Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Paris Was Ours -- Review and Giveaway!

Published:  2011 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Source:  Purchased a copy, won a copy

  I have only had the good fortune to visit Paris once, for a brief 5 day visit, and I loved it.  I did the tourist-y things -- The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, etc., but one of the greatest pleasures was just walking along the streets and enjoying whatever unexpected experience I encountered. (I remember one Sunday afternoon spending an hour or so in The Place des Vosges - a park in the Marais district - and felt like I was in Heaven).

  So Paris Was Ours was an essential purchase for me when it was published.  This collection of 32 essays is not about tourist Paris but about living in Paris (at different periods in recent history); and while the essays reinforce in Francophiles like me the greatness of Paris, they also show the not-so-pretty aspects of the city.   And while Paris is by no means the perfect place, its flaws do not seem to prevent these writers from staying there for an extended period time - if not permanently - or visiting again and again.

  Very few of the contributors of this collection were familiar to me (David Sedaris and Diane Johnson were the only names I recognized), but despite this I read each essay with my limited experience of Paris in mind and after finishing the book it was all I could do to not book myself an immediate flight (I'm hoping to visit Paris at the end of the year, but it's still in the wishing stage).

  And I loved this book so much I found myself with two copies!  I purchased the book on my own, but a few weeks ago I also won a copy courtesy of Wonders and Marvels, a really interesting and entertaining history blog.  So I'd like to send my extra copy to an interested reader.  Simply comment below (with an e-mail address, please) and for my own curiosity, tell me something that you like about Paris.  The giveaway is open internationally, and I will randomly select the winner on Monday, April 25. 

Highly recommended.


  1. Awww, I love reading books on writers!! Thanks for introducing us to the title and even if I don't win I will definitely have to check it out!

    What I like about Paris? The food, especially those yummy crepes!

    danaan at gmx dot at

  2. I have heard that the pastries of Paris are beyond compare, so that's probably what I would like about it, but I can't say for sure, as I have never traveled there. I am hoping to one day though, and think that it's amazing that you have been there. It seems like such a divine and cultured place. I would love the chance to read this book, so please do include me in your giveaway!


  3. For as long as I can remember, my dream has been to go to Paris. I don't care if I miss the touristy things or not, I just want to be able to wander the streets and enjoy everything that the city has to offer. That, and I want to eat their pastries ... La Duree macaroons have been the one thing that I have wanted to try for the past couple of years!

    kristens (dot) booknook (at) gmail (dot) com

  4. Unfortunately the opportunity to visit Paris has not yet happened for me. Instead, one of my sons gave me a large metal statue of the Eiffel Tower, my daughter has decorated her room with her aunt's assistance using pictures of Coco Chanel in front of the Eiffel Tower, and my kitchen is accented with word strips like Bon Appetit and decorative plates of little French chefs. These few touches bring a little bit of France into our home for everyday enjoyment. If you're thinking I would love this book, you are absolutely right!!


  5. Ahhh, the jacket cover looks exactly like the five days I spent in Paris after biking through the southern mountains.
    Dark, rainy streets near Notre Dame and cobblestoned alley ways housing noisy little bistros calling you in from the dampness for a crisp glass of Bordeaux.
    My favorite museum inside and out - Rodin's.

    Oh yes, I'm ready to return, even if it's only between the pages of this book!

  6. I was fortunate to tag along with my sister and her two daughters on their trip to Paris last summer. Beautiful. Amazing.

    Of all the beautiful and amazing things is Paris the one I love most are the bakeries. I hope someday to return to Paris and work in a bakery there.

    Here is my e-mail address: debnance@gmail.com

    Thank you for offering this fun giveaway! I'll be having a giveaway on my blog first thing tomorrow morning. Hope you will stop by.

  7. Ooooh, I've had my eye on this book for a few weeks now... It sounds wonderful, please enter me for the giveaway! My email address is: emp501@hotmail.co.uk

    I've never been to Paris (excepting Disneyland when I was little, and a trip around the ringroad en route to Spain on a school trip, not very cultural experiences!), but there seems to be something in the Parisian air that just CAPTURES people. The pastries and coffee are definitely up there for me, but one of my all-time dreams is to go and spend a day browsing round the Shakespeare & Co. bookshop on the Left Bank. I've read books on it, seen documentaries on it, drooled over people's photos of it - now I just need to actually get there, possibly with a moving van for all the books I'd be tempted to buy!

    Ellie @ Musings of a Bookshop Girl

  8. I would love to be entered for this. My husband and I have a pipe dream to spend a summer month in Paris some day....


  9. Never made Paris. Husband is Greek, so we head there or England where he was schooled. Nonetheless, love the Paris of Helen MacInnes' Double Image and Venetian Affair (book, not movie).

  10. This sounds really fun. I don't know a lot about Paris, but I bet experiencing it from the perspective of writers would be nice.

  11. Hey,

    I've just discovered this book... with my rainy photo in the cover !


    I think I am going to buy it - and read it ;-)


What do you think? Good or bad, I'd love to hear from you (but be nice - I'm sensitive!)