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!