November 9, 2014

Paris Letters

Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod
2014 Sourcebooks
Finished on September 2, 2014
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher’s Blurb:

Finding love and freedom in a pen, a paintbrush… and Paris

How much money does it take to quit your job?

Exhausted and on the verge of burnout, Janice poses this question to herself as she doodles on a notepad at her desk. Surprisingly, the answer isn’t as daunting as she expected. With a little math and a lot of determination, Janice cuts back, saves up, and buys herself two years of freedom in Europe.

A few days into her stop in Paris, Janice meets Christophe, the cute butcher down the street—who doesn’t speak English. Through a combination of sign language and franglais, they embark on a whirlwind Paris romance. She soon realizes that she can never return to the world of twelve-hour workdays and greasy corporate lingo. But her dwindling savings force her to find a way to fund her dreams again. So Janice turns to her three loves—words, art, and Christophe—to figure out a way to make her happily-ever-after in Paris last forever.

Another selection for the 2014 Paris in July reading challenge, this one turned out to be a winner! I managed to read the entire book in just one week, which these days is a huge accomplishment for me. Littered with two dozen Post-It Notes, this book is one I plan to hang on to for future reference, right next to Eloisa James’ Paris in Love. I don’t know when, but I’m definitely planning to visit Paris… someday!

Inspiration to De-Clutter:
By night, I moved on from my closets to delve into my cupboards. I tossed dried-up nail polishes and hairbrushes. I only used one hairbrush. Why did I have six? I used up the rest of my teeth whitening gel. I gave up on and tossed the recipes I’d clipped for dishes I never made. I tossed the free CD of weird music I never listen to from that yoga class I stopped going to. The old yoga mat, the deflated yoga ball, the broken yoga straps, the expired yoga membership…tossed. Half-filled journals of half-baked ideas, the stack of phone books from the last five years [who uses phones books anymore?!], broken flowerpots that I kept with thoughts of making something crafty from them, the broken frames I meant to fix…tossed. Makeup samples, swag from film industry party gift bags, sunglasses with scratches [eh-hem], a home phone even though I didn’t have a land line anymore, chargers for cell phones I didn’t have anymore, computer boxes for computers I didn’t have either, instruction manuals for electronics that I didn’t even remember having, the wrong-sized vacuum bags I never returned, checkbooks for accounts I no longer had…tossed. And loyalty cards that promised savings on everything I bought. Tossed. I’d save more by not buying.

This brought a smile to my face:

By June, the sixth month into my journaling year, I had crossed plenty off my list of unfinished business and let go of many items, such as most of my books and one of my guitars. I was ruthless. I knew, without knowing where I was going, that I wouldn’t need this stuff when I got there.

But one item stopped me in my tracks.

My Kris Kristofferson album.

I haven’t owned a record player since my single-digit years, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of this album. This record was pilfered from my parents’ collection. When I was a kid, I would gawk at this album cover and stare into his steely blue eyes. Kris Kristofferson was a real artist. A great lyricist and a pretty good actor. When I looked at Kris, I thought, “This guy is so good at everything he does. And what he does is so cool. I want to do something cool.” I kept the album.

On the magic of bookstores:

My haste to get outside is based on an exciting call I received after lunch. The book I ordered has arrived at the local English bookstore. There is something poetic about a good old-fashioned bookstore. I used to have Amazon deliver books to my door. I’ve always had a love for mail. And these days, I’ll be the first to brag about the convenience and pleasure of e-books. The instant access to English books in a French-speaking land is a magical delight. But there is magic in traditional bookstores too. It’s a magic you can feel in the air. The smell of aging paper, of ink, and of people. And in Paris, some of those people were Hemingway and Fitzgerald.

Final Thoughts:

This delightful memoir, with its black-and-white drawings and countless travel suggestions, is the perfect armchair guide to "La Ville-Lumière.” Not only do I plan to peruse it again at a later date, I’ve also just discovered the author’s blog, which I know will keep me entertained for many, many months. Paris Letters is all that Eat Pray Love hoped to be, but without the prayer and the navel-gazing.


  1. That sounds like my kind of book. The cover is fantastic.

    1. Isn't it a pretty cover? The author drew it. She's quite an artist!

  2. Les, I've added this to my wishlist. One day I hope to get to see Paris! I'm re-reading "Lunch In Paris" by Elizabeth Bard. Have you read that one?

    Linda in VA

    1. Linda, you will really enjoy this book, I just know it! I haven't read Lunch in Parish, but it's on my wishlist! Must be good if you're re-reading it.

  3. I haven't seen this one before but it looks great! I can't imagine how twitchy I'd get to start decluttering from reading it. Although I don't know that I'd be quite that ruthless!

    1. I can't remember how I discovered this book, Lisa. Probably just saw it at work one day and was drawn to it for the pretty cover art.

      I wish I could take a few months off to do a serious job of decluttering. My basement and closets could use some attention...

  4. Sharon11:35 AM

    Thanks for this recommendation-what a lovely read and perfect to end 2014 on.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Sharon. It's one I plan to read again.


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