This is a book about a young woman who gets reluctantly sent to school in Paris to finish off her high school years. She meets and falls in love with a boy named Etienne St. Claire; however, he is already in a relationship. The love triangle is the main focus here, but the images and sites of Paris consumed me in a way a book about Some Other Place hasn’t in a long, long time. I immediately picked up its sequels: Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After. It wasn’t until Isla that I realized how desperately I was in love – not with the writing, the characters, or the romance stories (indeed, the love triangle was re-hashed in Lola, and who really needs that melodrama) – but the setting in Paris. There were such explicit descriptions of so many landmarks, food, music, and people. The inclusion of it being in a school setting most likely enhanced my love for it. I love learning, and I love being around learning.
I had an experience in college where I heard this song drifting through my windows, and it was a moment I haven’t forgotten, even seven or eight years later. There’s something about beautiful music you haven’t purposefully chosen surrounding you that is incredibly magical. So, Isla hears this song while sitting in her dorm in much the same fashion:
While finding this song on Spotify and playing it – loudly – I became overwhelmed with a longing I didn’t understand. I’ve been to Paris. Twice. Which is two more times than the average person I’ve met. Don’t get me wrong; both trips were tremendous, and my trip after 8th grade is most certainly why I deeply appreciate art today. However, I never felt this kind of longing before for it. I’ve felt it for Italy, Madison, the Bay Area, and Chicago – all when I lived somewhere else.
It launched a very earnest search for French songs to listen to, more books to read set in Paris, and even inspired me to finally watch this DVD from Netflix I’d had since March.
Who knows what inspires us – what, why, and when – but I plan to play this mini obsession out for a bit longer.