Phillips (Sustainable Luxe, 2013, etc.) offers a guide to France with heavy doses of history, fashion, food, and popular culture.
The author fell in love with France on her first trip to Nice as a young girl, finding it refreshing, sexy, and so very old compared with her native California. After many more visits and a brief residency, she still loves the country just as much, but with a more jaded attitude. Paris may not be for everyone, she says, and she lodges complaints about its gray weather, inefficiency, inherent pessimism and unfriendliness, and French women, who she says “can be total bitches.” But just as she notes what she sees as France’s flaws, she also lays out her opinions on the shortcomings of her native United States. She finally realized that one can incorporate the best of the Parisian lifestyle into one’s existence anywhere; a relocation or even a visit to Paris, she says, is completely optional. To that end, she created this guide with an aim toward helping readers enrich their lives with Parisian influences. Through 18 chapters, she highlights the very best of the City of Lights—including its food, wine, fashion, film, books, architecture, and furniture—while providing recipes, tutorials, summaries, and anecdotes. At the same time, she draws attention to aspects of the American lifestyle that strongly contrast with French ways—particularly its conspicuous consumerism and “more is more” attitude. Phillips’ breezy writing style is fun to read—amusing and sometimes slightly caustic—and her rapier wit creates frequent laugh-out-loud moments. Her extensive bibliography and appendices are testaments to her exhaustive research. The book also serves well as a reference work, with an index to facilitate finding topics of greatest interest. It shows that one can always have Paris—unless one chooses not to.
A manual that’s as balanced as the lifestyle it proposes.