From the book
THE EIFFEL TOWER
One October day we picked up Anna and her new friend Erica after school and walked to the Eiffel Tower. The girls ran ahead, zooming here and there like drunk fighter pilots showing off. Alessandro and I tried to imagine why the French ever planned to demolish the tower after the 1889 World Fair. It's such a beautiful, sturdy accomplishment; destroying it would be like painting over the Mona Lisa because of her long nose. Smallish bateaux mouches, or tourist boats, moor in the Seine near the foot of the tower, or so my guidebook said. We wandered beneath the lacework iron, the girls skittering and shrieking like seagulls. Down by the water we paid for the cheaper tickets, the kind that come without crepes and champagne. With twenty minutes to wait, we retreated to an ancient carousel next to the river. A plumpy woman sat huddled in her little ticket box, shielded from tourists and the rain, although as yet neither had appeared.
Anna and Erica clambered aboard, but still the operator waited, apparently hoping that two children astride would somehow attract more. The girls sat tensely on their garish horses, their skinny legs a little too long. At ten years old, they'll soon find themselves too dignified for such childish amusements. But not yet.
Finally the music started and the horses jerked forward. A crowded merry-go-round on a sunny day is a blur of children's grins and bouncing bottoms. But as the girls disappeared from view, leaving us to watch riderless horses jolt up and down, I realized that an empty merry-go-round on a cloudy day loses that frantic gaiety, the sense that the horses dash toward some joyful finish line.
These horses could have been objets trouvés, discovered on a dustheap and pressed into service. The steed behind Anna's was missing the lower half of his front leg.
They arched their necks like chargers crossing the Alps on some military crusade, battle-scarred and mournful. Every chip of gold paint dented by a child's heels stood out, stark and clear. With nowhere to go, and nothing better to do, the operator let the girls go around and around. Finally, though, the music slowed, the last few notes falling disjointedly into the air. I decided there is nothing more melancholy than a French carousel on a rainy day, and wished we had paid for champagne and crepes.
On the Métro heading to school, Anna launched into a wicked impersonation of her enraged English teacher stamping her foot: "Shut zee mouths! Zit down! Little cretins!" The entire subway car was laughing, though Anna remained totally unaware of her captive and captivated audience.
Alessandro brought home a very successful makeup present after the non-flowers: a heart-shaped cheese, sort of a Camembert/Brie, as creamy as butter and twice as delicious. We ate it on crusty bread, with a simple salad of orange peppers, and kiwis for dessert.
I just came across a list Luca created on a scrap of paper. At the top of the sheet he wrote (in cursive) "The End."
The list is entitled "Several Problems":
--Can't write in cursive script
--Can't write in Italian
--Don't think I copied the math homework down correctly
--Screwed up on the Italian writing evaluation
--Have French essay for Monday
--Need my books by tomorrow
I feel terrible. What...
Author: Eloisa James
Eloisa James (aka Mary Bly) is a Shakespeare professor at Fordham University in New York City and a New York Times bestselling author of historical romance novels.
"While the children struggled then triumphed in school and with new friends, the dog grew fatter, and Alessandro advised his French conversation partner in affairs of the heart, James discovered a 'materialist's playground' in Paris, finding just that precious objet or museum or nibble, and relaying in her sensible, reflective prose the lessons to take home and dream over. . . . [An] effervescent diary." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"What a beautiful and delightful tasting menu of a book: the kids, the plump little dog, the Italian husband. Reading this memoir was like wandering through a Parisian patisserie in a dream. I absolutely loved it." - Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
"Paris In Love is a witty and delicious memoir, as irresistibly charming as Paris itself. As Eloisa James describes her family's year-long adventure abroad, her prose shines with her usual romantic flair. But there is also tenderness, and wonder, and the generously imparted wisdom of a woman who takes nothing for granted. When you read this endearing treasure trove of bons mots, it's almost as good as being there yourself." - Lisa Kleypas, author of Rainshadow Road
"Mais, Oui! I'm a sucker for travel narratives--I've lost count of how many I've devoured over the years--Paris In Love is the best I've read since Under the Tuscan Sun. James's gift for language and narrative lets us see what she sees, taste what she tastes (but without the weight gain), and share her funny, touching, always entertaining experiences as she and her family adjust to living in the City of Light. This is a book to be savored, right along with a tart au citron and a glass of pink champagne. Just pretend your favorite reading chair is at a café table along the rue de Rivoli and enjoy. Marveilleux!" - Susan Elizabeth Phillips, author of Call Me Irresistible
"Eloisa James has written a true romance! By moving to Paris with her cool husband and their two unruly kids for a year, she made her fantasies real--and she's written a book that reads like a dream come true." - Christina Dodd, author of Revenge at Bella Terra