The book: (from the publisher) Lisa Anselmo wrapped her entire life around her mother, a strong woman who was a defining force in Lisa’s life―maybe too defining. When her mother dies from breast cancer, Lisa realizes she hadn’t built a life of her own and struggles to find her purpose. Who is she without her mother―and her mother’s expectations?
Desperate for answers, she turns to her favorite city―Paris―and impulsively buys a small apartment, refusing to play it safe for the first time. What starts out as an act of survival sets Lisa on a course that reshapes her life in ways she never could have imagined. Suddenly, she’s living like a local in a city she thought she knew, but her high school French, while fine for buying bread at the corner boulangerie, goes only so far when Paris gives her a strong dose of real life. From dating to homeownership in a foreign country, Lisa quickly learns it’s not all picnics on the Seine, and starts to doubt herself―and her love of the city. But she came to Paris to be happy, and she can’t give up now. Isn’t happiness worth fighting for?
My (Part-time) Paris Life a story is for anyone who’s ever felt lost or hopeless, but still dreams of something more. This candid memoir explores one woman’s search for peace and meaning, and how the ups and downs of expat life in Paris taught her to let go of fear, find self-worth, and create real, lasting happiness in the City of Light.
The author: LISA ANSELMO has spent most of her professional career in magazine publishing, working on such iconic brands as Allure, Mademoiselle, InStyle, and People. She’s been everything from a creative director to an opera singer, but ultimately, she has followed her passion for storytelling and inspiring people.
Anselmo started traveling to Paris regularly more than ten years ago―at first, to cover the fashion trade shows for a lifestyle website. But soon, she had cultivated friends―both Parisians and expats―and eventually built another life across the ocean. After losing her mother to breast cancer, she was motivated to make her other life official, buying an apartment in Paris’s Right Bank.
In 2014, she decided to leave her day job, and now splits her time between New York and Paris, where she writes full time. Her experiences inspired the memoir My (Part-Time) Paris Life, a candid narrative of a woman searching for hope and healing in the city she loves.
Genre: Non-fiction/Memoir/Women’s Issues
[Tweet “Memoir equal parts vulnerable reflection and exuberant joie de vivre @Lisa_Anselmo. A delightful read.”]
Reflection: Lisa Anselmo’s memoir, My (Part-Time) Paris Life, enthralled me. First, it’s about Paris, a city that never seems to lose its allure. Second, it’s about mothers and daughters, a subject whose depths we can never fully plumb. Third, it’s about going away to find oneself, an idea that perennially captivates.
There’s something about witnessing another woman seeing what she wants and then going after it — even as she wrestles with doubts and the improbability of what she’s doing. It’s inspiring, and — if we have even a shred of a common impulse — motivates us to do the same.
Lisa’s literary voice is filled with wry joie de vivre and strikes exactly the right note between restraint and authenticity. She introduced me to a new concept — or rather, a new way of expressing a familiar concept, a fresh shorthand for that “thing that grabs your heart and says, yes!” The French call it a coup de couer, and doesn’t that just put it so neatly in a nutshell?
Lisa’s whole memoir is really about her discovery of a series of coup de couers — an apartment first, and then an entire second life in the City of Light, with insightful moments at many points along the way. Of course every reader will claim a different coup de couer — we don’t all desire to move to Paris — but those with any sense of life’s potential will see how Lisa’s story applies to our own. This is the genius of memoirs like hers: learning about another’s journey sheds light on our own.
Lisa Anselmo show us the value of saying goodbye to an old way of life so that we may say hello to a new one unencumbered. By her own example, she reveals what possibilities await us when we’re willing to take risks, make plans, and throw ourselves headlong after our coup de couer.
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for providing me this copy free of charge. All opinions are mine.
After words: What is your coup de couer?