Special Report: Mademoiselle London ©

Luck.
Serendipity.
Happenstance.
Fortune.

You know how sometimes you hear stories that make you think, “Wow. This was no accident! This was meant to be.”

Some days I can (and want) to go the other way: I can just as easily get behind the idea that everything is random and chaotic, hazardous and accidental. Especially about bad things. Who wants to believe that bad things happen on purpose? Not me.

But today I want to share a story that is about good things, serendipity, connections, meaningfulness, and a seeming plan. In short, something that seems full of kismet, or as it was put in the book The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, maktub. It’s the Arabic word for “destiny” — literally, “it is written.”

As a lover of books and a hopeful writer wannabe, I appreciate the idea that our lives can be written like a story, if not each word, sentence, and paragraph completely set down, then at least as a healthy plot outline which we can follow, and that if we are attuned to our lives and inner sense of being and purpose, we can sense the narrative arc that we came into this life intending. Not to say there are not plot twists and turns along the way. I think that any author worth his or her salt will say that even though they go in intending to write one thing, sometimes another is what comes out. I venture to think our lives are similar.

In the story I plan to share here, a protagonist named MADEMOISELLE LONDON © was born.

The creation of Katya Jezzard-Payraud and Franki Goodwin, Mademoiselle London is the British Everygirl who has come to Paris to try her lot, as many before her, in the expatriate life.

What she finds is that she Hearts Paris, sometimes (quelquefois).

Images © Mademoiselle London, from the website, mademoisellelondon.fr

A little over a month ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with the illustrator of MADEMOISELLE LONDON ♥ PARIS (quelquefois/sometimes), Franki Goodwin. I was able to discover more about her and Katya’s brainchild and how it came to be.

But first, a description.

What is the book MADEMOISELLE LONDON ♥ PARIS (quelquefois/sometimes)?

Part grown-up picture book, part book of prose poetry and modern verse, MADEMOISELLE LONDON ♥ PARIS (quelquefois/sometimes) is most of all a tale about a young woman from London who chronicles and expresses the particular joys and difficulties of what it is for her to make a life in Paris when not Parisienne, but hoping to find her place in the City of Light.

The website/press release download describes the book as follows:

Written in English AND French, “Mademoiselle London ♥ Paris (sometimes)” presents the opening chapter of her new life in Paris featuring drawings and poems in which our heroine – with her heart on her sleeve – wrestles with loneliness, language and some very dodgy characters.

Who is Mademoiselle London?

The French motto is “Liberté, Eglaité, Fraternité.” If there are three words that can sum up the total of Mademoiselle London, they are, as Franki told me, “Hilarity, Tenacity, Generosity.” Mlle. London is the girl who will probably never completely fit in, but who is going to give it her best try. She may not be cool, but she is savvy, and is going to make her way in Paris.

Why should I buy this book?

I think you should buy this book because it is a perfect coordination of utterly charming color and black and white illustrations with insightful, entertaining, and cheeky writing, and it is a visual delight as careful consideration has been put into the layout, typeset, quality of paper, and every other aspect you could think of when it comes to making a printed work of art.

Even though I am a 42-year-old American woman, and not the Gen Y London mademoiselle that is the voice in the verse, I could relate to the events and the emotions present.

One of my favorite poems is at the end of the book, and is entitled, “You Know That Book You Wrote About Paris? Well I’m Here Now and It’s Nothing Like You Said It Was.”

It’s a conversation between Mademoiselle London and Papa Hemingway. Here, in part (page 31 of the book):

I say
Take me into a wooden nook
Tell me with your peanut breath
Tell me I was right to come here
Tell me I have not made the biggest mistake of my life
Tell me I am welcome
Tell me I will soon feel at home in this scary place
With big grey buildings and hard grey rain
Tell me I will find a person to love me again

And Hemingway says
Shut the fuck up

What Papa continues to tell her is priceless advice.You’ll have to buy the book to read what he says, but the kicker line for me, the one that made me get a little teary when I read it, was, “Paris is your maternity ward and you have just been born.”

Good, good stuff.

A lot of the works remind me of a 1960s poet I read in high school, Richard Brautigan, but the poems also recall those of William Carlos Williams, e.e. cummings, and other modern verse poets, all of whom I like a lot. The poems are not short and gratuitous, however. There is both a sophistication and tenderness in the writing, as well as great humor. Stephen Fry and the self-appointed, old-school Poetry Guardians might take issue with the works within, but I found them witty, intelligent, and strong examples of contemporary verse.

