I hugged this book when I finished reading it. I do that sometimes. I'm a book hugger. Consequently, so is my toddler--hugs his favorite books all the time. Anyway, Black Girl in Paris, had been on my to-read list for years upon years, when I found it, used, on the clearance shelf at Half Price books for $1. I wrote about what I found inside it >>HERE<<--one more thing that made finally reading this book that much more special.
It reads like a memoir. Eden, is a young American girl, who loved books and writing and always knew she wanted to go to Paris, like her idols had, to become a writer. She knew that she was meant to go there and meet James Baldwin and be changed forever, but she had no idea how it would happen, nor what the specific change would be. She was a dreamer. After graduating from college in the 80's, she buys a ticket to Paris. While in Paris, she meets some pretty colorful characters who touch her in many ways, literally and figuratively. When the author describes sexual encounters with men and women Eden meets, she does so in a way that is so poetic and sensual that even the most disturbing encounters don't seem disturbing at all. These encounters are important in telling Eden's story, but this book is NOT about the sex. It's about having a dream and single-mindedly pursuing that dream (unavoidable cliché alert) against all odds. There where so many reasons why Eden should have never gone to Paris,and times when she should have gone back home, but she was so determined to (another unavoidable cliché alert) achieve her dream that she suffered through some pretty tough times to realize them. The stories of some of the people Eden met ended sadly, but her ending...also her beginning...is uplifting.
So uplifting in fact that it inspired me to do something very French: a bath. In the novel, there is a Turkish bath house, but we don't have those here--and frankly, even if we did, I would stay very-very far away from them. Still, all the talk of steam and heat and relaxation and nudity made me want to participate in my own hot bath soaking action. And what better way to make it feel French, than by adding Rose Bath Powder by L'Occtaine to the bath? What's the point of taking a bath anyway if you're not going to indulge? I digress.
I've never been to Europe, but I would like to. I don't have dreams of going anyplace and walking in anybody's footsteps for inspiration to take my own steps. But, like Eden, I do have dreams. Childhood dreams. And after reading her story, I'm inspired to pursue them with more passion.