Special Report — PARIS, Paris: Journey into the City of Light

Okay, kids. As promised, here is my review of  PARIS, Paris: Journey into the City of Light.

PARIS, Paris: Journey into the City of Light
by David Downie, 2011, New York: Broadway Books
Photographs by Alison Harris
Foreward by Diane Johnson, author of Le Divorce

PARIS, Paris: Journey into the City of Light is a collection of 31 essays about La Ville Lumière in which historical and personal narratives enlighten readers about Paris’s present. Author David Downie has distilled decades of study and experience and blended it with his unique adventures as a 25-year resident of Paris, resulting in chapters that are not only rich, but accessible reading because of Downie’s down-to-earth personality infusing the text. Downie writes in the chapter entitled “The Janus City,” “… in this old Europe of which Paris is still the cultural capital, to look forward we must first look back” (p. 284). The essays, which are anchored in Downie’s own curiosity about and explorations of the city, are ballasted in historical perspective. Fine photos by his wife and professional photographer, Alison Harris, anchor each chapter with a unique perspective. Like a good whisky, the reading goes down smoothly, and one feels satisfied from first taste to lasting finish.

For more specifics, keep on reading…

© Alison Harris -- All Rights Reserved

A long time ago in a universe far, far away, I used to be a single malt whiskey aficionado. Partly because my family heritage has evolved from the Highlands and seasides of northern Scotland, and partly because it is intriguing stuff with quite a kick, I was into exploring and tasting varieties of whiskies for a couple of years back in the early 2000s. It’s something of a hobby for the well-off, however, and I have never really been a woman of great means. In addition, life had other plans for me as I moved away from the city where I had joined the local Scotch Whisky Society (Tulsa, Oklahoma, of all places), and health and other considerations have steered me away from imbibing alcohol in general.

I still remember the warmth of whisky in the belly, however, and the variety of unique and very grown-up flavors which whisky imparts on the tongue.

As I read David Downie’s PARIS, Paris I could not help but make mental comparisons between what the Scots’ Gaelic calls usquebaugh, “the water of life,” and the essays which I was reading. There is a richness, a wealth, to be found in this volume that could only come from someone who has painstakingly compiled knowledge about Paris, distilled and blended it by his experiences and perspective, and aged it in the quality cask of his mind before spilling words out onto the page which make a person feel like partaking in a comfortable chair next to a crackling fire. The book is true “armchair travel literature” as the genre was born by writers describing their experiences on interesting journeys in faraway lands. Downie’s approach is classic in its presentation of historical fact and narrative about the city, but made modern by inclusion of Downie’s personal thoughts, opinions, and questions as he absorbs and integrates his Paris experiences and observations.

Who is David Downie?

Author David Downie

David Downie is the author of a dozen non-fiction titles primarily on the topics of travel, food, and wine, but also the author of a couple of fictional thrillers as well (see link above). He is the European correspondent for Gadling.com and has authored articles for newpapers and magazines across the globe. He moved to Paris on April 5, 1986, a time when the French Franc was still the monetary unit, when the Internet was something only used by the military and eggheads at MIT, and where places in Paris, such as the Marais where he still resides, had not yet seen a renewal of gentrified affluence as exists there 25 years later. It is his intense observation over time that, in part, gives Downie great credibility in his writing about Paris.

His website can be found at DavidDDownie.com.

Downie is also the co-owner of Paris, Paris Tours with his photographer wife, Alison Harris, whose photos are featured in the book (and here in this post!).

© Alison Harris - All Rights Reserved

In the chapter entitled, “Why the Marais Changed Its Spots,” Downie writes, “Besotted by my adopted home, for years I pored over every book I could find about its history. I interviewed local experts and longtime residents not just to write articles. Mainly I was trying to come to grips with what was happening, a fascinating, in some ways horrifying, process” (p. 259).

I really liked those sentences because they mirror a lot of my own process of coming to terms with the city of Paris. But they also indicate the volume of information that Downie has taken in, distilled within, and then processed back out into an elixir of quality writing about the city. Clearly this is a writer who is not simply here to show readers the current, most popular things to do and to see in an around Paris, but rather one who wants to give readers an educated, long-term view into the multiple factors that make this city so interesting, and one which has captivated tourists and expatriates alike for generations.

