Sunday, December 11, 2011

Parisian by Heart by Mari Mann

A longing for Paris, France, leads a budding writer into her past lives to discover the genesis of this desire. Her guides on this journey include the famous French writer Marcel Proust, author of In Search of Lost Time and his companion Celeste, novelist Colette, the inimitable Charles Dickens, tortured artist Vincent van Gogh and a demon named Samael. She will visit Versailles at the time of the French Revolution, ride in a horse-drawn carriage down the Champs-Elysees at the height of the glittering Belle Epoch, watch van Gogh paint a masterpiece under the hot sun of Arles and finally, travel to the Paris of today. Like a precious artifact long buried, the past is uncovered and its influence on the present is unearthed through this journey of discovery and revelation.

With old world charm and a quirky set of events, this book is sure to capture the heart of many lovers of the French culture.

What I enjoyed most was the mood, the whimsical atmosphere that pervades the pages. Yes, of course, the plot is a bit defiant of logic, but it is amusing, and fun in such a way that the reader can easily put the rules of the universe aside and enjoy the ride. There are some wonderfully lush descriptions of Paris, and of some of the most famous people to have lived there, making the reader feel as if they had come to life around him or her. Since this is what the main character experiences, it shows you how nicely the whole plot is handled.

I do wish it’d been a little longer. Some of the scenes felt a bit rushed, and I would have liked to have spent more time with some of the characters that appear, like Van Gogh, or Dickens. That is the only real fault I found in the book, its brevity. Other than that, it was highly amusing to read and it allowed us to experience just a little of what it means to be a Parisian by heart.

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