I don’t think that the goal of the book is to be a great work of poetry, however.

As the creators of this book have said, the goal is “to connect French and English people and to have a bit of a laugh together.” To my view, the book does just that.

So what about the “kismet” part of this all? How does that work in?

Well, as of a little more than a year ago, Katya and Franki did not know one another.

Katya & Franki — Photo courtesy of les mademoiselles

Franki is more or less a Scot (her own words were that she is “kind-of Scottish”), and Scotland is where she hailed from before relocating to London, where she lived and worked for ten years in promotional media and graphic design. A trip touring the globe followed London, a time in which she renewed her love of drawing. The tour preceded her ending up in Paris just about a year ago, a place she grew up connected to as her mother is a Francophile and French scholar.

Katya is a Londoner who has lived in Paris for five years, married to a Frenchman and mother to two young boys. Since I did not have the pleasure of meeting Katya in person, and have not yet been able to ask her all kinds of questions, I know less of her story. I just know that she has a background in writing — as a journalist and also as a film and television writer — and that she is very humorous about life, the universe, and everything, as evidenced from her work in the book.

What gets me, and makes me want to shout “KISMET!” is how these two met, and how quickly they bonded and came up with the idea of Mademoiselle London, and then brought it all to fruition.

This first volume of theirs and the alter ego Mademoiselle London were born just a few short months after Franki and Katya had an initial meeting in a Ménilmontant café in the 20th arrondissment of Paris. Franki and Katya got together because of friends of friends. Their mutual friends suggested they meet one another, thought they might get on. I’m guessing little did they know they were playing a pivotal role in the birth of a book, a concept, a personality named “Mademoiselle London.” When Katya and Franki did meet, and as they talked about their respective backgrounds and current situations, they found they had a common and instant connection in their feelings about and experiences of Paris, as well as about being two mademoiselles specifically from London in Paris. As Franki shared her drawings with Katya, and as Katya shared her verses with Franki, they realized they had a good project idea on their hands, one that seemed to flow out of them as if it had been intended that they work with one another on just such a project as this. You know, like it was maktub. Rather than just sit and simply talk about it endlessly, however, as creative people with interesting ideas are often wont to do, they jumped right in and started to work, matching poem to picture and picture to poem in a rapidly developing back-and-forth fashion, sometimes with queer synchronization — the kind of thing where one person says “I was just thinking of that” or “See what I wrote” and it matches perfectly with what the other person just drew.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like something that was meant to be, especially when I see the final results. They are fantastic.

A Mademoiselle London poster, available at the online store.

What’s next?

The good news is, there are more volumes in the works, and hopes and dreams for Mademoiselle London to be all she can be. Who knows? Maybe we will one day see a film with Mademoiselle London, a sort of “Bridget Jones Does Paris” kind of thing, but better, I’m sure. All things in their good time, but I think that Franki and Katya’s alter-ego is on to something, and I wish them all the best of success.

Lots is happening on the web concerning Mademoiselle London with reviews galore popping all over the Paris Blog Neighborhood and on other websites (see the Facebook page for Mademoiselle London, as well as the links I have put in below, for more reviews).

A Party

There will also be a gathering to celebrate the debut of this volume here in Paris next week, on the evening of Thursday, December 16. If you are in Paris and would like more information about attending, you can email me via the Contact page here on my blog, or go to the Mademoiselle London sites. The information on the celebration is on their Facebook page events calendar, for one.

Where To Get the Book

You can find information on purchasing the book on the website — it’s available for purchase online, but also in several bookshops (so far only in Paris) as listed on the website.

Even More Info… and a giveaway

Here are a couple of blogs I read which have featured MADEMOISELLE LONDON ♥ PARIS (quelquefois/sometimes), too.

Adam of Invisible Paris has written a succinct review of the book on his site.

Andi is giving away two copies of the book. The deadline for entry for the drawing is Thursday, December 16 by noon Pacific time, so get over to Andi’s blog to try to win a copy!

If you see or know of any other reviews for this book which you like, please link them into the comments! I’ll add them to the post.

This book would make a terrific Christmas gift for any Francophile, especially one learning French as the book is in dual languages, but I think that anyone who has ever felt like the odd girl out, the one that does not quite belong, will appreciate this little gem of a book. Go get it.

