Paris Was Ours: Thirty-Two Writers Reflect on the City of Light, edited by Penelope Rowlands
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.