Always on the search for good books about France, I came across Parisian Charm School: French Secrets for Cultivating Love, Joy, and That Certain ‘je ne sais quoi‘*.
It’s All in the Title
Interestingly, in hindsight, the title gives some indication of what it is about, but also (importantly) the style of telling. I enjoyed this rather unusual read (or I wouldn’t be reviewing it here), but like my previous review of Whispering in French, I wasn’t sure I was going to.
The style is different, rather unique, in that on one hand it is little vignettes about France and the French. Something I adore reading about. On the other hand it is also part practical and ‘how to’. That is the Parisian Charm School bit.
A Style Rethink
I found it initially strange to be reading about an aspect of French life and then at the end given some ideas how I too could partake of this way of doing things. There was a feeling of having to mentally change gears, from gentle read to almost text book (though the style was definitely not abrupt like a school book).
Each chapter told a story, usually from a French friend or acquaintance. Then there followed a short Parisian Charm School Lesson. This is sort of a lesson learned, as in why the French do what they do. This is followed by a Parisian Charm School Practique which gives tips and suggestions on what you might do to better your own life, e.g. make you more charming in the long run.
At first I couldn’t say I liked these Charm School add ons, but as I read more I realised it had more to do with the layout of the book rather than the writings themselves. I was simply not used to reading this way.
Parisian Charm School Charm
I began to open my mind to the thought process behind it and could see why the author had written it in this style. A truly unique way, and one that did grab my attention.
The stories and thus insights the author has collected in this book are a window into a locals life. Those she has obviously met in her travels in France inspire her view, wisdom and suggestions. In addition and in consequence, the author includes names of the must see and hidden gems to visit, as well as tours on offer, books and blogs to read and more. I ended up taking lots of notes. So part Parisian Charm School practique but also part tour guide.
A fun rounded reading adventure offered on many levels. Hence the long title.
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