The Paris Novel

Random. Apr. 2024. 288p. ISBN 9780812996302. $29. F
Stella and her mother Celia have long been estranged. In a last, dying effort to control Stella’s life, Celia wills her daughter money that can only be spent on a trip to Paris. Stella is reluctant but needs a break from her regimented New York City existence. Arriving in Paris, she lives frugally, visiting all the tourist sights until, on impulse, she stops in a vintage dress shop with a Dior creation in the window. The shop owner convinces her to buy the dress and wear it while visiting a small museum and dining in an excellent restaurant. Stella follows these instructions and meets Jules, an elderly art expert who shows her another side of Paris, opening her mind to new possibilities. She sees Manet’s controversial painting Olympia and learns that the model, Victorine-Louise Meurent, was also a painter. Deep research helps Stella find and purchase a painting by Meurent, all while tracking down her own long-missing father and discovering a love of food. Reichl, the last editor-in-chief of the defunct Gourmet magazine, creates in her second novel (following Delicious!) a search for family and self that incorporates fashion, art, and food in a setting known for all three.
VERDICT This multi-layered story will appeal to those who love food, Paris, and a happy ending.
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