Book Review: Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, With Recipes by Elizabeth Bard
Elizabeth has always been drawn to museums and the Old World, so when she’s doing her graduate work in London and meets Gwendal, a Frenchman, she jumps right into dating him. Gradually she falls for not just Gwendal, but Paris in general, especially the food. This memoir tells about her falling in love and the process of becoming an expat in France through the lens of food.
This memoir starts out strong. Who doesn’t enjoy a good real life love story? Paris sounds incredibly romantic and appealing to anyone who enjoys open food markets, museums, and the big city charm of small spaces. Two things held me back from really enjoying the book though.
First, as a vegetarian, I really didn’t appreciate the incredibly long and frequent sections describing eating meat, cooking meat, how awesome meat is, etc… Where Elizabeth describes her future husband, Gwendal, telling her “I love you” for the first time over a piece of bloody meat, I was thoroughly distracted by the poor, dead, bleeding animal. I could not identify with Elizabeth at all in these frequent sections. How can she claim to be a romantic at heart yet have so much of her life revolve around eating innocent creatures? I wound up skimming a lot.
Granted, I know readers who enjoy eating meat themselves won’t be bothered by these passages, but I am fairly certain they’ll be irritated by the change of tone of voice partway through the narrative. From telling us about how lucky she is to be living this life in Paris, Elizabeth suddenly changes into a bit of a pity party. Poor Elizabeth, living in Paris with a man who loves her, cooking food for him every day, giving tours of the Louvre. This isn’t how she imagined her life would work out. Um….ok. I’d suggest Elizabeth try reading some memoirs of true struggles such as The Glass Castle and get back to us.
Overall, the scenes of real Paris life are interesting and enjoyable, but the frequent scenes featuring bloody meat and Elizabeth’s pity party really detract from the book. If you are a meat eater yourself and a foodie, you’ll probably enjoy this memoir anyway. I’d advise others to stay away.
3 out of 5 stars