Janice is tired of her job as a copywriter in Los Angeles and sets a goal to quit her job and travel Europe. While planning this ambitious journey, she discovers so much about herself and what’s important in life. She starts in Paris, with plans to head to Scotland, England, and Rome but while she’s in these other countries, something – and someone – has a pull on her back in the beautiful French city. She feels different, without the stress of a corporate job, and strives to find a way to make her Parisian lifestyle full of love, words and art last.
I absolutely fell in love with this memoir. I don’t always read non-fiction, and I find that some Paris-set memoirs feel very similar in what the author is trying to say. Paris Letters did not feel that way whatsoever. Yes, it’s about a woman who leaves her corporate life to find herself in Paris but MacLeod’s voice is so down to Earth. She feels so relatable and approachable – with many similar thoughts and observations of Paris as when I had visited a few years ago that it’s like we were traveling buddies together.
MacLeod’s bravery and gumption to change something that wasn’t making her happy anymore is so inspiring. I have always said that you have no right to keep complaining about something if you don’t make the effort to change your situation. This novel illustrates that very idea of freeing yourself from the confines of “conventional” ways. Sure enough, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Having fallen in love with both the city and a charming man, MacLeod rediscovers her love of art and supports her new lifestyle by painting Parisian watercolours and writing letters on them, sending them out on a subscription service. This alone has left me awestruck that she was able to make a living to support herself. This book includes many of her letter paintings and has left me inspired to dig out my sketchbook and express myself creatively.
MacLeod has written a wonderful memoir, pulled from her own memory, the journal she kept for years and her personal blog. Paris Letters, with its sometimes-shorter chapter segments, certainly reads like a blog at times but I love that. It doesn’t ramble on and is succinct in each chapter’s message or theme. After reading this book, I am now jazzed to clean out my closet, draw & paint, and not continue to do something – whenever and whatever it may be – if it makes me unhappy.