What’s in the book?

Thirty-one essays are divided near-equally amongst three sections of the book: Paris Places, Paris People, and Paris Phenomena. The chapters cover such subjects as the Seine, Île de Saint Louis, the Place des Vosges, Coco Chanel, Vincent van Gogh, and Vie de Chien, a dog’s life in Paris. Besides these topics, which might be found in other books on Paris as well, are the more unique chapters such as “Going Underground” in which Downie describes the Paris underneath Paris (all of the tunnels, nooks, crannies, and catacombs which punctuate the earth beneath the city proper), “The Boat People of the Seine,” where the life of those who make their home and livelihoods on the péniches (cargo-cum-houseboats) of Paris’s waterways is described in detail, and “Night Walking” in which Paris life is viewed voyeuristically through illuminated windows and by the light of street lamps and neon signs. It was this balance of “typical Paris” and “atypical Paris” which I really enjoyed. Not to say that the “typical Paris” chapters were in any way dull or re-hashed: in fact, I learned something (really, several somethings) new in every chapter that I read. Even with the topics regarding “typical Paris,” Downie’s keen observatory powers, distinct perspective, and ability to write well made each chapter very interesting.

© Alison Harris -- All Rights Reserved

Photographs by Alison Harris provide visual anchoring for each chapter. What I loved about the black and white photos in the text are that few of them were “stereotypical” — meaning that each photo, while representing something quintessentially Parisian, was unique in perspective. For example, one of my favorite photos for the chapter about the Luxembourg Gardens is of the shadows of the park chairs. So Parisian, and yet such an atypical and interesting viewpoint! Her work from the book is shown in this post and can be found at her website: alisonharris.com

Who will enjoy this book?

It’s a given that anyone who is a die-hard Francophile, Paris-lover will want to get his or her hands on this book. It really is one of the best I have read in the “Paris Armchair Travel/Memoir” genre in terms of the content and writing.

I think anyone who enjoys a well-written travel book or is a history-buff about European cities will like this book as well.

Those who are interested in art, art history, architecture and/or city planning would do well with the book: there are several chapters that address artists who have resided in Paris (Modigliani and Van Gogh are two) and the construction and re-design of Paris through the centuries factors in the essays quite prominently.

© Alison Harris -- All Rights Reserved

This is an intellectual book — but not a high-brow book, not a snobby book. Downie is witty, and he is a self-described “benign curmudgeon.” His style is down-to-earth. This book is not written with the intent of describing flash-in-the-pan, trendy, up-to-the-minute, what-to-do-in-Paris fare in slang-y sorts of cutesy ways. It is a thoughtful, intelligent, and well-developed book. It’s accessible, but it is also smart, and is meant for smart readership. Downie is well-read himself (based on his book list of favorite books on his website), and his writing is reflective of being so.

If you want solid information about some of the “usual suspects” in the Parisian landscape and scope, plus particular personal insights about some of the lesser-known things about the city from an insider-yet-also-expatriate point-of-view, you will enjoy this book.

So this is a revised version of a 2005 edition, right?
Why should I purchase this book if I have the former one?

I addressed this question with both the representative from Broadway Books and also David himself. Here are some good reasons to get this version:

The first edition of PARIS, Paris: Journey Into the City of Light was practically a self-published title. Because Mr. Downie had generated new material, and Paris, while remaining essentially the same in some regards, has indeed changed quite a lot in the past several years, it was felt by the author and Crown Publishing Group/Broadway Books that the book had (as the representative stated), “potential to reach and resonate with a much larger audience.”

This new version of the book has been described as “updated, expanded, and redesigned.” I asked what that meant, specifically, and here are the answers, first from the publisher’s rep:

“The book has been revised to include a number of small edits [the author] David has made to the existing material (updated), a bunch of new writing that he has generated in the time since the first edition (expanded), and includes a number of new photographs and a brand new jacket design (redesigned). David had been revising the book for quite a while – the revisions were not made toward any specific goal other than to include David’s new findings and discoveries and thoughts about Paris that have occurred in the years since the first edition.”

