Have you ever wanted to run away to Paris? I know I have, so when I picked up “Paris In Love,” a tale about a woman who sells her house, takes a sabbatical from her university job, and moves her family to Paris, I knew I was hooked.
New York Times best-selling author Eloisa James stopped by Atlanta in April to talk about her newest memoir “Paris In Love.”
What inspired you to write this book?
The moment when the doctor said “the biopsy is positive.” That sentence is life changing for whomever hears it. My cancer was not terribly serious: it was caught at an early stage. But the diagnosis was a wake-up call. I realized that time—my time—could be cut short at any moment. Sometimes nesting is the best possible response to a big life change (when caring for a new baby, for instance), but not always. I strongly believe that it is important to seek out adventures, even as an adult, a mom, a wife. I’ve always loved Paris, and saw living there as an adventure… Luckily for me, my husband agreed.
What do you hope readers will take away from this story?
My hope is that “Paris In Love” will inspire more people to snatch up a dream and just do it—trust that it’s OK to sell the house, move into an apartment you find on the internet, live in a foreign country without speaking the language (because I don’t speak French!).
Paris is such a magical city – what is your favorite memory of it?
Paris is an extraordinarily beautiful city. I spent a good deal of the year walking and then returning home to try to describe what I saw. Here is a much loved memory that I put in the book:
My favorite of Paris’s many bridges is Pont Alexandre III, and my favorite of its many statues is not one of those covered with gold, but rather a laughing boy holding a trident and riding a fish. Although just a child, he’s bigger than I am, his huge toes flying off the fish as he twists in mid-air…but he’s a boy still, with a guileless smile—caught in a moment when he is big enough to ride the back of a fish, but not yet acquainted with the world’s sorrows and deceits.
On the far end of Pont Alexandre III, opposite the mer-boy, sits his twin sister. She seems to have just left the water; she holds fronds of seaweed in one hand and in the other a large seashell to her ear. Her face is intent as she looks into the distance, listening carefully. I imagine that she is listening for the rushing sound of waves, the sound of home.
Can you reveal the topic of your next book?
My next book is “The Ugly Duchess,” which publishes in late August; the title speaks for itself in terms of topic. I wrestled with this novel a great deal because I didn’t want a physical transformation to be at the heart of my heroine’s transformation into a swan. I am more interested in an emotional change: in the growth that happens when a person accepts and grows to love the way she looks, rather than trying to look the way society or culture says she ought to look. And to anyone who picks up “Paris In Love”…I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the city.