Paris is “the world capital of memory and desire,” concludes one of the writers in this intimate and insightful collection of memoirs of the city. Living in Paris changed these writers forever. In thirty-two personal essays—more than half of which are here published for the first time—the writers describe how they were seduced by Paris and then began to see things differently. They came to write, to cook, to find love, to study, to raise children, to escape, or to live the way it’s done in French movies; they came from the United States, Canada, and England; from Iran, Iraq, and Cuba; and—a few—from other parts of France. And they stayed, not as tourists, but for a long time; some are still living there. They were outsiders who became insiders, who here share their observations and revelations. Some are well-known writers: Diane Johnson, David Sedaris, Judith Thurman, Joe Queenan, and Edmund White. Others may be lesser known but are no less passionate on the subject. Together, their reflections add up to an unusually perceptive and multifaceted portrait of a city that is entrancing, at times exasperating, but always fascinating. They remind us that Paris belongs to everyone it has touched, and to each in a different way.
"...Paris doesn't merely put visitors in the mood; the city itself is the object of mad crushes. This diverse collection of reflections is a testament to that passion...."-- The New York Times
"... it's fascinating when 32 writers asked to note their impressions of the French capital react in uncanny harmony. In Paris Was Ours the authors describe their attraction to the mystical, mercurial city as the always dazzling yet also dizzying experience of being drawn, moth-like, to a flame..." --The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
."..Penelope Rowlands culls 32 essays, stories and poems, some original, some previously published, from writers who include professors, single mothers, gay men, a homeless woman, a wealthy Iranian and a poor young Cuban. The collection takes some of the shine off Paris but not the allure..." --Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"In vivid, varied, demitasse-length essays, students, mothers, journalists, chefs, and designers (from America and Great Britain, but also Iran, Iraq, and Cuba) attempt to decipher their Parisian counterparts. ... The authors' often hard-won insights and admiration provide a welcome key to the heart of this iconic city." --Virtuoso Travel
"I'm also reading Paris Was Ours ... It's the exact escape I need during this snow mania, and it includes pieces by David Sedaris, Diane Johnson, Marcelle Clements and others." --USA Today's Pop Candy blog
"A lively show-and-tell about the city's legendary Latin lovers, celebrated cuisine, fashion worship, and its rarely heard from (or about) homeless citizens." --Elle
"Whether you have lived in Paris or not, this captivating collection will transport you there." --National Geographic Traveler
"The essays capture the mood of the city in all of its dark and light shades, evoking the spirit of Eugene Atget and Marcel Proust. "Paris Was Ours" is a sparkling collection as well as a nice literary complement that fans of the Woody Allen movie "Midnight in Paris" would especially enjoy." --The Chicago Tribune
Meet the Author
Penelope Rowlands is a journalist and critic. Her books include the anthology Paris Was Ours and A Dash of Daring: Carmel Snow and Her Life in Fashion, Art, and Letters, a biography of the legendary editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar.