Non-fiction book for Feb 2019 My Book Box.
If anyone writes more beautifully about Paris than John Baxter, I’ve yet to read them.
This book is supposedly about Paris throughout the year. It loosely follows this (there are some jumps in season, time, and place) as well as a brief history of the Revolution’s desire to change the calenderer.
It is best to think of this book as part memoir of seasons of his life in Paris, as well as seasons of Paris. Each chapter is like a meditation.
There are interesting little factoids that pop up. Like France’s obsession with sanitation. Or how names use to be chosen for French children. There is a wonderful bit about April, Paris, and music. There are observations like, “More so in France than anywhere else in the world, political survival turns on a gesture” (207).
There are parts of the book that are somewhat, well strange. It’s not the comparison between Baxter’s Australia or California. Those parts are interesting. It’s just sometimes, it almost feels like he is oversharing. There is a bit too much about his sexual relationships. Don’t get me wrong, the details aren’t overly graphic, and the first relationship is actually beautifully described. However, he does seem to think of Paris, in part, as terms of women he has relationships with. (Most importantly, it should be fairly noted, his wife and daughter. He dedicates the book to both, and they do seem to be the loves of his life. The two non-marriage relationships occur prior to the marriage). So, we also get details about his relationship with a German woman. There also is a weird bit about an Aussie’s man’s junk. Which comes out of left field. I’m not really sure why that was there.
Still, it is a beautiful book about Paris. You should read it.