American journalist Bard traces her relationship with her French husband from the first lunch date to the present, framing the narrative around mouthwatering menus.
The book starts out vanilla, but the author’s charming narrative and penetrating insights quickly add a subtle complexity that will captivate readers. Having met her future husband Gwendal at an academic conference in London, Bard soon invented an excuse to visit Paris. Eventually she moved in to Gwendal’s tiny apartment and began her initiation into Parisian life. She pleasantly details her joys and obstacles, including her difficulties with grumpy fishmongers and complicated meat-market lines, and she provides poignant revelations about cultural differences that are alternately easy to overcome and seemingly insurmountable. The idea of love conquering all is certainly a cliché, but the author’s unique voice prevents her story from becoming stale. One of the most enlightening aspects of French culture that Bard reveals is the fact that in Paris, the customer is not always right. Whether it’s the chef for the wedding hors d’oeuvres or the doctor treating her father-in-law’s colon cancer, the author learned that one must bow to the opinion of the professional. Ultimately, Paris had much to offer Bard, including lessons in how to cook delectable meals with whatever is at hand, or the simplicity of sitting in a café and relaxing with a coffee and croissant. Despite the many delicious recipes, the motif of food only provides a loose framework for the book, leaving the narrative somewhat disjointed in places. This does not, however, diminish Bard’s entertaining voice.
A cozy, touching story.