Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My review of PARIS, paris: Journey into the City of Light

“David Downie’s prose illuminates Paris with an unequaled poignancy and passion. He understands and evokes the soul and the substance of the city with a critic’s intelligence and a lover’s heart. He makes me want to live in Paris again.”—Don George, Contributing Editor, National Geographic Traveler

It's funny, I've been fascinated with Paris all my life, although I've never been there, and although my impressions of it are limited to a myriad of photographs and images from movies and books.

It's as if Paris was a celebrity that I've admired from afar and always wanted to meet. Well, through this book--PARIS, paris: Journey into the City of Light, by David Downie, I feel I've done just that.

A long time resident of the city, Downie truly takes us on a journey--introducing us to fascinating neighborhoods, plazas, cathedrals, museums, even cemeteries--as well as the gritty underbelly that is the underground catacombs.

An avid walker, Downie has physically sauntered down every Paris street or tree-filled plaza of which he writes, and it shows. I had to remark to myself that although I've lived in my city for 32 years, I would never be able to write about it with the first-hand knowledge and intimacy with which Downie writes about Paris.

With the loving but realistic perspective of a Parisien, Downie shows us the city, warts and all. And not just the city, but some of the more famous and/or fascinating people of the city--like Coco Chanel, Modigliani, Beaumarchais, Paris artisans,even the subculture of boat people who ply the waters of the Seine in small boats.

Downie's wealth of knowledge about his subject, both historical and trivial, enhances every page of this little book. With his lovely, evocative prose, it reads more like literature than a travel book. The reader has to pay close attention to catch every fascinating nugget of information, and it's well worth it.

Anyone who is a lover of history or who has ever dreamed of visiting Paris must read this book. You will come away, as I did, having a much richer acquaintance with the City of Light than ever before...and an even greater desire to go there.

I won this book through a blog give-away from the lovely Camille of The Wildfleur (formerly Paris in Pink). Merci beaucoup, Camille--it's a treasure!


Jenn said...

I love your review! I myself have been soooo in love with Paris since I was 10 years old, and have never been... Your statement, "It's as if Paris was a celebrity that I've admired from afar and always wanted to meet", is exactly how I feel. I've been planning on going to Paris before I turn 30 (which is next May), so I'm praying that happens! I definitely want to pick up this book now!

Cindy Swanson said...

Do it! Go there while you're young and free :) I still hope to make it there someday! You'll enjoy the book.

the Ink Slinger said...

Good review, Cindy!

Paris has never been of particular interest to me, but I still might pick up this book, if only to enjoy Downie's writing. I like prose that "illuminates" with "poigancy and passion". :D

Yvette said...

I will DEFINITELY be reading this, Cindy. Thanks for a great review. I too am a lover of the city of Paris, though I've never been there either. Years ago, while visiting Great Britain we were all set to cross the Channel and visit Paris when something came up and we cancelled. To this day I am still kicking myself!!


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