The relentlessly egoistical account of an American expat’s attempts at solo child-rearing in Paris.
Fashion designer Lobe (Paris Hangover, 2006) was 39 and living footloose in the “staggeringly magical” City of Lights when she suddenly became pregnant by a British divorcé. In pretentious, French-laced prose that irritates more than it charms, the author chronicles the changes she experienced, both inside and out, as she made her way into unexpected single motherhood. Her whirlwind relationship with “Mister Brit-o-Honey” ended after she announced her intent to keep their child. But her joy at finally being able to end the battle “to keep reed thin under the pressure of the discerning-to-the-point-of-ruthless mass of Parisians” knew no bounds. Yet the city of her dreams proved to be more hostile to her efforts to create a single-parent family than she ever expected. As splendid as Paris was, it also proved a horrifically expensive place to maintain the large, child-friendly home she envisioned for herself and her son. And no matter where she turned, it seemed as though everyone, from her pediatrician to the clerks at the stylish baby boutique she frequented, scornfully looked down upon her for daring to be a mother on her own. Most brutal of all were the judgments that people—including close friends—made regarding her choice to sleep with and breast-feed her infant. Eventually, Lobe decided to return to her hometown in Wisconsin to raise the son that had become the center of an increasingly myopic world. After eight years of living in France, she had become too Europeanized to reintegrate into Midwestern culture and too American to cope with French concepts of family. Most of Lobe’s Parisian adventures end midway in the book. From that point on, the narrative loses cohesion and becomes a never-ending series of lists that cover such topics as “new mom issues” and the pros and cons of staying stateside or going back to France. Relationships with the family she so effusively celebrates in the final pages become obscured into irrelevance.
Self-indulgent and frankly de trop.