A true and tragic fact, I've never been to Paris. However, I love to travel through books and when I saw Kate Betts' memoir, My Paris Dream on NetGalley, it looked like the perfect read for armchair traveling. Thank you to Random House Publishing Group for gifting me with an advanced copy of Betts' memoir in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT- Set in the mid-80's, My Paris Dream, follows American Kate Betts as she moves to Paris after finishing her undergraduate degree at Princeton. Betts fell in love with Paris during a high school trip and she felt a pull to spend more time in the city, a pull greater than could be satisfied during a vacation. Telling her family and boyfriend that she plans to be in Paris for just a year, she moves to France with an arrangement to rent a room in the home of a French family and she is armed with a few loose contacts for potential jobs.
As time passes, Betts becomes more entrenched in her French life. She has a strong circle of supportive friends and on the encouragement of her landlords, she moves into her own apartment. Her initial year in Paris, is turning into years. Soon, she finds herself with a French boyfriend and a job as a fashion journalist. As a fashion journalist, Betts is exposed to a glamorous world and she meets many icons in the industry, including, Christian Louboutin, Helmut Lang, Yves Saint Laurent and Anna Wintour.
LIKE - My Paris Dream is absolutely beautifully written. It's downright dreamy with Betts lush descriptions of her life in Paris and the fashion industry. The clothes, the food, the city streets...it's simply gorgeous.
What I found most appealing is the theme of following your dreams and your heart. This is a wonderful memoir for anyone, but I think that it would have an extra appeal for college age women. At thirty-seven years old, I read this story in a wistful mood, but if I had been younger, I think this memoir would have been inspirational. This isn't to say that I didn't find Betts story inspiring, but as I'm older, it made me feel more nostalgic for when I was in my twenties. There is an innocence and bravado about that age that Betts captures perfectly.
I found the tidbits regarding the fashion industry and journalism to be fascinating. I also enjoyed learning about France and its culture. Betts truly attempted to blend-in with the locals and I think this attitude allowed her to develop close friendships that gave her a real idea of French culture and everyday life. Betts is less of a "fish-out-of-water" than I anticipated. The French don't let her forget that she is American, but they definitely accept her as a friend and adopt her into their lives.
DISLIKE - Nothing. I absolutely loved this memoir. I finished the book wanting more.
RECOMMEND - Yes, I've already recommended My Paris Dream to several friends. Betts memoir is a must for those who love travel writing, French culture or fashion.