I am a fool for any book that combines Paris and romance. I'll bet you are, too.
I haven't read them all, but I've come close. Some are silly but fun. Some are just plain bad.
"Blame it On Paris," a work of non-fiction by Laura Florand is good, funny and it makes you care about the people in its pages.
I'm picky about books. I insist on good writing. Since I write for a living, I will not tolerate weak prose or bad grammar and writers who use "entitled" when they mean "titled" or "flounder" when they mean "founder." Those two — and a few others — drive me insane.
Laura Florand can write.
She's funny, too, not self deprecating or anything, but blessed with a sense of irony. I like funny people. For one thing, they'll get my jokes. While reading "Blame it On Paris," I had the feeling the author would.
It didn't take me long to care about the characters. That is also essential for me. I recently read a book about romance in Paris that was little more than a lot of sex with a few paragraphs about Paris cafés and nightlife thrown in. Put me to sleep, which I guess is a good thing for a book that's on your nightstand.
Only that's not what I want. I want to look forward to the 20 minutes of reading I do before I fall asleep. It's my time to get comfortable and forget about the day.
"Blame it On Paris" made me look forward to those 20 minutes. Only — and I guess I should warn you about this — I did not want to put it down. I stayed up longer while reading it. More like 50 or 60 minutes.
Here's a very brief synopsis: Laura Florand is a smart and funny southern girl who meets a sensitive and sensible French man, Sébastien, in Paris. "Blame it on Paris" tells the story of their meeting and eventual marriage, which took four weddings, two on either side of the Atlantic. This love story is not without its obstacles, but it has a happy ending. And you get to know a lot of delightful people along the way. There is loss, too, along with all the love.
Why did I like Laura and Sébastien so much? I guess in part because I could identify with Laura. I may have a few years on her and I grew up in the north, but it appears that we both have catholic interests (in the universal sense) and Catholic upbringings (gotta be there for that).
Sébastien seemed wise, too, not just street smart but people smart, a bit like my husband. I found myself falling just a little bit, too. (Sorry, Laura!)
I've exchanged a few e-mails with Laura and it turns out she's every bit as likable as she is in her book. Visit her site, which includes a blog and see for yourself. (Did I mention you will never look at tossed salads in quite the same way after you read this book?)
On another Paris-related note: French Kitchen in American now has links on the the France Magazine Web site and on The French Journal blog. Please visit these sites if you haven't already.