Thanks for reading…

I hope you have enjoyed this review as much as I enjoyed reading the book and meeting Franki. I’m going to be at the celebration on Thursday, so I hope you can join me there.

I apologize for not updating on my own existence here in Paris in some time. November was a pretty crazy month with working on a draft of a novel for NaNoWriMo (I wrote over 50K words of fiction, though!). I have been babysitting, meeting people, and I also spent the better part of the month sick. All of those things have meant less time for focusing on writing here. I have been on Facebook and Twitter, though, so I invite you to connect with me there, if you want to keep tabs on me in other places.

I’ll be back to posting here soon. I have things to say. In the meantime, get this book and read it. You won’t be disappointed.

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33 thoughts on “Special Report: Mademoiselle London ©

  1. Wow what a great review!! You’ve definitely sold it!

    • Thanks, Lindsey! It really is such a delightful book, and I can’t wait to see what happens to Mademoiselle London as a result of this book and the others to follow!

  2. sounds good and the London/Hemingway conversation teaser alone was enough to get me interested. Great stuff, indeed!

    • Hey Forest! I am so glad I put the Hem one in, then. The rest of the poems are similar in their playfulness and transparency of emotion. Thanks for stopping by, reading, and commenting! 🙂

  3. I know I say this all the time, but this was a truly amazing post. I am speechless it is just so damn good. Karin it doesn’t matter if it take a few days or a few weeks between posts, this is your space and you own it. No apologies necessary, when you write those that truly admire you and support you and are fans of you and your writing will be right here to read, absorb and love it – trust me!

    • Oh, Andi. *blushes* Thank you. Your comments make this geek-girl, hopeful writer wannabe feel empowered and, well, a little embarrassed, but also thankful. Thanks for those kind words.Yes, I am feeling more and more like I do indeed own this space. 🙂 I am glad to have had this chance to write a review for something I really enjoyed reading, too. It’s nice to have projects like this: reasons for writing. I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle with some of my own brainchildren, too, though, so watch out. 😀

  4. ...m...

    Yes. Trust her. The Universe doesn’t make mistakes. Keep going, Karin. And take us with you when you can. ~grin~ It’s what you were meant to do. Maktub. Allons-y!

    • …m…!!!!!

      Oh so lovely to see you here, my dear friend. Thank you for reading and commenting, and with such kind words, too. I will keep going, and I’d love to have company along the way. I was so pleased to learn about Katya and Franki’s story, for it really did make me feel that “it is written” and that there are great things for everyone to do. I’m narrowing in on mine, for sure. 🙂 I hope you are doing well.

      Take care, …m… .

  5. Dianne

    Wonderful writing!! Great review!! Hope you are feeling better and take care as it is very cold and snowy according to the weather report. So appreciate your efforts..Dianne

    • Hi Dianne!

      I’m glad I am doing better, too. 🙂 It *has* been cold and snowy here in Paris. Something I hope to write a little about, or at least post a couple of Ghetto Paris photos of the ‘hood in its snowy, slushy glory. I’m happy you liked the review, and thank you for commenting such. 🙂

  6. Thank you Karin! I am in complete agreement with Andi, it’s such a lovely article.. I can say that even though I am the subject I hope! And thanks so much for your amazing support. Keep on keeping on xxxxx

    • Hi Franki!

      I’m glad you like it and I hope Katya does, too. 🙂 And yes, of course you can say that even tho’ you are the subject, lol. You are so welcome. It’s a pleasure to support something worthy of it.

      Bisous!
      Karin

  7. Just read your review (over coffee, which I sorely needed this a.m.). You’re right to be proud of this entry. Sounds like a great book and I’m so impressed by these two women who had an idea and put it in action. Many people (ummm, talking about me), just talk and talk and talk about ideas but never do anything about it. Need to pick up some copies for Xmas!

    • Hello, Ms. Amy75!

      Thank you for reading. 😉 I needed a wee bit of coffee, too, but just happily, not so sorely, hee hee! But yes, the head was a little achy and fuzzy and needed caffeine, for sure. Silly Fitou. I’m glad that you were able to enjoy reading this over that coffee. I’m also glad you picked up on how Franki and Katya really jumped on acting upon their ideas, instead of just sitting on them (could I have used more phrasal verbs with “on”? LOL). Implementation of ideas is just so damn hard sometimes, so I really am impressed with their DOING, too.

