Book Review: How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are
Title: How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits
Author(s): Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret, Sophie Mas
Publisher: Ebury Press (2014)
This book is the bible of every wannabe-Parisienne. Four best friends and life-long inhabitants of the City of Light indulge supposedly satirical yet strangely convincing aphorisms, faux pas, colloquialisms, tips on etiquette, style, sex, home décor, recipes and how to spend idyllic days among the boulevards of the Île-de-France.
Teeming with sometimes amusingly useless advice (“Always hire the less attractive babysitter”, “Randomly exclaim, ‘This is the most wonderful day of my life!’”), you often find yourself mentally taking note of the odd nugget of uniquely Parisienne wisdom: “Never wear your glasses, especially if you’re nearsighted. That way, you won’t have to acknowledge people you know. You’ll have that aloof look…”. It is claimed that Parisians often enjoy being paradoxical characters, walking contradictions and talking in circles and
How to Be Parisian … really plays on that, meshing sex and politics and making over-dinner conversations sound like something out of an Oscar Wilde drama.
Often witty, sprinkled with interesting info and gorgeous photos of the city,
How to Be Parisian… would make a perfect gift for a Francophile girlfriend. It concentrates on that Parisienne philosophy that is as outspoken and psychotic as it is bohemian, romantic, charming and ultimately centred around the all important joie de vivre. Whilst it is perhaps more aesthetically pleasing than content-focused, it features colour swatches of the seasons and a minimalist layout, as well as some lovely Tumblr-esque short stories like ‘1:00pm First Date at the Café de Flore’. The book resounds with the au naturel French attitude towards beauty and skincare: work with what Mother Nature gave you because plastic surgery is not an option. The Parisienne is not in search of eternal youth or agelessness, but rather takes a very Coco Chanel approach in believing that a woman has the face she deserves.
How to Be Parisian… for what it is: unashamedly pretentious and snobby, a mode to tap into your inner cool. It is a fairly quick read, and the ideal coffee table book that you can turn to in times of need of inspiration or laughter. Take some vaguely ironic life advice from four ladies with seemingly effortless Parisian chic in their blood: “Go to the theatre, to museums, and concerts as often as possible. Culture is like eating fruit and vegetables: it gives you a healthy glow.” Now crack open the vin rouge.
Originally published at http://kristensinclair.blogspot.com on January 2, 2015.