I came across this review of True Pleasures: A Memoir of Women in Paris at Alex in Leeds’ blog and immediately thought it sounded like something I’d be interested in. Luckily for me, I then won a copy!
I spent a very lovely weekend curled up with this book, dreaming of Paris. I’ve been to Paris a couple of times, but simply haven’t spent enough time there to know my way around. Lots of people (including members of my family) fall passionately in love with Paris, but I have never had a chance to share that passion – Italy is my love! Lucinda Holdforth, however, is one of those people. Like many before her, she is attracted to the city and is full of admiration for the women that live there.
In True Pleasures, Holdforth wanders around Paris visiting important landmarks, but not necessarily the usual places that the average tourist might make for. Instead, she is wandering through the streets of history; the streets where her idols walked before her. Paris captured the hearts of grand courtesans, influential writers and other important female figures in the world of art and culture. Fabulous women came to live in Paris to be free and experience the pleasures of life. It all sounds rather wonderful! But life was not always so fantastic, and we learn about the ups and downs of the lives of some of the women that Holdforth most admires; Nancy Mitford, Colette, Coco Chanel, Napoleon’s Josephine, Gertrude Stein, Edith Wharton and many more.
I have to admit that I’m quite ignorant when it comes to the history of Paris, and although I have heard of most of the women mentioned in True Pleasures, I do not know much about them! Holdforth’s approach is so engaging, and informative enough, that it doesn’t matter if you don’t even know the basics. I found it a very good starting point to learn a bit about all of the great women without being bombarded with too much information and lots of confusing dates. We are also given some glimpses of Holdforth’s own life and thoughts. Because of this, the book feels nothing like a history lesson, but more of a personal travel journal with some fascinating snippets of history.
Now, all I have to do is find a similar book about Italy and I’ll be in heaven!
If you want to learn more about the talented women of Paris, you can buy the book by clicking on the picture below.