Books in Paris

My need for books is insatiable, and books on/in Paris escalate it wildly. In conversation with Rooth in the comments of yesterday’s post, I recommended two books by John Baxter on Paris and it occurred to me that my Inner Francophile (different than my Inner French Girl, but I’m beginning to suspect I have multiple personality disorder or something) has persuaded me to read a bunch of really wonderful books set in Paris, so I decided to do a round-up of my favorites. You don’t know how hard it was not to include Madeline or Babar in this list.

There’s no better way to start than with the classic account of Paris in the 1920s than with Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” Just be sure not to buy a ‘restored’ edition, because the grandson of Hemingway’s second wife all but rewrote the book to display his grandmother in a more flattering light. From a NYTimes piece on the edition, “The grandson has removed several sections of the book’s final chapter and replaced them with other writing of Hemingway’s that the grandson feels paints his grandma in a more sympathetic light. Ten other chapters that roused the grandson’s displeasure have been relegated to an appendix, thereby, according to the grandson, creating “a truer representation of the book my grandfather intended to publish.” Shady, shady business, so do yourself a favor and get an un-edited version.

I picked up my first Baxter, “The Most Beautiful Walk in the World”, as I made my way home from seeing Midnight in Paris by myself last year. I was eager to stoke the magical, wonderful feeling the movie left me with and the book just happened to be sitting on a table on the first floor of Barnes and Noble. What’s French for fate? The back cover spoke of Paris in the 1920s, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, falling in love with a Parisienne, a history of art. I was sold. I quickly moved on to another one of his books, “We’ll Always Have Paris,” and fell just as in love all over again.

Then there’s Peter Mayle, who I’m ashamed I only started reading recently when Boyfriend bought me “French Lessons” for Christmas. Like Baxter, his writing feels like he is talking directly to you as a dear old friend. Both writers are hilarious and witty and self-effacing. But if you’re looking for something less cheerful, pick anything from the bottom row. We have heartbreaking tales of Paris during the German occupation with Irene Nemirovsky’s “Suite Française,” (I’ve recommded this book to almost everyone I know) and emotional fictionalizations of Hadley and Ernest Hemingway’s courtship and marriage in “The Paris Wife.”

Of course, you could always curl up on your sofa and do a double feature of Amélie and Midnight in Paris, too. Which I fully plan on doing (for the second time this week, ahem. I call it “book research”) this weekend. I’m also excited to announce that in addition for French classes this winter, I’ve also signed up for a 1 day, 6-hour immersion course at the same school because I’m crazy to get my feet wet. I didn’t do as poorly as I assumed on the placement exam, and have been put into a Basic level class, one step above Beginner, but below Intermediate. Pas mal!

Tomorrow I’m going apple and pumpkin picking! Any good fall recipes you guys can share? We always end up with 6lbs of apples.

11 thoughts on “Books in Paris

  1. Recipes….
    Apple gallette, tres French, with a pate brisee crust.
    Fish Market Apple Pie
    Apple crisp…which I’m making for Sunday with homemade vanilla ice cream….stop nagging already!
    Jewish Apple Cake
    Apple dumplings
    Oh how I could go on!

  2. You keep making my wish list grow!! Ah! Sometimes I live vicariously through David Lebovitz videos. I love Suite Française one of my favorites. I don’t know if you have read Sarah’s Key, definitely contemporary and popular fiction but I enjoyed it more than I expected to and Kristen Scoot Thomas was in the movie adaptation and I am in awe of her so it got extra points for that. I didn’t know that about Hemingway’s book! I have no clue which version I read, it was a long time ago. I’d add Henry Miller to my list too, I think his books were the first ones that made me really thinking about Paris.

    Ack and while I am at it have you seen the Olive of Us videos?? You must have. If you haven’t go now and watch. Ok, phew! Obviously Paris and Books gets me a little chatty ; ) Have a great weekend! Oh and you can make tart tartin!

  3. apple crumble apple crumble apple crumble apple crumble. with a hint of cinnamon.

    i haven’t read of any of those books or even heard of them. But I did love babar although I found it quite strange. funny French people!

    Have fun pumpkining xx

  4. When I was at the bread photo shoot yesterday, my friend Jackie made me homemade apple doughnuts with an apple cider & caramel glaze. Poof. Just like that. I also have a sour cream apple pie recipe that my boys love (first got it from Posie Gets Cozy). Maybe I’ll make that this weekend. Hmmm.

    Really good book recommendations. I’ve read some of them, but not all, and I’m always SO happy to add to my list. I love books that transport you to far away places and Paris is as good as any. I kid, I kid!

    Have a great weekend, duckie. xo

  5. Shoot, I needed these book recommendations a couple of days ago. At last night’s book club, when we were deciding which book to read next, it came down to Suite Francaise and The End of Your Life Book Club. The latter won. Though, I have added Suite Francaise to my reading list, and I’ll read it on my own. (And I STILL need to see Amelie and Midnight in Paris!)
    Have a wonderful time apple and pumpkin picking this weekend. Sounds like the perfect fall activity. Hm, maybe try this apple recipe, touted as the easiest apple tart:
    Have a wonderful weekend, E!

  6. I have to say that I don’t really like Amelie, I think the movie is wierd and overrated. But that’s just me. Midnight in Paris is nice but I think the actors try to hard. I normally love Rachel McAdams but in that movie she is acting way over normal! I’m having a movie day, now watching I know what you did last summer. Remember that one? A walk down memory lane ;)

  7. Great recs and I haven’t read any of them! There are so many great books in the world aren’t there? I really like A Year In Provence by Mayle. I just found out we have enough Starwood points for another 4 days in Paris so here’s to hoping 2013 means another Paris trip! I read my 2 year-old Madeline and books about Monet and she loves them. So far she knows the Eiffel Tower, Giverny, Bonjour, & Merci:) Oh, and I may or may have not brought her a doll back from Paris last year that I named “Little Lanvin.” Have a great time apple-picking! I’ve always wanted to do that! My hands down favorite apple receipe is Ina Garten’s Apple Crisp. I make it every year for thanksgiving and special occassions. Add some vanilla bean gelato and it tastes heavenly. Have a wonderful weekend!

  8. I have Suite Francais on my night stand waiting to be read (in fact I’d completely forgotten about it….) I’ve got to dig it out, thanks for reminding me! My mouths watering at the idea of a blackberry and apple crumble, mmmmmm. x

  9. Thank you for the Paris book recommendations! I’ve really been getting my fill of London lately (not that that’s a bad thing) but it’s helpful to explore other cities too – even if it’s just through reading.

  10. Oh, how I love and hate book recommendations! I love hearing about all the good reads, especially when I haven’t heard of them before and I hate them because my pile of books to read is neverending. Sigh. I read a lot of Paris books but I am fan of the dirty gritty stuff like Down and Out in Paris and London, Therese Raquin and the whole rest of Zola for that matter, Tropic of Cancer and so on. Thanks for the list!

    Oh, and apple pie or crumble, simple is best.

Comments are closed.