I'm not sure I know anyone who hasn't dreamed of packing up and moving somewhere exotic at some point. For me, it was always England. Until I read Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence. And then I read Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun. And then I realized that I need to be careful where I read about, because it doesn't take much to make me want to pack up and try an entirely different life. Or a life in an entirely different place.
Author and pastry chef David Lebovitz, formerly of Chez Panisse and now of the fabulous city of Paris, France, did just that. After many years in California, he moved to Europe and rented a tiny top floor apartment with a fantastic view. And after many years of renting, he decided to make the leap to buying an apartment. And lucky for us, he wrote about the entire experience in his newest book, L'Appart.
It sounds so easy, buying a home. In America, it would be easy. In France, it's not. Lebovitz struggles through every step of the process, from finding the right apartment in a city where there is no system for organizing homes on the market to dealing with the mountains of paperwork and bureaucracy necessary to buying a home. And he shares every step of his struggle, from the urine test to get his bank loan through all the renovations to creating his perfect Paris home with a kitchen amazing enough for an American pastry chef and cookbook author.
And throughout his honest and utterly delightful memoir, Lebovitz talks food. He shops for the freshest ingredients from the most discerning of Parisian farmers. He buys pastries and talks constantly of chocolate (consider that a warning as well as a selling point). He shares his recipes for some of his favorite French treats. And he makes almost every inch of the city sounds magical and delicious. To visit. Living there sounds like a challenge that is beyond my level of patience. But I do admire anyone who's willing to take that kind of chance. And if they can write about it in a way that infuses each chapter with humor, charm, self-deprecation, and intelligence? Then I have found my new home in the pages of that book. So if you need to find me, I'll be in L'Appart.
Galleys for L'Appart were provided by Crown Publishing through NetGalley, with many thanks.