Tag Archives: Paris

Paris Was the Place

Paris Was The Place

Storytelling.

“Paris was the Place” is a story about a poetry teacher, Willow (Willie) Pears, who moves to France to be near her older brother and her college roommate.   It’s 1989 and she teaches poetry at a University and begins volunteering at an immigration center where girls who are in France illegally are kept while they await their asylum hearings.  She works with the girls to find the words to tell their stories which they will tell the judge.

An integral part of the story is the relationship that Willie and her brother, Luke, have with their mother and father while growing up, and the relationship she has with her brother in the present.  She is still hurting from her mother’s death and feeling estranged from her father.  Luke is her connection to the past and her reason for being in France at the present.  Willie navigates Paris streets and neighborhoods, the Paris immigration system for the girls whose stories she elicits, a new relationship with a divorced immigration lawyer with a young son, and her brother’s mysterious illness.  She becomes entranced by the lives of the girls seeking asylum and goes a little too far to help one of them.  It jeopardizes her new relationship with Macon, the lawyer, and her friends, but she is forgiven.

Her brother’s illness is a pall that hangs over the entire book and sometimes paralyzes Willie.  But Willie is awarded the opportunity to go to India to meet with the daughter of the famous poet, Sarojini, in the hopes that she will be trusted to write a book about her story, and she is able to make the trip reluctantly.  Willie loved the poetry written by this Indian woman and is honored that she is able to take the words home with her study.

Willie has always been enamored with words and their meanings.  In this book she gives words and meaning to the lives of the girls at the immigration center, to her mother’s life and death, and to her brother’s illness.  Storytelling.  This book is about a teacher and storyteller.  It’s about the power of words in relationships and it’s about forgiveness and hope.

SYNOPSIS

With her new novel, Paris Was the Place (Knopf, 2013), Susan Conley offers a beautiful meditation on how much it matters to belong: to a family, to a country, to any one place, and how this belonging can mean the difference in our survival. Novelist Richard Russo calls Paris Was the Place, “by turns achingly beautiful and brutally unjust, as vividly rendered as its characters, whose joys and struggles we embrace as our own.”

When Willie Pears begins teaching at a center for immigrant girls in Paris all hoping for French asylum, the lines between teaching and mothering quickly begin to blur. Willie has fled to Paris to create a new family, and she soon falls for Macon, a passionate French lawyer. Gita, a young girl at the detention center, becomes determined to escape her circumstances, no matter the cost. And just as Willie is faced with a decision that could have dire consequences for Macon and the future of the center, her brother is taken with a serious, as-yet-unnamed illness. The writer Ayelet Waldman calls Paris Was the Place “a gorgeous love story and a wise, intimate journal of dislocation that examines how far we’ll go for the people we love most.” Named on the Indie Next List for August 2013 and on the Slate Summer Reading List, this is a story that reaffirms the ties that bind us to one another.

Release date: August 7, 2013.

Pages: 354

Publisher link: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/204489/paris-was-the-place-by-susan-conley

ISBN: 978-0-307-59407-5

Buying links:

http://www.randomhouse.com/book/204489/paris-was-the-place-by-susan-conley

http://www.amazon.com/Paris-Was-Place-Susan-Conley/dp/0307594076

http://www.amazon.com/Paris-Was-the-Place-ebook/dp/B00BVJG4CM/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/paris-was-the-place-susan-conley/1113784351?ean=9780307594075

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/paris-was-the-place-susan-conley/1113784351?ean=9780385349659

https://itunes.apple.com/be/book/paris-was-the-place/id623835456?mt=11

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780307594075/susan-conley/paris-was-place

 

Susan Conley2Author bio

Susan Conley is a writer and teacher. Her memoir, The Foremost Good Fortune (Knopf 2011), chronicles her family’s experiences in modern China as well as her journey through breast cancer. The Oprah Magazine listed it as a Top Ten Pick, Slate Magazine chose it as “Book of the Week,” and The Washington Post called it “a beautiful book about China and cancer and how to be an authentic, courageous human being.” Excerpts from the memoir have been published in The New York Times Magazine and The Daily Beast.

Susan’s writing has also appeared in The Paris Review, The Harvard Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Gettysburg Review, The North American Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. A native of Maine, she earned her B.A. from Middlebury College and her M.F.A. in creative writing from San Diego State University. After teaching poetry and literature at Emerson College in Boston, Susan returned to Portland, where she cofounded and served as executive director of The Telling Room, a nonprofit creative writing center. She currently teaches at The Telling Room and at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Program.

