Journalist Gershman packs her bags and heads for France, chasing a dream as she runs at an angle.
Lung cancer was the precipitating event, stealing the author’s husband from her and prompting her to move to France. Gershman had long planned to retire there, having been to the country numerous times as an author of Frommer’s Born to Shop guides; here, in a hard-won if expectant and humorous voice, she relates exactly how she went about making the shift. Those tempted to turn up their noses at the suggestions of someone who writes “born to shop” books should hold their sniffs: as much as anything, this is a tactical guidebook for laying siege to Paris, full of good advice on how to set up a new life there, at least in the material sense. (Which is no small potatoes.) Gershman has only a small bankroll, so she is attuned to making the money stretch. “Okay, okay,” she writes. “So I paid for the funeral with a credit card, it’s true. I wanted the miles. I was moving to France.” Take her dark humor for what it is, a parry against the pain as the author details her search for an apartment, triangulating its location with the pleasure principle. (“It was so hot that I was forced to retreat to my favorite shoe discounter [Moda, 79 rue des Victories].”) When the time was properly ripe, Gershman made herself available. “Dating sucks,” she discovered, yet if she “wanted a reason to shave my legs again,” Paris was a city in which a middle-aged woman could feel very much alive. The hours with “the Count” blew upon enjoyable embers, but didn’t eclipse her foursquare search for a home she could call her own.
Only a churl wouldn’t cheer the author’s final happiness; she paid up front for it, and she wants to be your Virgil to attaining the same, should Paris await you.