Books / Books in Culture / Memoir

Commuting to “Paris in Love”

I discovered the joys of audiobooks at one of my first jobs, where I worked inputting names and numbers into a database. While this was an unusually profitable position for a high schooler, the routine became mind numbing after I mastered the basic processes. Sensing my restlessness, my boss recommended that I bring in some music. It was then that I thought to listen to audiobooks instead. In the two summers I worked full-time as a data entry specialist, I listened to hundreds of books. With the average book on tape lasting about eight or nine hours, I was able to listen to about a book a day. I worked my way through the countless literary classics–Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Bleak House, The Old Curiosity Shop, Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe, Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, all of Jane Austen’s novels, Little Women, Lolita, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings books, The Hobbit, Crime and Punishment, Middlemarch, A Doll’s House, War and Peace, and Anna Karenina, among others. After exhausting the classics, I thought I would try something a bit more lighthearted and started listening to David Sedaris. A few days of ill-timed fits of laughter, however, scratched funny books from the equation. I opted instead for grave, dramatic books, like Lisa See’s depressing, but moving novel Snowflower and the Secret Fan.

After my two summers as a prodigious data entry specialist I stopped listening to audiobooks altogether–until just recently. Over the years, I have had little occasion to drive and have mainly commuted by train and bus. A change of circumstances, however, meant I suddenly needed to commute by car. Each morning and evening, I faced my journey with trepidation–white knuckled, on-edge, and generally horrified by the chaotic ballet of distracted drivers around me–calmed only by the drone of the news radio. Then by chance I ordered Paris in Love from the library, only to find that I had requested the audiobook accidentally. It was then that I started commuting to audiobooks.

Paris in Love memoirI quickly found it hard to be bothered by poor weather, bad drivers, and horrific traffic while I was listening to Eloisa James read about her memorable time spent in Paris. Hurrying suddenly seemed immaterial, and my commute soon became one of the bright spots of my day. Paris in Love works wonderfully as an audiobook. It’s the type of book that begs to be read aloud. It could be that James’s sense of humor translates particularly well to oral storytelling or it could be that memoirs in and of themselves simply make for good audiobooks.

Eloisa James is a Shakespeare professor, a bestselling author of romance novels, and a mother of two with an Italian husband. Paris in Love recounts the ups and downs of the year James and her family spent in Paris. Built from James’s Facebook jottings and Twitter posts, Paris in Love listens like an interconnected chain of short stories and poems, which James delivers with the unmistakable dramatic flare one would expect from a Shakespeare professor. Well-chosen words and keen observations bring Paris’s color to life. Having lived in Paris during the same window as James, it was interesting to hear her describe things that I remembered passing and places that I haunted during my stay. I wonder if we ever crossed paths?! James’s writing is a bouquet for the senses, with descriptions of sights, sounds, and tastes that fired up my nostalgia and made me hanker for chocolate on more than one occasion.

Outside of its unusual format, authentic descriptions, and sterling prose, Paris in Love stands out from the crowd because of its depictions of family life in Paris. More often than not, “pack-up-and-move-to-Paris” memoirs treat the adventures of single women. It’s refreshing to hear about the antics of James’s two children, an eleven-year-old girl and a fifteen-year-old boy. Throw in an obese chihuahua, a cancer scare, and Italian in-laws and its nearly impossible not to fall in love with Paris in Love. 


~ Michelle


Interested in checking out one of Eloisa James’ romance novels? The next book in her Happily Ever Afters series comes out on May 28th, 2013–Once Upon a Tower. I’m excited!


2 thoughts on “Commuting to “Paris in Love”

  1. I enjoy listening to audiobooks in the car as well. Oddly, I listen to different genres than I read. I rarely read thrillers but love listening to a good spy story. YA fantasy is especially well suited to long car trips. In the days before DVD players in cars, I could pop an audiobook in and entertain my girls on the 14 hour drive to grandma’s house.
    I will look for Paris In Love. It sounds great.

  2. Hmm, I haven’t tried a spy audiobook in ages. I think my last listens were likely the Steve Berry books! YA fantasy all the way. We definitely listened to the Tamora Pierce books in the car, only we took turns reading them aloud! Hope you enjoy PARIS IN LOVE.

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