by Joyce Lamb)
Michelle Gable, debut author of A Paris Apartment, shares some suggestions for Paris-based love stories.
Michelle: Late in 2010, my agent told me about the discovery of an abandoned Parisian apartment. The former resident locked the treasured-stocked flat in 1940 and fled to the south of France. She passed away 70 years later, never once returning to her home.
"There is something awesome and haunting about this story," my agent wrote. I agreed and immediately started researching what would become my debut novel, A Paris Apartment.
While working on the novel's plot, I also began plotting for "A Paris Apartment" of my own. Sadly, the various interested parties in my life (husband, kids, boss, cat) were quite disinterested in my vision of an extended French holiday. So what's a girl to do? Travel to Paris through literature, bien sûr!
Below are some of the best places to find love, enchantment, and inspiration in the City of Lights, all without the unnecessary expense or disapproval from family.
Every story needs a hook and if you give me Hemingway, a jet-set lifestyle, and Paris, I'm sold. A standout in the "famous guy's wife" genre, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain has the Hemingway and the Paris, but is also well-written and heartfelt. The man's charm and allure are strongly felt as is the desperation of the couple's young, insecure love. Though he left Hadley and then plowed through a number of other women, Hem loved his first wife to the bitter end. In Hemingway's own words: "I wish I had died before I ever loved anyone but her."
Most teen girls would find the phrase "boarding school" somewhat threatening, but not if the school is in Paris and adorable boys are on the syllabus. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is set in a Parisian boarding school and features a film-obsessed girl and her friendship-turned-romance with the delectable Étienne St. Clair. A believable, absorbing young adult romance.
Let's be serious. If you really want to commit to the Parisian lifestyle, it's probably best to find a handsome Frenchman to marry. That's exactly what Elizabeth Bard does in her charming foodie memoir Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes. You'll gobble this up in a single sitting, even if, like me, your own love story would be less "with recipes" and more "with takeout."
The Chocolate Thief happens to be what my daughters call me, but it's also a delicious read by Laura Florand. Cade Corey is a chocolate heiress — some girls have all the luck — who flies to Paris in attempts to collaborate with a famous chocolatier. Renowned artisan Sylvan Marquis is surly but also extremely hot. It helps that his deep knowledge of chocolate translates well to the understanding of women. Hilarious and sexy, this novel is an utterly fun (and sensual) romp through the city.
And what would a list of Paris-based novels be without the latest entry in the category? Take a Sotheby's furniture expert, an abandoned ninth arrondissement apartment, the diaries of a courtesan, and a French attorney named Luc, and you have … this sounds familiar … A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable. Full disclosure: That's me. It'd make a perfect summer read if you're dreaming of Paris but can't quite make it there.
Whether you want to visit now or in 1890, dépêchez-vous! There's no time to waste. As every poet, painter, and furniture assessor knows, the best place for Happy Ever After is in Paris.
Find out more about Michelle at michellegable.com.