Monday, August 31, 2009

Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Girl Detective

When I was asked if I'd be interested in being interviewed by Voice of America (VOA) for a story on the Nancy Drew Mystery series, I immediately remembered reading it as a girl, sprawled across my bedroom floor. My mother was concerned that I was reading too much, and not getting out to play with friends. Now that memory is part of an overview of the books, and what they have meant to girls since they were first published in 1930. You can read the transcript and listen to the audio stream from the Voice of America website at My thanks to reporter Nancy Thompson for her excellent overview. Since the story is a feature on VOA's Special English site, the pace is slower for those who are learning English. It is interesting to read the comments posted after the transcript from people all over the world.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Almost French

There are some books you read that touch your life for years to come. One of those for me is Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull. Sarah was an Australian journalist who moved to Paris to marry her love, Fred. Although a gregarious person who had traveled, Sarah discovered that France is unique. In an interview with "Paris Through Expatriate Eyes," Sarah says, "I think a lot of foreigners come to France, knowing they're coming to a foreign country and naively don't expect it to be that different." For Sarah, it seems the biggest challenge relates to being a foreigner married to French person. She is not French, but because she is married to a French man, she is not a member of the expatriate community. She explains that, "I had Fred and being with a French person, sharing your life, you are thrown into the whole French culture. You can't avoid it. You're not really in an expat world. I think some foreigners would like to be more integrated but find it quite difficult. Although as you have suggested it's often easy to have pleasant, engaging spontaneous conversations with your neighbor at a café, forming friendships takes a lot of time." After many years, Sarah begins to feel Almost French. For me, Turnbull's book is an engaging and honest memoir of taking risks and living life as an adventure. My memory of it was a motivating factor in deciding that I could take myself to Paris. If Sarah Turnbull and Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and Frances Mayes (Under the Tuscan Sun) can travel alone, then so can I.

While writing this post I discovered some interesting web sites which I link to above and highlight here.
Paris Through Expatriate Eyes
The Official Web Site of Elizabeth Gilbert
The Official Web Site of Frances Mayes

Friday, August 28, 2009

Paris: City of Lights

The DVD Paris: City of Lights, produced in 1995 by View Video, is not well shot or written, but even that could not quell my growing excitement about visiting Paris. In one hour of viewing I was reminded of Paris' history, and the great men and women whose lives have contributed to her fame. I thought of beginning a list of those who have contributed to Paris' fame, or those French names that have become recognized world-wide, but I soon realized how huge it would be. I think of Berlioz, Debussy, Delacroix, Voltaire, Hugo, Braille, Nadar, Manet, Monet, Matisse, Degas, Pissarro, Renoir, Seurat, Valadon, Marie Curie, and on. When you think of French people of note, whom do you think of and why?

By the way, I discovered a "List of French People," organized alphabetically by profession, on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Sweeet Life in Paris

On the white board outside my office, I am counting down the days to Paris. As of today, the number is 17. What's fun are the comments I receive and conversations I get into when people walk by and notice. One woman stopped to reminisce about her trip to Paris. Later she e-mailed to say, "There aren't many things I know about Paris but this fellow is going to 'set you right' about Paris. I only wish I had learned about his website before we went to Paris." Fortunately for me, I'm viewing the site before I go!

My new friend suggests David's book, too.
The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bonjour Hello Kitty!

I like Hello Kitty. Recently one daughter said that women my age should not own anything Hello Kitty. I did own a cell phone case with this sweet character. But I lost it. Or maybe someone lost it for me? Then there appeared these Hello Kitty items with a French theme. Each time I visited a certain store, I'd browse the towels, shower curtain, trash can, bath matt, etc., featuring Mademoissele Hello Kitty and her chien. But I resisted purchasing, telling myself my money will be better spent in Paris. However, I have been telling everyone about this latest Hello Kitty find, and with the great friends that I have, I should have guessed that someone would buy me a gift. I now am the smiling owner of a Bonjour Hello Kitty bath towel. Tres bien!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Finding a Place to Stay

I don't remember who first recommended Karen Brown's books to me, but I know that when I used them to find places to stay in England and Spain, I was pleased with the results. My local library had two of Karen Brown's books for France: Karen Brown's France Hotels and Karen Brown's France B&B. Her books became my guide for finding a place to stay in Paris.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Keeping a Personal Promise

"My dream is to visit Paris -- especially the Tour Eiffel (1,056 feet high) and the Louvre. (Remember to make dinner reservations at Tour Eiffel well in advance!)"

