Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris

Bloomsbury USA. Feb. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9781608195824. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781620406328. LIT
As a major destination for artists and writers over the years, Paris never ceases to capture the imagination. White (Princeton Univ.; A Boy's Own Story; Genet: A Biography; Marcel Proust: A Life) follows in this vein, presenting the City of Light as a serene haven in sharp contrast to the bustling New York City, where he previously resided. In Paris, he managed to learn the French language as well as master the culture with the help of his friend Marie-Claude de Brunhoff, the one person constant in his peripatetic social life. Leaving New York in 1983 at the height of the AIDS epidemic, White recounts the sad stories of his many gay friends and lovers claimed by the disease.
VERDICT This book succeeds as a gossipy and enlightening account of living as a gay man among the French intelligentsia, although it is marred by excessive celebrity name dropping. White's skillful writing rescues the book from being just another account of an American in Paris. Of particular interest is the penetrating look at how the French view themselves as the cultural elite of the world. Recommended for memoir enthusiasts and lovers of Paris. [See Prepub Alert, 8/5/13.]
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