I also asked Mr. Downie to speak to the changes, and he added the following:

“The three new chapters are “Hit the Road Jacques,” “Of Cobbles, Bikes, and Bobos,” and “Grave Situations.”

Also, I pretty much rewrote the chapter on Les Halles, “Belly Ache,” because so much has changed there… and continues to evolve.”

The cover is beautiful, and the trade paperback size manageable. I note that the golden hues in the cover echo my earlier comparison to a fine whisky. I’ve already mentioned Alison Harris’s fine photographic work.

© Alison Harris -- All Rights Reserved

Bonus Section

Mr. Downie** was kind enough to take the time to answer a couple of questions for me about his book, or, rather, about thoughts and questions I had while reading the book. Here are the questions and answers.

**An aside: I know I have persisted in using the author’s name formally in this review. I don’t know if it is because Mr. Downie does indeed give off a “benign curmudgeon-ly” vibe or because the eye-patch he sports in his photographs in and around the Interwebz gives him a rakish, “don’t mess with me” look. Perhaps. I think mostly it is that I deeply respect the work that has gone into this book. Being a writer wannabe myself, and knowing how much time and effort it takes to do the Work, and practice the Craft, I want to call him “Mister” because I esteem his accomplishment.

But maybe it really is the eye-patch. 😉

Karin (an alien parisienne): Your first visit to Paris was in 1976.  Ten years later, you found yourself living in the City of Light. Why Paris? How was it that you found yourself back in this city of all places in the world to live? What was it about the city that brought you back on a more permanent basis?

Mr. Downie: Karin, this would take me a day to answer… The thing is, I’m an accidental Parisian. I’d come many times in the 1970s and ‘80s, but my real love was Italy — Rome. My mother is Roman and I lived there when young. Paris drew me in because it was a challenge, a real big city: the city of literature, history, the beginning of modern times. Also, I found that when I visited in the early 1980s, I lived more intensely here than anywhere else. I wanted to make Paris mine. That’s a crazy notion, but true. San Francisco, New York, Rome, Milan — all places I’d lived and enjoyed — seemed easy compared to Paris.

Karin (an alien parisienne): To explain why I’m asking this question: One of the things I read in the chapter “Why the Marais Changed Its Spots” which really “grabbed” me was the following: “Besotted by my adoptive home, for years I pored over every book I could find about its history. I interviewed local experts and longtime residents not just to write articles. Mainly I was trying to come to grips with what was happening, a fascinating, in some ways horrifying, process” (p. 259).

I love the part about “trying to come to grips with what was happening” and how that is a fascinating and horrifying process. I often feel the same. But what I’d like to know is how was it that you became “besotted” in the first place? Do you have another article or reference which expresses a little more of this story? What is it that got you in such a “besotted” state with Paris?

Mr. Downie: It was probably the intoxication of being young, healthy, unattached, and full of energy in a fabulous place — meaning, a place seemingly lifted from a fable. Everything worked: public transportation, parks, health care. People were proud and had a civic sense. Everything that seemed impossible to achieve in the U.S. of Ronald Reagan seemed not only possible, but already existing here. My main undergraduate degree was in Political Science, at UC Berkeley. I was highly politicized. I loved the fact that the French were passionate about politics, and many of them believed in social democracy, real freedom, true equality, and meaningful fraternity. Those were the early days of Mitterand. The atmosphere was very different. So full of hope. So unafraid. Now everything is about fear, security, immigration, free trade, free enterprise, privatization, downsizing… I would certainly think twice about moving here now, though I still believe life is better here than in just about any other big western city.

© Alison Harris -- All Rights Reserved

Karin (an alien parisienne): Just to confirm what I read on the back of the book — photographer Alison Harris is also your wife, Alison, whom you mention frequently in the essays, right? As an aside (and something I hope to include in the review), if she is game to answer, I am curious about what her favorite chapter is in the book & why she likes it.

