A health scare often compels people to take giant leaps and do something that they only dreamed of doing before. For Shakespeare professor and romance novelist Eloisa James, it was a diagnosis of breast cancer that compelled her and her husband to take one-year sabbaticals from their jobs, sell their home, pack up their belongings, and move with their kids to Paris. Paris in Love is an account of her family’s year there, consisting primarily of her Facebook posts and tweets from that year that have been revised and expanded.
With her diagnosis, James expected to have some grand epiphany about the meaning and beauty of life. While that life-altering “Aha!” moment never materialized, she realized that her cancer had changed her in ways that she hadn’t expected. She felt the need purge many of her material possessions, and then, as she puts it, “live someone else’s life—specifically, that of a person who lived in Paris.”
While the move overseas was not always easy on her or her family, her love for the City of Light shines through on each page. These snippets from her Facebook capture particularly funny, touching and trying moments as James, her husband and her children try to adjust to their new life abroad. Her observations about the people she encounters, from the homeless man who lives on their street to the butcher who flirts with her, sparkle with wit and life.
Given that this is a collection of tweets and Facebook posts, Paris in Love does not have a cohesive narrative. Readers who are looking for that should perhaps read a different memoir about Paris. I admit to being rather skeptical about this at first, but James won me over with her charm and humor. I enjoyed the longer essays more, but the short slices of life she offers make for excellent light reading.