Tuesday, March 13, 2018

L'Appart - David Lebovitz

Title: L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home
Author: David Lebovitz
Publication Date: 11/7/2017
Pages: 368
Genre: Food / Memoir / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
Date Completed: 2/24/18

Summary: After years of renting in Paris, Lebovitz decided it was time to own his own place. L'Appart recounts the harried process of buying and renovating his new home. 

What I Thought: Most books I read about life in France have me half-packed by the last page. I'm enamored of French culture and, while I would still move overseas in a heartbeat, this particular memoir pulls back the veil from the harsh reality of what international life can be. Lebovitz really went through the ringer. Of course, upon conclusion, I'd argue that many of his issues could have happened in any country in the world. French culture just aggravated the intensity of it all. 

Having read several of Lebovitz's previous books, it was nice to check back in with him and get an update on his life in Paris. Interestingly, he was attempting to write the books I've read while going through this whole process. Knowing that will give me such a new appreciation every time I open his cookbook for dinner prep (which I do often). 

As I mentioned above, regardless of country, this is just a renovation nightmare story. The first part, where Lebovitz is going through the process of buying the actual place, seems quintessentially French. There are the expected cultural tics and tricks. Once he starts on renovations, though, the bad becomes worse at nearly every turn. You can't help feeling heartbroken for the poor man who just wants a place to live, but also riveted to find out how much worse things can possibly get. 

While it would be easy to blame all the drama on Parisian culture, I certainly don't think that's the best takeaway. I finished the book thinking, "Almost this entire nightmare could happen to us. We know basically as little about home renovations as Lebovitz and could be just as easily swayed into terrible choices." So, despite being a bit of a nightmare come to life story, it has not dissuaded any desire I have to someday live in France. I think Lebovitz would say, in the end, he's still quite happy to be where he is. 

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Maybe.
Other Books By David Lebovitz: My Paris Kitchen / The Sweet Life in Paris

A Reduced Review: This tale of renovation nightmares may make you hesitant to engage with other cultures, but it shouldn't! It's a tale of surviving and celebrating in new places.

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