Mr. Downie: Alison’s my wife. We’ve been together for 24 years. She’s very shy. I hesitate to ask her which chapter she prefers, but she’s said in the past that it’s the chapter about the year 1900 and why Paris is the Janus City.

Shy in interactions, perhaps, but not so in her photographic talent. I love Ms. Harris’s unique view as represented in the photographs in the book — as I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of “atypical” views of “typical” places, and I really liked this part of the book and her contribution to it. I also happen to agree that the chapter entitled “The Janus City, or, Why the Year 1900 Lives On” is one of the best in the book. I think it shows how in Paris, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (“the more things change, the more they stay the same,” attributed to Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr) or, as Downie quotes from Marguerite Yourcenar at the opening of the chapter: “If you love life you also love the past, because it is the present as it has survived in memory” (p. 283).

So there you go. My review of PARIS, Paris: Journey into the City of Light.

Questions? Comments? You know what to do. And if you have any interest in Paris whatsoever, you’ll do yourself the favor of getting this book.

Over and out.
Paris Karin

(an alien parisienne)

P.S. An Important UPDATE

I completely forgot that I meant to link in the wonderful interview of David Downie over on Sion’s blog, Paris (Im)perfect.  Sion kindly reminded me of this fact in comments below.

What’s more is that you can win a FREE COPY of the book if you go over to her site and comment on the post! You have until Saturday, April 16, 2011 to do so. Please read her excellent interview of the author. I enjoyed reading it a lot!

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43 thoughts on “Special Report — PARIS, Paris: Journey into the City of Light

  1. Dear Karin;

    What a wonderful and insightful review of this book. I can’t wait to put my hands on it.

    Well done!

    • Hello, Jan! I am so glad that you enjoyed the review! It really is a great read on Paris, so if I managed to communicate that, I am glad! 🙂

  2. Soooooo good! I so want to buy this book for myself and based on your review for all my friends/family back in the US so they can “experience” the city I live in. I love your follow up questions and his responses, especially re the changing vibe of the Marais. Interesting to hear his perspective on things. So happy to have a book that’s not about the trendy places to go, what to do, blah, blah, blah – basically ditto everything you said! Just happy to have a book that tells the tale of this beautiful story and doesn’t commercialize it by telling tourists where they MUST eat or MUST do if they want to be in the (I think I’m) “too cool” set. Well done and thanks for sharing!

    • opps tells the tale of this beautiful CITY

    • Hullo there Amy! You said it right here: “Just happy to have a book that tells the tale of this beautiful city and doesn’t commercialize it by telling tourists where they MUST eat or MUST do if they want to be in the (I think I’m) “too cool” set.”

      It really is a very thoughtful book. I think that family and friends who want to know more about where there loved ones live is definitely another good category of People Who Should Read the Book!

      David Downie mentioned in a Facebook post that the book is available locally here at The Red Wheelbarrow, a favorite book shop of mine, and also at the Village Voice, a spot I have read about several times and not yet been to. Yanno, if you want to make a journey there to get the book, let me know! I’d be game to go with!

      Thank you, Amy! 🙂

  3. Dianne

    Karin..Lovely comments and discussion of the book about a city that is forever fascinating..now my sister has the bug after only a few days there last Fall..we both must return. We are both recovering from serious illnesses..I am sending her forwards of Paris blogs and pictures of Spring flowers there so we are hopeful. Thank you for your writing and I would certainly purchase a copy of this book. Dianne

    • Thank you, Diane! Oh my, I do wish you both speedy recoveries. I am so happy if I have been of assistance in that process. By all means, get the book. I think anyone who really wants to feel some of the things that make the city of Paris tick will appreciate it mucho. 🙂

      Here’s to your happy and healthy return to see Paris again!

  4. Karin –

    This is such a well-written review! I know the focus is supposed to be on Downie’s book, but I just wanted to point out that I think this review really displays your writing at its best.

    But onto the book, thanks for digging deeper. If any of your readers want a chance to win a *free* copy of the book, they can head over to my blog and enter a giveaway (and learn more about Downie, too!)

    If they don’t win, you’ve definitely made the case that they should buy it. So many people will enjoy the book.

    Bravo, lady!


    • CRAP!! That’s right! I was going to link into your post! Oh chica — I’m sorry I forgot that. I’m going to amend it right now!!

      • No worries, lady! I really just wanted to come here and comment about how well you wrote this review! But yes, people like free books, too, so thanks for linking! 🙂

      • LOL. I totally forgot to say, “Thank you” in my flurry to link in your post. I meant with all seriousness to make sure to do it, though, because I thought your interview would compliment what I was writing so well! I had about 2/3 to 3/4 written when you posted your interview, and I really did think that the two of them go together well once I read what you had posted, too. I’m so glad that it worked out that way!

        I really especially appreciate the props on the writing because I know you know what you are talking (writing) about. It’s high praise from someone whose opinion on writing I respect a lot. Thanks.

        And all y’all better go sign up for a chance at winning the free book!

  5. ken

    It is unsellting to have someone of Roman decent to call Paris ” the city of literature, history, the beginning of modern times”, but maybe Rome was the seat of the “old world” and not dicounting its contibutions to civilisation, the movement that is known as “modern” seems to have , while not borne in Paris, certainly solidified into something recognisable there.

    “Mainly I was trying to come to grips with what was happening, a fascinating, in some ways horrifying, process” This is something I’ve been somewhat obsessed with where I live and I’ve blogged about from time to time, so I can sooo understand. You fall in love with someone and, yes, they are not perfect, but even their faults seem somehow charming. Somewhere they get it into their head that they need to “improve” themselves and at first, yeah, this is healthy, this is good. After a bit we start to miss the little things that charmed us, but we say that its all for the greater good. Suddenly you look accross the breakfast table at a stranger who, you realise, you don’t even like. Where is that person you fell in love with? Are they REALLY a better person? If so, why are we not attracted to them?

    ” Now everything is about fear, security, immigration, free trade, free enterprise, privatization, downsizing… I would certainly think twice about moving here now, though I still believe life is better here than in just about any other big western city.”
    Was this what events did to the whole world? War and tension combined with world-wide economic stress (that is alway blamed on foreign elements within a society that would otherwise be concidered to make it rich) or do you think it was US interventions in all of those things, impressing our values and solutions on the rest of the world to the point that they cannot see any other way? It might just be arrogance to believe that it is all our fault, but what if it is?

    I would love to read this book to learn more about Paris, but also to see the mirrors of things locally. Change, progress and nostalgia, looking to understand and balance these things.

    • Hi Ken! Thank you for the comment!

      One thing I have been learning about is that, in fact, Paris is almost as Roman as Rome is, you know? LOL! The more I investigate, the more I understand just how ancient this city is, and how much it adapted to the Roman way of life that spread so far all those centuries ago.

      But maaaaan, talk about comprehensive book topics! Here we are some 3,000+ years later (or thereabouts, not gonna fact check right this second) and still writing/talking about the Roman Empire. Whole ‘nother ball of wax that one is, huh.

      I like how you connect the love of a city to the love of a person. It’s a metaphor I keep coming back to as well.

      This, my brother, is a really good question, isn’t it: “It might just be arrogance to believe that it is all our fault, but what if it is?”

      I would love to read this book to learn more about Paris, but also to see the mirrors of things locally.

      Excellent point! I think reading about the city of Paris in these essays would provide fantastic comparative literature with another city, too.

      Go sign up for the free book, mister! Seriously! Head over to Sion’s blog as I linked it in the Update up there & take your chance at one of three books!

  6. Kate Boyington

    Can one find a copy in America? In English sil vous plait?

    • Absolutely, dear Kate! The links in the post to the book title are set to go to Amazon.com in the U.S. It should be on your local, independent bookseller’s shelves as well (which I recommend supporting, if you can. 🙂 )

      Go sign up on Sion’s blog to try to receive the free one, too! Really! You’re eligible!

  7. You’re no wannabe. You’re a writer. I want to read the book. But, then again, it might make me sad since Paris, for me is yet an undiscovered mystery. I will never get over the fantasy of actually living there, if only temporarily, one day. Not this time around. I responded to your last comment on my blog, not sure if you saw it. It was to say, I have entertained the same fantasy of meeting you as well, so much so that each time I went to Paris, I half expected to “run into ” you. My time is running out. If I make it back again before we leave France, it will be completely spontaneous and rebellious. The train goes through our sleepy village each morning at 7:30….

    • Oh hey there, Betsy! I was just going to go check back in with you to see what has been up re: the whole moving thing. 🙂 I’m glad you came here, too. Thank you.

      And, well, yeah, thank you on the I’m not a wannabe part, too. Yeah, part of it is claiming it, eh? I have enough criteria to make me understand that when one processes much of his or her world via the written word, and then actually writes words, one is a writer. I was just talking with another blogger today, though, about how much self-discipline is required to really be a WRITER, though. I really have to work on that part, and finish one whole complete draft of *something* (NF or fiction, at this point, I don’t know if I care which) to really feel like I can totally claim it.

      As I was saying up there, I was going to check back on your blog today for responses and more posts, so I will head there as soon as I finish typing this. See you there in a moment… 🙂

      And seriously. If you decide impulsively and rebelliously to take that 7:30 am train, I need to message you with a phone number that you can call. I would certainly be up for playing around Paris if you want a buddy with you, to go and do whatever YOU want, since your time is running out! I’m great at rebellion and spontaneity, both! 😀

  8. Carole

    Dammit, Karin! My bookshelves are overflowing as it is and now I am coveting another book and about Paris no less! Quelle surprise!

    Sounds (reads) like you truly enjoyed this book. Or are craving whiskey! 😉 This is some fine writing. It’s official: you are a writer!

    • “Sounds (reads) like you truly enjoyed this book. Or are craving whiskey!”

      LOL! I think it is a bit of both! Thank you for the props on the writing. And I hate to tell you, but you’re just going to have to get this book. I know you and your Non-Fiction, historical leanings, so yes, you need this one. I know you will like it!

  9. Sounds like a great book!!

  10. Brilliant review, Karin — not because you happened to like the book (that is a bonus!) but just overall — your writing, organisation, answering the reader’s questions before we have to ask them (eg who is the author?) etc. I loved the whiskey (TULSA!?) references, and how the golden cover of the book goes perfectly with your thoughts about David Downie distilling his experience. But my most favourite element of the review was the bonus question when you probed as to what caused the original ‘besottedness’ with Paris. What a GREAT question, and one I’ve been thinking of relative to my own experience and love of Paris. It was fantastic you got the reply you did from ‘Mr. Downie’ (yes, definitely something about that eye patch, I think) and his initial youth, excitement, etc.

    Bravo, author and reviewer. I’m getting this book ASAP!

    Cheers from Oz.

    • Carolyn, you are too, too kind. Your comment made me beam. I am so glad that you really enjoyed the writing, the thoughts, and yes! Wasn’t it so nice that Mr Downie answered that question? I was so glad to receive a response, because yeah — I think that is a question all of us who have a connection with Paris want to understand: what is it about this place that makes people fall for it so hard? Even when they try to resist (“Resistance is futile” lol).

      I know you will love the book. 🙂

      Thank you for stopping by! I hope you and Clive will be in Paris again soon! I would love to be able to see you both again. I hope things are going well for you guys!

    • Oh and yeah — Tulsa. Long story, lol. I’m still trying to figure that experience out!

  11. Wow! I must say, what a stellar review! Me? I’m particularly drawn to the photography and I absolutely LOVE that the Downies are a husband and wife team. I don’t have the first edition, so the changes have no bearing with me, but I’ll make sure to check the new version out.

    • Hi Samantha! Thank you for the comment! Thanks for the compliments on the review. I was so glad to highlight the photography in this book — I almost wish it were a coffee table-style book with color photos. It’s easier to read with the trade paperback, no doubt, but it would make a beautiful book with more photos, too, I think.

      It’s great that they are collaborators, no?

      Anyone who appreciates Paris will certainly like it, so I hope you can get your hands on a copy!

      Take care!

  12. Hi Karin,

    So so sooooo nice to hear from you! It has been a long time, hasn’t it? We should meet up for coffee in May. What if we rerun our coffee and chat on the Museum of Modern Art’s terrace on one of the weekends? I konw I’d love that!

  13. I enjoyed reading your review very much. I am pleased you like the book because, as a coincidence, my husband bought it for me last week and I started to read it last night. I am at the introduction only. I like to read books on Paris (and France) because I miss it. I have some very old books on Paris but still like to read news ones to see how the perspective has changed. It pained me to read that Paris has changed like so many other cities – “Now everything is about fear, security, immigration, free trade, free enterprise, privatization, downsizing…” I thought this only happened here in the States. I felt the same exuberance when I left Paris to move to San Francisco in the 1960s – so much was happening in SF then and I thought Paris was too antiquated – now I wish I had never left my flat in Paris – times change. So I’ll try to finish the book this week before my flight to Paris the next – I am sure there will be places that Mr. Downie mentions that I do not know and now will be on my list to visit.

    • Hi Vagabonde! Thank you so much for coming by! I’m sorry it took me a couple of days to come back here and acknowledge your comment.

      What a cool coincidence that you got the book from your husband last week! I think you are really going to enjoy it — I know the posts you write and the level of historical detail you appreciate about places and people, and so I think you will enjoy it a lot. You will have to let me know what you think, as a native Parisienne and if there are details about which you did not know of the city.

      OMG — I am so envious about you getting to know SF in the 60s. Paul and I just watched the “Woodstock Movie” — the one that Martin Scorcese helped edit and which won some Academy Awards (this one here), and both of us felt so touched by that time and the music and beliefs. Anyway, yeah, I think that in many ways Paris has changed, but one point that the book makes that even in and through these changes, a lot remains the same, and sometimes in some good ways, too.

      When are you coming to Paris? I wonder if there is any chance that we could connect when you do. I would so enjoy that. Let me know if that is possible, Vagabonde!

      I hope you are enjoying some lovely Spring weather in your part of the world.
      Take care!

  14. As usual, this is a complete as one could possibly make it. I guess that the book is really interesting, but what I already know is that the photos are really different and impress me a lot!

    • Hello Peter! Thank you so much for stopping by to read and comment. And I am glad you are impressed with the photos! They really are unique, aren’t they? I think Mr Downie is lucky to have such a talented spouse, too, eh? 😉

      Be well, Peter! I hope you are enjoying Paris’s lovely weather right now.

  15. My French book list keeps getting bigger 😉

    • Hi frenchstage! I enjoyed your blog today! Notably the previews for Midnight in Paris. Oh that looks like it is going to be good! I remember when there were reports of filming here last year… It’s crazy how one’s book collection can grow and grow, no? Thanks for stopping by and reading!

  16. I was looking for a decent review for this book, and finally I found one on your blog 🙂

    • Well, Olga, I am so glad to have obliged! It is all 100% how I truly and authentically feel about the book. So glad that you appreciated the review (and I am sure Mr Downie is, too, lol 🙂 ).

  17. Sigh….your well-written, evocative review has sold me on this book! I’ll put it on my Mother’s Day wish list for Ed. Thank you!

  18. Love the review, Karin!

    And really enjoyed meeting you and Sion and David and Allison last night! Looking forward to more meet ups, both chance and planned.

    And looking forward to sinking into David’s book!


    • Hi Sarah! It was awesome to talk with you last night! I really enjoyed it. So glad you came to the event! I think you will really like David’s book. I re-read a couple of chapters on the Métro ride home last night and was reminded of how much I learned and how much I enjoyed the writing.

      Yes, definitely more meet ups, planned and by chance are in order. I’m hoping to post a small post about last night on Tumblr, and I’ll include your links in it. I’ll let you know when it is up and posted!
      Take care & hope to see you again soon!

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