Contact Information

www.SusanConley.com

Facebook

Twitter

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I’m thankful to be part of the France Book Tour!

Paris Was The Place Banner

One more week…

unemployment
Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

January 30 I start my new job.  I simply cannot wait!  It has been 8 months that I have been unemployed.  Hard to believe!  But now I’m just tickled to be starting.  I went on Friday for pre-employment stuff – health and drug screening, HR form-filling, and information about the two days of general orientation for all new hires.  So tomorrow I have to go in to get my TB test evaluated and then I have one more week of unemployed “bliss”!

So what will I do this week?  Monday nights I have choir, so I’ll stay at my parent’s house and hang out with them.  I will hopefully watch a movie or two. I’m hoping for some “what not to wear” time with my closet and then I need to shop a little for some updated business-y clothes. I would love to bake and prepare meals for the freezer – maybe something from my French book. I am going to the Cities for some celebrating with Deadra and family. I need to catch up on my magazine reading – goodness! – and then hopefully start a good book.

Speaking of books, I am so excited that Wallace’s next readalong is “A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway!  After reading “The Paris Wife” I decided that it would be the Hemingway book that I would most like to read.  So I bought it (for my iPad!) and I’m ready to start the readalong in February!  Yippee!

The Artist (film)
Image via Wikipedia

And speaking of movies (was I?), I went to see “The Artist” last night – and it was just so good.  Amazing actors, beautiful music, funny “dialogue,” and a great story. Absolutely a wonderful movie experience.  It made me want to watch a bunch of really old movies – the good ones.  Ah…

Well, I’m off… to read, play word games, and watch some old episodes of How I Met Your Mother.  One more week of doing whatever I want – before this new life begins!

Author: “The Paris Wife”

I love to meet authors, or if I can’t meet them personally, to listen to them speak about their books and their passion for writing.  I find it fascinating.

Paula McLain, author

In the beginning of December I noticed a sign at the Rochester Public Library that Paula McLain, author of “The Paris Wife” was going to be speaking in January.  I knew that Deadra loved this book and so I put in my request for it and invited Deadra down for the afternoon event.  I started reading the book right before Christmas and ate it up.  It was hard to remember that it was historical fiction and not a memoir or biography of the woman who was Ernest Hemingway’s first wife.  It is a beautifully written book and made me want to know more about Papa.

Paula talked about how she got the idea to write the book from Hadley’s point of view and how she read thousands of pages of letters that Hadley had written to Ernest while they were courting.  Unfortunately, Hadley destroyed her letters from Ernest after their messy divorce (reminded me a little of the Love Letter Bonfire that Beth and I had a few years ago!), but as a result, she really got an understanding of how Hadley thought and felt.

Ernest Hemingway's 1923 passport photo
Ernest Hemingway's passport photo 1923 Image via Wikipedia

Paula recommended we look at Hemingway’s passport photo from 1923 and challenged us to see if we didn’t get a little swoony at the sight.  Deadra and I agreed that it didn’t do it for us, but I found this picture of him in 1921 that does make him look a little dreamy.  (Sorry it’s so small!)

Ernest Hemingway 1921

I also found this wedding photo from Hadley and Ernest’s wedding, which I thought was pretty fun.

Hadley and Ernest Hemingway, Wedding Day 1921

It was fascinating to listen to Paula talk about her passion she found while researching for this book and I’m glad that I read the book before listening to her discussion.  I also liked to hear the reaction she is getting from the descendents of the Hemingways.  Made me tear up a little!

I will read Hemingway – Deadra and I think “A Moveable Feast,” his last book – sounds like a great one to read, so it will go on my TBR list!

As I was listening to her speak, I wondered if I could challenge myself to find an author discussion/book reading each month for the year 2012… I know I will keep looking for them and going when I can!  I just love hearing authors talk about writing!  If you click on the picture of Paula McLain above, it is linked to an interview done with her on The Hemingway Project blog.  Good stuff!  

Off to read!

Books: Flood and Food

The first book I read in 2012 was one written by and about the Rushford Volunteer Fire Department and their response to the flood of 2007.  Their thoughts were collected by Bonnie Flaig Prinsen and the book was published with help from the Rushford Community Foundation.  It is a great document for posterity and it was good to read it.  I entered the information into Goodreads, which is something I haven’t done before, so I hope it gets other views!

The next book I had was terribly overdue to the library so I did some intense browsing/speed reading so I could return it today.

