Paris Letters by Janice Macleod
Review copy provided by publisher
Pan Macmillan, March 2014
Synopsis- “How much money does it take to change your life?”
Unfulfilled at her job and unsuccessful in the dating department, Janice MacLeod doodled this question at her desk. Then she decided to make it a challenge.
Over the next few months, with a little math and a lot of determination, she saved up enough to buy two years of freedom in Europe.
But she had only been in Paris for a few days when she met a handsome butcher (with a striking resemblance to Daniel Craig)—and never went home again.
A love story in the vein of Almost French and Lunch in Paris, Paris Letters (February 4) is a joyful romp through the City of Light, and an inspiring look at what can happen when we dare to create the life we want.
Realizing that her Parisian love affair would be forever, MacLeod began her own business on Etsy, creating beautifully-illustrated letters from Paris inspired by artists like Percy Kelly and Beatrix Potter. She now paints and writes full-time, bringing beautiful things to subscribers around the world and reviving the lost art of letter-writing.
Review- “How much money does it take to change your life?”
That’s the question that prompted Canadian copywriter Janice to completely overhaul her life, make a plan and work at her dream to pay for her own European sabbatical. Working in a corporate firm, Janice is fed up with her job and dreams of packing up her home, submitting her resignation and jumping on a flight to Europe for an adventure. She realises there’s a lot of hard work ahead of her to get to that point but she admirably commits to her goal and methodically and purposefully implements a plan to make her dream a reality.
She de-clutters her home, her mind and (some of) her emotional baggage; saves up a lot of cash to allow for 2 years of travel and is finally able to buy her tickets and depart. Her first stop is Paris and despite her battle with the language and the customs she slowly begins to fall in love with the city… and the handsome butcher on Rue Mouffetard.
Oh how I loved this book. It was just the perfect mix of humour, wonder and an engaging voice that made Janice’s memoir so interesting. With my (2013) European honeymoon still fresh in my mind, it was a joy to envision the places that Janice peruses during her time in Paris. I was also excited to recognise Rue Mouffetard where Janice meets Christophe. My husband and I stopped at one of those chicken stands and purchased a bag of those yummy baked potatoes dripping with chicken juice (I know it sounds pretty gross… but it was delicious!).
I could completely relate with her about the struggle to learn a foreign language. After taking a one-week Italian language class with my husband in Rome last year I felt completely overwhelmed by even attempting a conversation with a native speaker. Like Janice I could speak it and read it but as soon as someone spoke to me I was completely baffled as to what they were saying! It’s so hard to decipher the words spoken in a foreign language and then to actually make sense of those words! Unlike me however, Janice perseveres and her extended break in Paris allows her to practice and learn and develop her confidence in the French language.
The love story between Janice and her handsome, Daniel-Craig look-alike butcher was so lovely to see unfold. How on earth do two people who speak different languages fall in love? Well, Janice and Christophe manage to do just that and they get along perfectly fine! What I also found really interesting was the letter-writing business that Janice founds to fund her stay in Paris. She combines her love of art; writing and Paris into a job that she loves that can be shared with subscribers around the world. What a great idea!
I think this book was just good timing for me… while I sat at home on the back patio, listening to the rain patter on the tin roof and eating vegemite toast I could be transported into charming Paris. I could reminisce on my time in Europe while living vicariously through Janice’s adventures- without even leaving the comfort of my home.
It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for a good travel memoir and this one was right up my alley. Janice has a great writing voice; she’s open, insightful and honest. I think I’ll even subscribe to her blog!
Paris Letters can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers