In celebration of new memoir ‘We’ll Always Have Paris’ by Emma Beddington (which looks très bon by the way), I’m giving you my picks of novels and books about one of my favourite cities in the world. Like thousands of other women, I’ve always had a secret desire.. well basically to be bit French, cool like Lou Doillon, chic like Paradis, quirky like Tatou. But I’ve cut my losses and soak up these books and Marion Cotilard movies instead. C’est la vie.
Must-have book for all Parisian wannabees. These ladies talk us through what it really is to be a woman in Paris, they tell us about make up, share recipes, first date tips, style advice, even how to tackle a hangover Paris style. The ladies also share a handy A-Z of their secret places in the city, where to eat, where to buy the best vintage wear and everything you need basically if you’re popping over.
I cannot tell you how much I loved this novel. It’s an imagined fictionalised account of Hemingway’s first wife Hadley Richardson, set in boho 1920s Paris. It captures the Jazz Age, literary Paris when it was taken over by the likes of Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein. The pages are filled with descriptions of the little back street cafes, the fashion, the parties and you get a glimpse of Hemingway in his early years, the infidelity, the poverty of a struggling writer, the highs and lows of the marriage. If you loved ‘Midnight in Paris’, you should check this book out immediately.
Of course if you want more and you want the real deal, read Hemingway’s version of events, published posthumously in the 1960s. A neat little book at 144 pages long and one of Hemingway’s most beloved works.
This book is a stone cold classic and if you don’t know anything about the protagonist, I’m certainly not giving anything away. Just that he is born gifted with a fantastic skill. It’s a clever and unique story, tales of murder, eroticism, there is style and of course scent. (The book was made into a film some years ago with the excellent Ben Whishaw in the leading role, but as most often the case, the book wins).
No list of Parisian themed books would be complete without Anais. I read this book in my late teens blushing all the way. A collection of 15 short stories, pretty darn steamy in places, but beautifully written at the same time. I also adore ‘Henry and June’ by Nin.
From the high brow to what I would describe as French chick lit (though this one is actually written by the marvelous and very British male Dan Rhodes under a pseudonym). I wanted to include this in the list as its just a fun feel-good romp through Paris, a bit silly at times and more than a little quirky, who wouldn’t love that?
So check out We’ll Always Have Paris, I will be curling up with it soon (in my fave Breton obvs). Would love to hear what you think of it. Au revoir! Lx
Birkin, our very own Brit turned Parisian heroine ♥