In this memoir of losing a beloved spouse, the longtime editor of Texas Monthly, newly widowed, returns alone to a city whose enchantment he's only ever shared with his wife, in search of solace, memories, and the courage to find a way forward.
This Paris is inevitably touristy and familiar, but Curtis’s descriptions are informative and closely observed, with cascades of precise detail ... It’s also an exclusively white Paris. Curtis describes the banlieues, where many immigrants live north of Paris, as 'wretched,' and it’s left at that. I found it at times off-putting to be reading a book that portrays contemporary Paris, so dynamically and complexly multiracial and multiethnic, in that whitewashed way ... He has a doomed love affair with a middle-aged Parisian art teacher, vividly evoked in passion and spite, that at least allows him a sense of possibility. And he does discover and collect his own out-of-the-way marvels and curiosities, described in entrancing prose for readers who by then may be cheering on this lonesome, wounded, somewhat awkward knight of love and grief.
Written with sometimes spontaneous prose as memories resurface from time to time, as well as with clear-eyed recollections, this captivating book will delight readers by sweeping them from locale to locale within the City of Light. Curtis’s personal anecdotes and historic tidbits are written with a genuine tenderness and journalistic eye throughout ... Although slated as a memoir, this touching work is just as much a love story and travel diary. It processes the pain of loss through the lens of beautiful scenery and will appeal to many readers, but especially fellow Francophiles eager to follow the road less traveled.
His genially learned evocations of Paris are somewhat more lightly worn than those of Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon, but they’re just as informative. Though readers will feel Curtis’ pain, they will also share his joy—and perhaps relief—at being in a place both beautiful and anonymous ... For those suffering from bereavement, a candid, moving book of commiseration and encouragement.