Paris is a city that is consistently romanticized by Americans. It’s where our writers and artists retreated between the world wars. It’s where Hemingway and associates wrote, held salons, and drank all day in cafes. And it’s no different now, as creatives dream of sabbaticals in the romantic city and subsequently jet off to eat baguettes all day.
So, for our first installment of the #TravelGirlBookClub, I wanted to read a book that’s been on my shelf for a while now, My Paris Dream by Kate Betts. If you haven’t picked up your copy yet, buy it right here now. (I’ll try not to include any spoilers, but obviously, I’ll be discussing the story, so you might want to read the book first & bookmark this page for later.)
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments what you thought of this month’s pick! After all, a book club is all about discussion.
In My Paris Dream, Kate Betts tells her story of leaving New York to move to Paris after college. In Paris, she starts her career; finds family, friends and lovers; and grows her sense of style and culture. Some of the biggest themes I noticed were…
Feeling Like an Outsider, Feeling Like an Insider
Kate struggled with living in Paris and trying to avoid feeling like an outsider in the city. Paris is not a particularly friendly city to outsiders, so she struggled to feel that she fit when she first arrived. Slowly, she learned enough of the language and the fashion to start to feel like she fit. It seemed that there were constant reminders, though, that she wasn’t French, like when she attended a wedding and was the only woman there without a hat.
On the other side, though, she begins to feel comfortable in Paris and feels herself starting to lose touch with her previous life, old friends and family in New York. I found the struggle of insider/outsider particularly interesting as someone who spent a couple of years living across the country from most of my family and friends. It wasn’t as vast a divide for me of course, but I could sympathize with Kate’s feelings as she struggled with feeling comfortable in a foreign city.
Career Aspirations & Relationships
Another theme of the book is Kate’s navigation between her career and her relationships. She works extremely hard, and extremely long hours, even when she has a live-in boyfriend, missing out on lazy Sundays with him to go into work. The whole book follows Kate’s career from starting out willing to take practically anything to moving up the ranks and becoming a well-respected editor.
I found the key theme in Kate’s time in France was persistence in work. She always worked extremely hard, put in the extra time, took note of the culture and the practices of her industry, and dressed the part. She through herself into her job, and I thought it was a good reminder for young readers (like myself, just beginning my career) to work hard and you will find success.
Finding Purpose in Fashion
I love that Kate struggled with this, because I think it’s a conflict that so many of us who love fashion and beauty struggle with: is fashion frivolous? Is there meaning to be found in it? Does working in fashion really matter?
Of course, those of us who stuff our closets with the clothes the women we want to be would wear know how it matters. What we wear has the power to shape our moods and personalities both on a daily basis and over the course of a lifetime. Kate is as much defined by fashion and her evolving french style as she is by moving up the career ladder and working her butt off—in fact, her career and her style grow hand-in-hand.
Let’s Talk About It
Have you read My Paris Dream? I really enjoyed it and I hope you do too!
Once you’ve read it, let me know in the comments:
- Did this book make you want to travel to Paris or live abroad?
- Did this book make you question your career path or the way you balance relationships and career in your own life?
- How do you feel about your family and your friend-family (not blood relatives, but family nonetheless) after reading this book?