My journal entry has been fulfilled. I have dinner reservations at the Julves Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower for September 14.

But why is the restaurant called The Jules Verne? Without even expecting to, I've made a Lit Linx! The restaurant is named for French author Julves Verne (1828 - 1905), known as one of the "Fathers of Science Fiction," along with author H. G. Wells. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Verne is the second most translated author in history, behind Agatha Christie

Verne is best known for his novels A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), From the Earth to the Moon (1865), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869–1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). He wrote about air, space and under water travel before they were possible.

Le Julves Verne was remodeled when world renowned chef Alain Ducasse took over in 2007. The restaurant is on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. However, the second floor is 410 feet up, providing diners with what many call "an unparalleled view of the grandeur that is Paris." This is where I will celebrate my birthday.

Alain Ducasse opens his Eiffel Tower Restaurant (YouTube :52)
Le nouveau Jules Verne (YouTube 3:10)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mysteries in Paris

Author Cara Black has set each of her mystery novels in one of the 20 neighborhoods or municipal districts, called arrondissements, of Paris. Her latest, released this summer, is entitled Murder in the Latin Quarter. I find it interesting that when I'm focused on something, there suddenly seem to be reminders of that something all around. For example, I'd just confirmed hotel reservations in the the Latin Quarter for my September visit to Paris. Then listening to NPR's Morning Edition, I hear Ms. Black's story (In Paris, A Mystery Writer Whose Name is Noir).

Paris' 20 arrondissements are arranged in a clockwise spiral, beginning in the middle of the city on the Right Bank (north side) of the river Seine. Black has written ten books thus far:

Murder in the Marais
Murder in Belleville
Murder in the Sentier
Murder in the Bastille
Murder in Clichy
Murder in Montmartre
Murder on the Ile Saint-Louis
Murder in the Rue de Paradis
Murder in the Palais Royal
Murder in the Latin Quarter

She has ten more arrondissements to go!

Have you read any of Black's books? Do you have a favorite Paris arrondissement?

Monday, August 10, 2009

LitLinx to Paris: Join Me!

Visiting Paris has been a dream and a goal since I cannot even remember when. So when the approach of a big birthday began to trouble me, I decided it would be healthy to distract myself from the shock of it by spending the day doing something special. I decided this was the time for Paris.

Why Paris? For me it is the city with so many links to my favorite literature and art. Within the next few weeks I'll explore those links here with you, as I prepare for, travel to, and spend my week in Paris. I hope you will join me.

Above: My journal with an entry from almost a decade ago. It reads, "My dream is to visit Paris -- especially the Tour Eiffel (1,056 feet high) and the Louvre. (Remember to make dinner reservations at Tour Eiffel well in advance!)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Julie & Julia: Lives to Books to Movie

Last night I saw the movie Julie & Julia. Meryl Streep should win an academy award for her portrayal of Julia Child. The movie is based on two real life stories told in two books: My Life in France by Julia Child, and Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell. In 2002 Powell, a Julia Child devote, set out to cook all 524 recipes in Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and blog (The Julie/Julia Project) about the experience. The blog became a book, the book a movie. Seeing the movie has inspired me to read the books. (However, it has not changed my personal mantra that the best thing to make is a reservation!)

Meryl Streep was a guest on The Daily Show on August 6, reviewing her role as Julia Child. It is a must see!

Seeing the movie and reading the books compliment my own adventure, to be recorded in this blog. I will have My Week in Paris, September 11 - 17, and I'll tell my story here, beginning today. I hope you will join me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Library NewsBytes

I've taken a hiatis from LitLinx the past two months while transitioning into a new full-time position, which includes writing for the Fairfax County Public Library blog Library NewsBytes. I'm in the process of devising a logo for the site. Any ideas? Let me know in the comment section here at LitLinx, or at Library NewsBytes. Thanks! And welcome back.