Paris Letters

February 4, 2014 Memoir, non-fiction 22

17586508Title: Paris Letters
Author: Janice Macleod
Source: from publisher for review
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Summary: Although this story was lighter and more happily-ever-after than I expected a memoir to be, I ended up enjoying it for what it is – the non-fiction version of chick-lit.

Janice Macleod is tired of her life. Although she has achieved success at her dream job as an advertising executive, she feels personally and professionally unfulfilled. A chance conversation leads her to the realization that simply saving $100/day could buy her a year of freedom in Europe. After saving and selling to make her dream come true, she finally moves to France where she begins to piece together the life she didn’t know she was looking for.

As I mentioned in review earlier this week, I don’t especially like dark, gritty books. However, when I pick up a memoir, I do typically like to read about someone overcoming challenges. Think MWF Seeking BFF 
(trying to make friends), Some Nerve (overcoming your fears), The Happiness Project (trying to make yourself happier on a daily basis), or The Saturday Night Widows (moving on after grieving). Now, I wouldn’t say that Janice faces no challenges. Having the self-discipline to save money, the courage to quit her job, and the self-awareness to realize that her life in Paris is what she wants is no small accomplishment. However, in the book, she portrays it that way. She talks very little about the tough times or the decision making process. It comes across as though everything just falls into place.

At first, the portrayal of everything as easy bothered me. It made the book less inspiring and impressive than other memoirs. However, once I realized that this was basically non-fiction chick-lit, I started to warm up to it. Janice’s writing is beautiful, as are the painted letters she sold on Etsy and includes in her book. Her story was happy and heartwarming. Plus, like all great narrative non-fiction, it was just as riveting as the fiction version and had the added awesomeness of being a true story. All in all, I’m glad non-fiction has its sappy, fun, light, heartwarming romances too. As long as you go into this with the right expectations, I think it’s a great book.

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22 Responses to “Paris Letters”

  1. Jillian @Addled by Books

    My review of this is coming tomorrow…I really liked it, but I definitely agree that the work that she put in to get to Paris was glossed over. I guess I was able to overlook it because too much detail about her saving/sacrificing would have made it veer a little more toward self-help and out of memoir. I think the details of how she was able to quit was secondary to the fact that she decided to make a change and acted on that decision. The details of that will look different to everyone.
    Jillian @Addled by Books recently posted…Top Ten Books That Will Make You CryMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      You make a good point! The nitty-gritty details about how she saved and so on would probably have been too much. I do wish she’d shared a few more difficult emotions though, from the struggle of saving to deciding whether or not to go back to France. As is, I felt like everything just magically fell into place for her. It made it seem more like a fairy tale then a memoir to me.

  2. Cayce

    THAT COVER!! *grabby hands* Hm. So it’s a memoir… It’s been quite a while since I’ve read one, but the concept of a “non-fiction version of chick-lit” inrigues me. And I’m curious about those “painted letters” you mentioned. And PARIS!! So yeah, I might check this one out 🙂 Great review!
    Cayce recently posted…What Makes A Villain – ViciousMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Oh, you should! I’ve loved books about Paris and while this was a bit more fairy-tale than I expected, it’s certainly fun to vicariously experience the author’s perfect Paris romance. I think the cover is probably one of the author’s paintings and the letters inside are equally beautiful.

    • DoingDewey

      It was a really fun genre bender! I love discovering nonfiction that I think would make a good introduction for someone who typically reads a particular fiction genre 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      I was shocked how much like chick lit it felt! It was maybe a bit more serious than some chick lit, because the author wasn’t the sort of heroine who makes funny comments about everything, but the themes it dealt with were very similar – lots of romance 🙂
      DoingDewey recently posted…Non-Fiction FridayMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      I’m so glad to hear that! I know a lot of people who read blogs are book bloggers, so I wonder if my reviews are helpful to authors or to people who read but don’t blog about it. It’s nice to know they can be helpful 🙂 Obviously, it’s not necessary that you conform to people’s expectations of a genre. I ended up liking this book a lot despite the differences from what I expected. I do think it had a little more of an uphill battle getting my to like it though because I first had to accept that this wasn’t quite the sort of book I was expecting.

    • DoingDewey

      It definitely surprised me! While the book wasn’t what I expected, I suspect it was intentionally written in a light hearted way. It was really beautiful little book 🙂
      DoingDewey recently posted…Non-Fiction FridayMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks for visiting and for mentioning how you got here! You’ve reminded me that I also want to visit some of the reviews people have linked up for the challenge 🙂

      For me, having the right expectations can make a big difference to how I feel about a book. If I’m surprised, it’s a lot harder for a book to win me over.

  3. Vicki Lesage

    Added it to my growing list on Goodreads! Her book sounds similar to mine, except I don’t gloss over much in my story! It will be interesting to read her perspective and compare it to my own experiences. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Erin @ Quixotic Magpie

    I love a good memoir! This one sounds like it would be perfect for a day you want an easy, light read. And you can’t get much better than a Paris setting!

    I popped over from the Nonfiction Reading Challenge. 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      So true! I’ve been enjoying both memoirs and Paris a lot lately, so I couldn’t resist picking this one up.

  5. Shelleyrae

    I only just finished this book , like you I was a bit disappointed about how easy she made it all sound, and a bit jealous- she managed to save more in a year than my husband earns to support 6 of us. I won’t be going to Paris any time soon.
    Thanks for sharing your Eclectic Reader Challenge review

    Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

    • DoingDewey

      Haha, yeah, I don’t think I’ll be going to Paris anytime soon either, much less quitting my job to move there where I’ll easily discover a great guy and a dream job. Although this was a great wish-fulfillment, chick-lit kind of book, it definitely disappointed my expectations of a memoir.

    • Vicki Lesage

      Ha, well, that’s part of why I recommended my book on this thread – I definitely don’t make it sound any easier than it is! Heck, on my first day I couldn’t even figure out how to get into my apartment. I’ve had numerous frustrations with bureaucracy and French people over the years. And while my husband is great (I do mention SOME of the good stuff!) I had to endure years of crappy guys to get there. Sometimes you just want a fun story, sometimes you want to know how things really are!
      Vicki Lesage recently posted…Two Americans in Paris: Writing about the Good LifeMy Profile

  1. Literary Love 2014 - Love In France | Doing Dewey

    […] Chick Lit/Memoir – Paris Letters Although technically non-fiction, this sweet little confection of a book reads just like a light and fluffy romance. Nothing too serious here plus lots of beautiful paintings by the author (like the cover) are included! Full review here. […]