Admit it, you’ve dreamed of leaving behind your everyday life and moving to France (or Italy, or the Caribbean or… fill in the blanks!). Haven’t we all? But for most of us, it’s just not feasible to up and completely leave one’s life, job, family, house etc and start again in another country. It’s why I choose to spend most of my summers in France. It’s why we bought a house in France and made sure it had a separate apartment just so that it can run as a vacation rental property and still accommodate us (because, practically we couldn’t simply afford to buy a house in France that wasn’t going to be rented out!). We, Neil and I, have a little bit of a part-time life in France because for the moment it’s all we can make work. Because, jobs, life etc…
So when I was offered a copy of Lisa Anselmo’s debut memoir My (Part-Time) Paris Life, I was really intrigued to read her story – as she most definitely started out as a part-time Parisienne who has turned into a full-time one. Anselmo started travelling to Paris on a regular basis over ten years ago for her job (covering fashion trade shows). Eventually, she realised she had a whole separate life in Paris – complete with friends – and faced the dilemma of where to really call “home”. Losing her mother to breast cancer was the impetus Anselmo needed to start building towards making the part-time Paris life a full-time one as she struggles to find her place in a world without her mum. Reeling from her loss, she buys an apartment in Paris and in 2014 quit her day job to pursue her dreams of writing full-time. And finally being able to call Paris more than a part-time home. Though she still divides her time between the US and France, Anselmo is most definitely much more than a part-time Parisian and, indeed, the subtitle of the book “How running away brought me home” shows how her giant leap of faith turned out to be the absolute right decision.
What I really enjoyed about this book was that it was not all rainbows and unicorns and seeing Paris through rose-coloured glasses. As someone who arrived in Paris aged 24 with nowhere to live, no friends, not a whole lot of money to my name and no job (I literally had a room in a rooming house for a month and the street address of the prof at the Sorbonne who I was to study with), I can attest to the fact that Paris is quite often hard work. As someone who has spent the better part of 2 years dealing with the red tape of buying and renovating a house in South West France, I can assure you that even a part-time life is, in fact, hard work. I love that Anselmo doesn’t skirt around the fact that moving to another country (even on a part-time basis) is hard. And you’re not always able to see the good things or remember the reasons why you moved there in the first place because, well, life in another language and culture is hard work.
This is the story of the ups and downs of everyday life in France. It’s a story of hope and self-discovery that anyone who has lost their path in life at some point will identify with. It’s a story that strongly resonated with me as someone who loves France despite how complicated, red-tape-filled and utterly illogical things sometimes seem there! Anyone who has spent any time living in France will identify with Anselmo’s challenges, while anyone who has visited and fallen in love with the country or who simply dreams of visiting will understand her infatuation with the place. Paris is addictive (even when she’s being hard work!).
A really inspiring honest read about passion and determination, that I’d highly recommend. You’ll find yourself not wanting to put the book down, rooting for Anselmo as she battles an ongoing leak in her apartment (really!) and hoping things work out for her. The story ends with her long-term visa finally being granted, really an ending that is just a beginning. I’ll continue to follow Anselmo’s part-time Paris life on her site (and if you’re interested in how it all began, her very first post is a great place to start too!).
US/Canadian readers – win a copy of My (Part-Time) Paris Life thanks to St Martin’s Press. Details here.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of My (Part-Time) Paris Life for review purposes. I was not asked to write about the book, nor am I receiving compensation for doing so. All opinions are 100% my own.