Friday, April 6, 2012

Paris, My Sweet

Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate)

Paris, My Sweet is Amy Thomas’ memoir of her two years living and working in Paris. It is an ode to her love affair with sweets as much as it is to Paris and New York.

In 2008, Amy Thomas, a copywriter, blogger and columnist is asked if she would like to move to Paris and work as a copywriter for Louis Vuitton. Amy jumps at the chance to move to her fated city and leaves New York behind for the City of Light.

Each chapter focuses on a delicious sweet and we are taken on a decadent journey to find the best of the best found in either Paris or New York (or both) as Amy describes her move to Paris, what it is like to explore a new city, to be an expat in a foreign city, her struggles with language barriers and her sense of displacement. As Amy is having a love affair with the city of light, New York and Paris are having a mutual love affair with each other.

I admire Amy, she is living a dream, splitting time between two of the best cities in the world, working for a famous designer, stuffing her face with sweets and still looking fabulous. For all of her doubts, I think what she did is courageous. She packs up and moves to a new city where she barely knows anyone and in her free time, takes trips to other cities or countries. Not something just anyone can do.

There are times when Amy waxes on about missing New York and feeling as if she doesn’t belong in either city or she gets a little bit snobby (a sign she is adapting to the Frenchie culture) when returning to NYC for a visit. Once I got over my insane jealousy and itch to scream, you are living the dream, take a stroll down the rue Montorgueil and grab a sweet and stop bitching, I applauded her. She calls herself out for whining and snobbery. But she has a point too, of course it’s a dream job in a dream city but she’s also an American living in Paris, it’s not all wine and roses all the time.

As Amy immerses herself in her new city, you are treated to glimpses of her wit. From learning French slang, to her forays into the dating scene to Parisian doctors, Amy is honest about her missteps and her experiences. Whether funny, sad, or saccharine, Amy opens herself to the reader and doesn’t glamourize every detail.

Interspersed with her immense knowledge of all things chocolate, Amy is a devoted Francophile and it’s a treat reading about her explorations in Paris.

At the end of each chapter is a blurb giving the reader access to Amy’s favorite spots to find the sweet highlighted in the chapter in both Paris and New York. Included in the back of the book is a list of Amy’s favorite bakeries in both cities, a great reference to have if you are visiting either city.

I was lucky enough to spend a week in Paris a few years ago and I still miss it. It was a fabulous trip. Reading Paris, My Sweet leaves me feeling melancholy for my time spent there and yearning to go back again and instead of site seeing, taking in the culture. I agree with Amy, you can never spend enough time in Paris; there is so much to see and do. I can taste the Pain au Chocolats and the Crepes as if it were yesterday and I can imagine biting into the new deliciousness Amy opened my eye to in the book.

Overall, I think this was a great read, it was fast-paced and fun. The reader is able to indulge in a tantalizing mix of chocolate and Paris. If you have a love of Paris, and all things French (as I do), or a love of sweets, (or both), you will love this book. If you don’t, you will after reading Amy’s story. There’s a reason Amy writes Sweet Freak, the woman knows her sweets. 

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