Lucy Knisley is a young graphic artist who gets the opportunity to spend 5 weeks in Paris, staying in an apartment with her mother who is celebrating her 50th birthday. Lucy is 22 years of age and is looking forward to hopefully going to graduate school. She has left behind her boyfriend and is waiting to hear whether she has been accepted into the school she wants so whilst she is in France, she is still also very involved in her life back home.
She is a graphic artist and so it is an obvious choice for her travel memoir to take this form. There are also some black and white photos scattered throughout the narrative but they are not the primary focus (which is lucky because some of them are pretty average). It is really the drawings about Paris which bring the most satisfaction to the reader, or to this reader at least.
Somewhere in my many moves since I returned from the travelling I have lost my diary of my travels and in some ways I am glad. It does mean that I can't necessarily remember what we saw and did and ate every day and I have probably forgotten a lot, but I think I would be quite surprised at how different my thoughts and opinions would be about many of the things we experienced. I am also pretty sure that my travel plans would include a lot of different places than it did back then too, reflecting more of the things that I have become interested in or learned since that time. I wonder if Lucy Knisley finds that to be true of this memoir? There were times where she comes across as being a bit bratty and selfish and it might well be a bit shocking to look back and see it recorded for all time in the form of this book, or maybe she wouldn't be! For example, I found it quite amazing that someone who is planning to spend five weeks in France would have made no effort whatsoever to learn even the basics of the French language.
In the blurb, it talks about dealing with the shifting relationship between mother and daughter and with Lucy grappling with the onslaught of adulthood. Whilst both of these were elements of the narrative I didn't necessarily think that Lucy displayed any particular degree of growth in either of these aspects or even examine them in any great degree of depth. I was more engaged with the story being told when the focus was less on Lucy and her relationships (particularly her griping about the fact that she couldn't see her boyfriend) and more on the daily details. I can see that some people might find the "and then we had baguette and sausage for dinner" type of narrative a bit boring. However, as someone who finds the idea of being able to spend a few weeks just wandering the streets of Paris exploring the art galleries, museums, cafes, markets and more completely mesmerising, it was very interesting to me and her love of culture and food shone through. Click on the image on the right for an example of Knisley's art.
I would add the disclaimer that there is no way known I could do four weeks anywhere with my mother. It's hard enough when she comes here for that length of time.
As you can hopefully tell, I had quite mixed emotions about this book as I read it. There were elements that I thoroughly enjoyed and others that I really didn't! I was sufficiently engaged by Knisley's style to want to see more of her work. I have recently requested her book Relish via interlibrary loan, which focuses more directly on her love of food and cooking.
A place where young Americans can seek poetic magic in the winding streets of a beautiful city. The museums, the cafes, the parks. An artist like Lucy can really enjoy Paris in January. If only she can stop griping at her mother. This comic journal details a mother and daughters month-long stay in a small apartment in the fifth arrondissement. Lucy is grappling with the onslaught of adulthood. Her mother faces fifty. They are both dealing with their shifting relationship. All the while, they navigate Paris with halting French and dog-eared guidebooks.
Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.