Reviewed by Pauline Seath
A confessed “bookaholic” my preference lies in non-fiction. I was delighted by my latest read, A Paris Year, by Janice MacLeod.
I chose this book mainly because I have never been to Paris and was interested in the author’s quote on the cover “My day to day adventures in the most romantic city in the world.”
From the very first page I fell in love with this beautifully written and illustrated book. I was immediately “transported” to Paris and felt like I was living every moment alongside Janice MacLeod. I have some knowledge of Paris not only from school [I learnt French language as well as the usual history etc] but also from having some family members currently living in France. And so, the book provided entertainment as well as knowledge, a lovely balance!
Janice is an accomplished artist and author. Her book The Paris Letters was a best seller, and she describes this, her latest book, as ”a memoir, a guidebook and ode to ma belle Paris.” As Janice says, “Paris is a walking city;” how true a comment, for one could not possibly see and experience the very essence of Paris any other way but on foot.
Each day Janice carried her journal, pens and camera, jotting down her discoveries and adding photographs and illustrations which perfectly enhance her beautifully penned script. It was so refreshing to feast the eyes on such script rather than the usual typing. Her journal morphed into a book, her passion for the city itself and the culture reflected in her eloquently written notes.
Janice writes concisely, often in point form, which lends itself to easily understood reading. History and cultural references intertwine with her days, to which she has added into the text quotes and anecdotes of famous past residents. Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Piaf, and Van Gogh populate her pages.
Janice sometimes meets unusual people as she travels around. One of these she called “Lady Metro”, a woman who attached herself to Janice at the train station, and tagged along with her. She did this on several occasions. After a time she began hinting she wanted to meet Janice’s friends, however Janice didn’t quite trust her and avoided the issue. In justification she reported, “You can’t introduce an elephant into a herd of sheep and expect the relationship to flourish.”
A Year in Paris showcases the wonderful artistic talents and passions of the author. But it also showcases Paris, the glamorous city on the Seine. Janice MacLeod overlooks very little that is important in this city. Its food, ever changing atmosphere, the flea markets and the Folies Bergere, the night scenes which captivate the tourist and the days that enthrall. It is truly the city of lovers.
I have already had enormous pleasure showing this book off to my visitors and will certainly be gifting copies to family and friends.
By Janice MacLeod
ISBN: 9780733638619 (hardback)