Scheer, Kodi. Midair.

NY: Little A, 2016.

The author teaches writing at the University of Michigan, and this may or may not be her first published novel, but it’s not a bad effort. It’s also quite short — barely 200 pages — but she packs a lot into it. It’s the summer of 1999 and Vanessa Baxter is eighteen, a recent high school graduate from a semi-rural Chicago suburb, and she has just arrived in Paris with three of her classmates. Her single-parent family, unlikely those of her friends, has no money to speak of, but the girls managed to find sponsors for the trip and now they’re settling into a tiny short-term apartment on the Île de la Cité. Nessie is the brainy one, and also one of the class rejects.

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Ewan, Chris. The Good Thief’s Guide to Paris.

NY: St. Martin, 2008.

This is Ewan’s second novel about Charlie Howard, mystery novelist-slash-gentleman burglar, and while it’s not bad, it’s not as good as the first one (set in Amsterdam) — or, for that matter, the third one (Vegas).

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Published in: on 17 January 2012 at 7:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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Karmel, Alex. A Corner in the Marais: Memoir of a Paris Neighborhood.

Boston: Godine, 1998.

The author notes in the Foreword that “what has always interested me most in history is not the lives of great men or the analysis of the social, political, and economic forces that determined the great events, but rather the attempt to recreate a sense of what it was like to be an ordinary person living in a given era.” Wow. A sentiment and a view of the past that is exactly after my own heart. (more…)

Published in: on 9 January 2012 at 6:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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Johnson, Diane. Le Divorce.

NY: Dutton, 1997.

When Isabel Walker, a recent dropout (for no very good reason) from the USC film school and a quintessential California girl from Santa Barbara, gets off the plane in Paris, she thinks she’s there to hold the hand of her poet stepsister, Roxy, through her second pregnancy. She doesn’t yet know that Roxy’s French artist husband, Charles-Henri, has just left her for another woman.

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Published in: on 2 June 2011 at 8:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tremain, Rose. The Way I Found Her.

NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997.

I’ve been aware of this author for years, both her wide popularity and the critical notice she’s gotten, but I’d never read any of her books. So I picked up this one on a whim — and I’m very impressed. Tremain is like a classical musician, each character a different instrument, weaving themes in the air with her dialogue and descriptions. The plot begins very simply. Lewis Little, a thirteen-year-old semi-prodigy from Devon, goes off to Paris for the summer with his almost unnaturally beautiful mother, who is a French translator.

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Knisley, Lucy. French Milk.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2008.

In late December 2006, Lucy, the narrator and artist of this thoroughly engaging graphic journal, traveled from the family home in Rhinebeck, New York, to Paris for six weeks in company with her mother in celebration of her mother’s 50th birthday (and her own 22nd). Lucy herself had been attending the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago for four years and seems now to be a permanent transplant. Nor was she a stranger to the French capital, having spent the summer a couple years before backpacking around Europe with a close girlfriend. And her parents both obviously had spent a good deal of time there over the years. Which is to say, she’s far more experienced, sophisticated, and privileged in certain ways than most people her age. But she seems a very nice (and often “ordinary”) young woman for all that.

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Published in: on 28 January 2010 at 5:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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