable Feast. My love for Paris is deeply intertwined with my love for American writers of the 20th century. And that, necessarily, requires me to address my love/hate feelings for Hemingway. (It’s not so complicated: Love his sparse prose, hate his misogyny.)
At any rate, a stay in the Latin quarter isn’t complete without this book to transport you to Paris in the twenties. I appreciate Hemingway’s revisit to his simple, fruitful time in Paris with his first wife Elizabeth Hadley. I know, deeply, the love for the places and spaces a city like Paris can take up in your brain.
The book twangs nostalgia, is laced with regret. Paris owns you that way. The tentacles of it wrap around you. The adventures with Fitzgerald, the days in coffee shops, the way he talks about his writing habits. Its muchness.
When you dive in, make sure to get the restored edition, which stays truer to the story Hemingway envisioned for the books and includes a forward from two of his children.
Verdict: Must, of course. Seulement Paris
Tissue rating: Zero. Papa wouldn’t have it