Paris, My Sweet: A Year In The City Of Light (And Dark Chocolate) – Amy Thomas
Amy Thomas, lover of all things sweet, is leading her regular life as a blogger and newspaper columnist in New York, when she is offered a highly prestigious job in the city of her dreams, Paris. After a lot of deliberation, she takes up the job and moves to Paris, having a gala time exploring the many cafes and chocolateries in the city. Paris, My Sweet: A Year In The City Of Light (And Dark Chocolate) is Amy’s memoir about the one year she spent in Paris, as a part of her job. Sounds wonderful, right? Sadly, the book disappointed greatly.
The author seems to have turned the book into a personal diary, which is fine, but all she has done is crib! When she is in New York, she misses Paris, and when she is in Paris, she misses New York. Yes, the author has written about the ‘sweet spots’ that both Paris and New York have to offer, but the book reads more like a full-blown rant about her life – her work, her lack of boyfriends, her not being able to speak good French, her missing her friends from back home. The book does poorly, both as a travelogue and a personal memoir.
The author also seems to be obsessed with sweets, and all the sugar in the book began to put me off after a while. But then, I do understand that is what the book is all about.
I’m sorry to say I wouldn’t recommend this book.
Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart In An American Kitchen – Donia Bijan
Donia Bijan was leading a happy life with her parents in Iran, her father a highly respected doctor and her mother a qualified nurse. When the Islamic revolution threatened them in the 1970s, Donia and her family had no choice but to move to America. They do accept America as their home, slowly and gradually, but a part of the family’s heart is always in Iran or Persia. In Maman’s Homesick Pie, Donia recounts the major events of her life, with the backdrop of the Persian food that she has learnt to cook from her mother. The memoir is interspersed with some of Donia’s favourite recipes from the family’s Persian kitchen.
The memoir has been beautifully written, and it is touching to read about the difficult times in her life, such as her disagreements with her father or her family having to live in exile. It gave me a lot of new insights – into a country different from my own, a time very different from my own, and the grief of an exiled family. The memoir also gave me an insight into the world of a restaurant kitchen – the hustle and bustle that must inevitably be a part of one, the hierarchies, the slogging and the myriad other difficulties that a person who wants to make it big in the food world must face. Let’s say, I now have a new respect for such people, and for the number of people on the line in a restaurant kitchen.
Donia’s mother sounds like a wonderful woman, beautifully balancing her career and life dreams with a healthy relationship with her children. The author’s love and respect for her mother clearly comes through in the memoir.
That said, I somehow didn’t feel a connect with the people in the memoir, as I have in other books. Something was missing, something I couldn’t put my finger on. Or maybe that was just me. The descriptions of the food are droolworthy, though.
I would say I liked this book and enjoyed reading it, but didn’t grow to love it. I would encourage you to give it a try, though, for sure.
Have you read either of these books? What were your thoughts about it/them?
What are you reading at the moment?