      You take care, and thank you for your comments (as well as your lovely hospitality. I had a great time talking with you last night).
      Bisous!

  8. This was a really great review, Karin. Wow. Thanks for the time and care you put into your writing and for sharing it with us. I’m sorry I won’t be here for the party next week, but you’ve definitely piqued my interest about the book. What a nice story.

    • Hi Sion! 🙂

      I’m glad you liked the review and thank you for the props on the writing. Knowing a little bit about the kinds of reading you like, and also that you view Paris (im)perfectly ;-), I really think you’d like the book a lot. It’s so nice to see people find their “thing,” do something with it, and have it succeed! (And though it is in the early stages, the press is really positive to the book. I think a lot is going to happen with it…)

      You take care (and I might be seeing you tonight, I think. With Ms. Thomas? Maybe? If so, see you then, Sion).

  9. Thank you so much for the lovely review, Karin. Me and Franki really appeciate all the positive feedback for our book. I think you’re owed a little serendipity for your novel now! Look forward to meeting you in person very soon. Lots of love – K (50% of Mademoiselle London) xxxxx

    • Hi Katya! (aka 50% of Mademoiselle London) 😉

      I’m glad to know you liked the piece as well, and thanks to for the good wishes for my “novel” (still putting it in quotes as it feels rather like a lump of clay at the moment — lots to work with, but nothing in its right form. I need the positive vibes. :D). I’m looking forward to meeting you, too, Katya! See you soon.

  10. Carole

    I saw this book somewhere else and the illustrations caught my eye. Thanks for the in-depth review. Your recommendations are much appreciated.

    P.S. How nice to see the snowflake effect once again on your blog.

    • Hi Carole!

      The illustrations are very eye-catching, indeed. They remind me of something from The New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly — sophisticated. But they are very quirky, too, and the colors really pop.

      You’re welcome for the in-depth story-within-the-story. 🙂 My kinda thing, yanno. 😉

      Aren’t those snowflakes cool? They just showed up again. I must have left the settings checked from last year, lol!

      Take care, m’dear.

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  12. First off, I love your freakin’ snow! Trop cool!

    And, sigh, I’m sort of in love now. I’ve never heard of Mlle London but it’s going directly on my Christmas wish list! Merci, Karin!

    I hope your ‘season of solitude’ is going beautifully!

    A bientot,
    Amy

    • Hey there, Sweet Freak! 🙂

      I’m glad you like the snow. It’s trippy, huh. I am so glad that you enjoyed the review, and yup. I know you will enjoy the book. It’s trés cool.

      The season of solitude is off to a good start!

      Take care, and hope the sweetie eating is going well! 😉
      Cheers.
      K

  13. I won Mlle London’s book in a giveaway! I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Thanks for your comment on my blog! No, I have not had any experiences with Frenchies so far. I have been warned, though! I’ll take it to heart. You’re right; for now I’m sticking with cheese and chocolate 😉

    • Hi Brenna! COOL! You won the book! Was it at Misadventures with Andi? I need to check in there to see what’s going on… You are welcome for the comment. I hope I can visit again very soon.

      I think you are wise with sticking with cheese and chocolate. 🙂 Maybe an occasional glass of wine… And the odd mussel or two (I actually like those, lol).

      Have a great weekend. 🙂

  14. Mademoiselle London sounds like such a fun character. What a hilarious conversation with her and Hemminway! If only I was in Paris, I’d be there for the party with bells on 😉

    • Hi there, Brittany! It’s nice to see you here. I bet you have been baking up a storm for the holidays! 🙂 I need to come over to check out what you have been making! Oh the conversation with Hemingway is very fun to read. I need to write an update about the party here… I shall see what I can do in the next couple of days.

      I hope that you have a happy holiday! I will come and check out what you have been baking in just a little bit. 😉

      Take care!

  15. Karin, I’m back to say thank you! I got your comment on my blog and had a little giggle. I felt so blog lonely, and you really helped! Now I am so involved in other blogs; I actually feel like they are friends. And I will continue to pop back in here to check up on your posts. Have a Merry Christmas.

    • I’m glad I helped, and I can see how involved you are in other blogs! It’s been fantastic to watch. 🙂 It is so true! People become your “imaginary friends.” 🙂 The thing is, over the past five or so years, I have met many people in person now, too, and they are just as fantastic in person as on the page. I hope you will get to do the same.

      You have a very Merry Christmas, too, and keep on bloggin’. 😉

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