March was a good month for reading independently published books. Of course, we read indie every month because we have lots of choices for each box and read each book we're considering before eventually deciding on each quarter's title, but March was particularly good for personal reading that happened to come from indie publishers (i.e books we aren't keeping secret!).
I don't theme my reading, but both of these books are particularly spring feeling - one in theme and one just because it's a Persephone book (although Persephone books also seem like autumn, summer and winter books to me so I'm not sure that that's not cheating slightly but still!) so I wanted to talk about them a little and hopefully inspire some of you to get hold of a copy!
Paris My Sweet is Amy Thomas's memoir of her time spent living in Paris and her obsession with all things sweet and pastry. It's delicious both in writing and content and it will make you hungry. Like, really hungry.
"Forever a girl obsessed with all things French, sweet freak Amy Thomas landed a gig as rich as the purest dark chocolate: leave Manhattan for Paris to write ad copy for Louis Vuitton. Working on the Champs-Elysees, strolling the charming streets, and exploring the best patisseries and boulangeries, Amy marvelled at the magnificence of the City of Light.
But does falling in love with one city mean turning you back on another? As much as Amy adored Paris, there was part of her that felt like a humble chocolate chip cookie in a sea of pristine macaroons. Paris, My Sweet explores how the search for happiness can be as fleeting as a salted caramel souffle's rise, as intensely satisfying as molten chocolate cake, and about how the life you're meant to live doesn't always taste like the one you've envisioned."
Yes, this is a food memoir, but it's also about Amy's troubles fitting in in a new city, learning the language and feeling like she doesn't belong in her old or her new towns. Having moved across country way back when I can sort of relate to that feeling - not fully belonging anywhere can be so hard. I also feel a little like she related to patisseries in a similar way to the way I relate to bookshops - so where she was using familiar and unfamiliar sweet treats to comfort herself and bring a sense of home, I'd be using bookshops in the same way, and I think this relatability is part of what I enjoyed so much about Paris, My Sweet. I also really liked that each chapter focused on a different sweet treat - cupcakes, cookies, macaroons etc - and at the end she gave suggestions of places you could visit in both Paris and New York to try awesome versions of the thing. I've been to both Paris and New York in the dim and distant past and cling to the idea of going again so I was most definitely bookmarking her suggestions for future use!
Read if: you like memoirs, food writing, travel writing, or anything that's mostly just fun with an underlying layer of serious issues.
Persephone Books are excellent. One of my favourite publishers and one of my favourite bookshops, I've mentioned them here multiple times before so I'm sure you're sick of hearing it, but I will keep saying it. High Wages is my second Dorothy Whipple after I read and loved They Were Sisters last year. They aren't at all similar except that Dorothy Whipple is an observer of people and their habits and responses to each other on the same level as Jane Austen. Her books are generally a little darker and slightly heavier in subject matter than Austens' but she definitely has a similar wit and observation style.
Because Persephone themselves don't really do blurbs I'll give you as much as I got. Here's some of the quote from the inside cover, see if it piques your interest!
"This business, Miss Carter,' said Mr Chadwick, still speaking from a very high horse, 'has gone on very nicely for many years. It went on very nicely before you came to it, and I dare say it will go on very nicely when you have left it.' That sounded very well.
'But the new ways aren't at all loud or cheap.' Jane was not to be put off so easily. 'Mr Fenwick is trying them.'"
Read if: you like Persephone books, Jane Austen, or books that focus on people and have female characters with backbone!
As usual we'll be sharing the love and you can enter to win both of these books by filling in the Rafflecopter form below. Please note that Paris, My Sweet is a second hand copy and does have a label mark on the spine but both books are in good readable condition and we'll send them to you anywhere in the world.