An Interview with Eloisa James: Paris in Love

Aug 23, 2012 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Eloisa, you have just written a most enchanting book about a year in Paris, France. How did the book come about?

When my husband and I decided to move to Paris for a year, I was quite sure of one thing: I wanted to remember the year. My son Luca was already fifteen, and I had the chilling fear that once he grew up I would forget all those funny teenage moments, the way I had forgotten most of the adorable things he did as a baby. So, I started keeping a brief journal, of sorts, on my Facebook page. It started out quite simply, but I found that I truly enjoyed the challenge of catching an evocative moment in a brief burst of prose. I posted once or twice a day. The book proceeded quite naturally from those updates, although Paris in Love includes longer essays and many details that were not put onto Facebook. The book turned into a quite funny look at our year: life in Paris with Anna, Luca, my husband, my mother-in-law’s plump dog… and all those Parisians.

2) I love Paris, not only in the springtime, but also in the summer, winter and Fall. What is it about Paris that is so eminently attractive to people?

It’s beautiful, romantic, and full of history.  And perhaps more importantly, Parisians savor their days rather than dashing through them.  It’s a lesson I learn over and over, every time I visit.

3) Your two children went with you to Paris- what were the obvious challenges?

Children are far more resilient than people think; when their family travels, they learn that the world is a wide and wonderful place. My children certainly faced challenges at school (they went to an Italian school in Paris) and on the playground, so to speak.  But I think they would both agree now that the year was splendid.

4) And your husband, an academic also, how did he spend his free time in the City of Lights?

He wrote an academic book about an Italian author.  And practiced his French with some Parisians he met, both of whom appear in Paris in Love.

5) Now, what adventures did you encounter and what did you learn about life?

Well, I put all my adventures in the book.  My hope is that the book will inspire more people to snatch up a dream and just do it—trust that it’s OK to sell the house, move into an apartment you find on the internet, live in a foreign country without speaking the language (because I don’t!).

6) I believe it was Hemingway who said that Paris was a “moveable feast”. If that is so, your book has provided a smorgasbord of delights. Tell us about a few of them- si vous plais–!

The chocolate and the light… Paris is a feast for the senses.

8) Your most exasperating thing that occurred in Paris?

I did have a very bad day—and my whole family experienced it with me. It was my son’s 16th birthday, a day that included our only encounter with that famous movie staple, the “Rude French Waiter.” It was hilariously awful, and I wrote an essay describing the day for Paris in Love. It was serialized in Good Housekeeping, so I certainly got my revenge!

9) I have spent a certain amount of time in the Louvre- but what other spectacular museums and art shops did you encounter?

I included a little guide in the back of Paris in Love to the museums that I particularly enjoyed.  I’m not a huge fan of the Louvre—I find it too big.  So I ventured into small museums in out-of-the-way places.

10) What has Shakespeare said about the city of Paris? If anything? And have you returned to teaching about the Bard or have you switched to Dumas and/or Moliere?

Well, nothing comes to mind.  I am indeed teaching Shakespeare in the fall.  No French lit—I’m afraid a year living in France is not adequate preparation!

11) I understand that you actually have a Paris in Love web site- tell us about it–where is it located and what would one find?  There are photos of my family, and excerpts from the book, as well as some fun pieces that I wrote for various websites.

12) Now, I think Paris in Love is a wonderful alternative to just about any book out there right now- where can our readers get a copy and escape to their favorite arrondisement?

That is a lovely thing to say!  The Paris in Love website links to many options, from Amazon to Barnes & Noble, to independents.  You can get a signed copy from WORD bookstore in Brooklyn (there’s a link).  And of course it’s available from as well: I read the whole book aloud for the CD.

13) What have I neglected to ask?

Nothing I can think of!  Great questions, thank you.

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