Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas
This book reminded me a little bit of Chocolat by Joanne Harris and a little bit of Petite Anglaise by Catherine Sanderson. The former, because of the passionate, undying love for all things sweet; the latter because it speaks to a young woman rediscovering her life in the City of Light.
Amy Thomas was always obsessed with the French. She loved pastries and chocolate and writing and, when offered a job to write ad copy for Louis Vuitton, she leaves her gorgeously decorated condo and the plethora of NYC cupcake shoppes she loves and heads for the Champs-Elysees.
The best part of Paris, My Sweet is Thomas' love affair with all things Parisienne. It is so whole-hearted, consuming and genuine. You can just feel in your fingertips that this, THIS is her dream city; rather like Vienna is mine. It was also refreshing, in a world of books where women feel they must restrain their sweet tooth in order to accomplish a societal ideal, to read of a woman's passionate love-affair with food. Dieting be damned! Thomas bikes everywhere and, like the (now immortal?) words of actress Emma Stone, believes that "life is short. You only live once. So eat the damn red velvet cupcake" (paraphrase).
"The first time I bit into one of Rachel's truffles", Thomas recalls, "I was instantly smitten." This Valentine's Day, I propose rediscovering Romance in its artistically liberal forms. It was, long before the Hallmark Card industry, a term reserved for implying all sorts of artistic merit and unrestricted beauty: passion and fervently immeasurable beauty: in music, art, theatre, literature: colouring outside the lines, discovering passion and sensuality in themes, images, ideas. Thomas reclaims Romance in this sense by offering us a succinct world of delicate deliciousness. This is a sensual exploration of one woman's passion for pastries and the smells and sights and senses that lead her on a remarkable journey around the City of Love.
Think of this as the chocolate-lover's travelogue: interspersed, Thomas includes Sweet Spots on the Map which weave a chocolate-lover through some of the most delectable spots in her world. The index at the back of the book is a lovely list of bakeries: in Manhattan and in Paris where those who share an affinity for all things sweet can retrace Amy Thomas' footsteps.
The only complaint I have in regard to this frothy and fun story ( which I, smartly, decided to read with a decaf latte and pastry near-hand) is the dialogue intermixed. I recognize that Thomas needed to provide a narrative credibility and flow to her story by paraphrasing dialogue which would help transport the reader to the times and locales of her memoir; but I found this aspect rather weak.
If you are looking for a love affair with chocolate, vanilla, cupcakes, brioches, cinnamon, croissants, macaroons, petite fours and icing, then LOOK NO FURTHER!
This was a fun, frivolous and frosty maze through a city renowned for its unabashed delight in all things sweet.
My thanks to Sourcebooks for the opportunity to read this book and review it on the blog.
Read Amy Thomas' aptly named blog: God, I love Paris
Buy the book at Amazon