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home CooksView a preview of this book online

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

It was a great book about creating meals from real ingredients.  It is something that I like to do – bake bread, make cakes from scratch – and I thought it was very well-written.  I loved reading about the evolution of cake mixes and how in the 1950s the women could tell the difference and didn’t like that they just had to add water, so they created them so that we could add eggs, oil AND water.  The rest of the ingredients should read flour, sugar, salt, soda, but the ingredient list goes on and on.  Crazy.

It was a great book and would be a great gift for someone who is wanting to change their fast-food ways and to learn how simple it is to really prepare real food.

Next I plan to read my back issues of magazines and dig into the pile of books that are on my nightstand!  They are books I own, books I was given as gifts, and books I borrowed.  And I’ll read the next book for book club – The Center of Everything.  Again, I love the book club in a bag concept!

Cover of "The Sun Also Rises"
Cover of The Sun Also Rises

On a book and movie related note – I mentioned that I read and loved “The Paris Wife” and I’m excited about meeting the author on Sunday!  Tuesday night I watched the movie “Midnight in Paris” (love it! own it!) and watched carefully the scenes featuring Ernest Hemingway and I ordered the movie “The Sun Also Rises,” based on a Hemingway book of the same name.  Very interesting to put it all together – Hemingway living in Paris, with his first wife, drinking in bars and his melancholic diatribes, and the wounded expatriate living in Paris and going to Spain for the bull fights.  I hope to actually READ some Hemingway in 2012 – not just read about him!  I love it when one book leads you to another…

Off to read!

 

Books: Lunch in Paris – A Love Story, with Recipes

Cover of "Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, w...
Cover via Amazon

by Elizabeth Bard

I LOVED this book!  And how perfect that I finished it late last night (an UNPUTDOWNABLE?) and today I can post a few words for Words and Peace’s “I Love France” meme!

Elizabeth Bard was an American living/working/studying in England when she saw a man at an academic conference and on the last day exchanged emails with him, which led to a flurry of flirty emails and eventually a weekend trip to Paris for a lunch date.  This book chronicles their life together – from this first date – and tells the story through food.

This book is quite like another book I love – Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life” – which owns space on my cookbook shelf.  Early on in “Lunch in Paris,” (after I started dog-earing recipes that I wanted to try in chapter one, chapter two, etc.) I realized that I would be purchasing this book for the same reason.  Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes, Mamy Simone’s Tabouleh, Eggplant Stuffed with Quinoa, Lemon Sorbet and Vodka (inspired!)… the list goes on and on.  Some of the recipes look a little complicated but most simply enhance the flavors of whatever is being served (wild boar or haricot verts – I love haricot verts!).

Elizabeth Bard is able to simply and beautifully write about what it means to be an American living in France.  I don’t even know what else to say about that!  She writes eloquently about what it’s like to have parents in US who wonder what she’s getting herself into, cultural expectations of Americans and French, how cultural differences impact relationships and attitudes towards work and happiness.

It is an excellent little book filled with intelligent insights.  Adriana Trigiani (one of my favorite authors) has a blurb on the back that says “It’s Eat, Stay, Love with a side of spiced apricots.”  I thought about that as I read the book.  One of my pet peeves is when people set out to do something amazing with the sole intention of writing a book at the completion of the amazing feat.  It feels contrived and unnatural.  I felt that way about “Eat, Pray, Love” and “The Happiness Project.”  I didn’t feel that way about this book at all.  And in the last chapter she writes about how the “cookbook” idea came to be – during a New Year’s Eve feast that lasted for eight hours.  Yes, they stopped eating at around 4AM.  Can you imagine?  Each hour a new course was brought out to be savored and enjoyed.

This book is a joy.  Savor it.

Off to read!

The Art of French Kissing

Eiffel Tower, seen from the champ de Mars, Par...
Image via Wikipedia

Not a how-to manual, but a cute little read about a girl, almost 30, whose life appears to be crumbling around her – her fiance’ cancels the wedding and kicks her out of their home and she loses her job in PR with a Boy Band record label. So when her friend from college offers her a temporary job helping her out in Paris, she jumps on a plane and attempts to forget the worries she is leaving behind.

A cute, easy read. I supplemented the experience by watching Craig Ferguson for the first time, because his show was shot in Paris for the week! I hear good things about the Ferguson but as a Fallon lover it’s hard to convert.  So I relied on the DVR for the week and listened to Craig Ferguson. It really did add to the reading experience, and make me want to go to Paris!

After I go to Ireland, in search of that wild Irish man. 🙂

Off to read!