I bought this book yesterday thinking it would be a good one to take with me on the six hour plane ride I have coming up in three weeks. Well, seeing as I’m writing a review for it less than 24 hours after its purchase, that didn’t happen. You would think that, by now, I would know not to buy the “plane book” until 20 minutes before the flight, but here we are again. (Also, airports charge approximately $468 for a book and a bottle of water so there’s that.)
I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover or whatever, but that’s what I did. The sketch design caught my eye as soon as I walked in the store. Also, I’m a sucker for anything about travel in memoir form. If you haven’t read We’ll Always Have Paris, you need to do that. But this review isn’t about that book, so here we go.
Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
by Elizabeth Bard
I don’t know what it is about memoirs, but I always fly through them. Fiction just doesn’t do it for me when I’m reading. Elizabeth writes in such a way that I could smell the food, see the markets and hear the bustle of the Parisian streets. I felt like I was walking through Paris myself, which is probably why I didn’t put the book down until I read every page. I was there with her, learning with her, eating with her.
I quickly found myself falling in love with the characters. (Who actually aren’t characters, but real people.) Gwendal, the overly-happy Frenchman, became somewhat of a friend to me, which sounds weird when I say it out loud, but it’s true.
The 314 pages flew by and it was one of those moments, when I reached the final page, that I felt that post-concert depression hit. Except this time, a book. However, I did find a sequel to Lunch in Paris, called Picnic in Province, which I will be purchasing as soon as my checking account has more than three digits.
Without ruining anything, here’s a short synopsis of Elizabeth’s first eight years in Paris:
There’s no better way to learn a different culture than to be thrown into it, right? This is what happens to Elizabeth when she sits down for lunch with Gwendal, a handsome, young Frenchman. The catch? She doesn’t go home. Through the eyes of a New Yorker, we are taken on a journey to find happiness in a strange place. We see her face challenges from not being able to return a pair of shoes, to giving English tours of the Louvre, to finally mastering her order (in French) at the butcher, Elizabeth allows us to walk beside her during first years as a Parisian.
You’ll fall in love with Gwendal’s charming French family and laugh along with Elizabeth’s family as they are thrown into the deep end of an exotic culture. You’ll learn what American foods to burry in your suitcase (hello chicken broth) and what you can expect to find at a Paris market (what do you mean there’s no Toll House cookie dough?)
Lunch in Paris is just one of those books you get lost in. You look up, and suddenly you’re speaking French fluently and are a master at making Gwendal’s quick and dirty chocolate soufflé cake. (Did I tell you it comes with a cookbook at the end of each chapter???)
Recommendation: 12/10 buy this book right now. Read it and then buy a plane ticket.