Friday, January 1, 2016

The City of Light @JulietBlackwell #giveaway

  
LUCY BURDETTE: HAPPY NEW YEAR REDS! Now on to our first blog of 2016...

I love Paris, let's face it, who doesn't? And I've been wondering about how the city has fared in the months after those terrifying attacks. I thought of Juliet Blackwell, who's written a wonderful novel set in Paris. Might she like to write a blog about her experiences in the city? Luckily for us, she said yes! And we'll start the new year off right with a giveaway of her book--leave a comment with your email to be entered.

JULIET BLACKWELL: I’ve been spending a lot of time in Paris over the past few years.

(I know, I know, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it…) 
The reasons are simple: First, I fell in love with a French man. Second, I based my recent novel, The Paris Key (9/15), in the cobblestoned, fairytale-like Marais neighborhood of the City of Light; my second, Letters from Paris (coming 9/16), is set in the ancient Latin Quarter.

And third: pain au chocolat. Seriously, have you ever seen a genuine Parisian bakery?

Anyway, I digress.  Since I’ve spent so much time in France lately, American friends naturally turned to me after the recent terrorist attacks on the city, asking: how will Paris –and Parisians-- react?

Of course, it’s difficult to make declarations about national character without falling into stereotypes. After all, we humans are individuals and not everyone tows the party line or fits in or agrees, no matter the culture.

But that said, I’m going to make a few sweeping generalizations about the French people in general, and Parisians in particular: 
They are not new to violence. Every time I’m in France – every single time—at least one elderly person thanks me for the American intervention in World War II.  Sadly, the German invasion was nothing new; the history of Paris is steeped in war. As early as 845 The Vikings laid siege to the city. Prussians invaded Paris in 1814. In the 1950s/60s Algeria’s National Liberation Front set off bombs; a decade later “Carlos the Jackal” terrorized Paris. And in the 1990s the Armed Islamic Group committed hijackings and bombings in and around the City of Light. There is now a permanent military presence in the city – it’s not unusual to see uniformed men on street corners holding scary-looking weapons. However, while implementing certain security measures French citizens are loath to give up their hard-won civil rights. Which leads me to my next point…

They are wonderfully stubborn. The French have developed their beloved customs over many centuries and the Parisians, in particular, see themselves as curators and conservators of world-class standards in art, cooking, philosophy, fashion, and café-culture. Paris’s leadership in these areas is up for debate, of course, but it speaks to the core of the Parisian identity. So terrorists attack cafés and music venues and sporting events in an attempt to force Parisians to change their lifestyle? Good luck with that. The French didn’t fold under the Vikings, or the Prussians, or the Nazis, and they won’t collapse in the face of a few murderous religious fanatics.

The recent attacks will make them stronger. I haven’t been back to Paris since the attacks, but I hear from friends that people are smiling more, helping one another, reaching out to neighbors and inviting one another out to cafés more often. Just as happened in New York City after 9/11, an attack on its citizenry has brought people together to mourn, to rebuild, and to resist.

I can’t wait to go back and linger with a friend at a café, chatting about philosophy and art and romance over a glass of wine. Isn’t that what life, and Paris, is all about?

That, and pain au chocolat, of course.


Juliet Blackwell was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She studied Latin American Studies at University of California, Santa Cruz, and earned Masters in Anthropology and Social Work from the State University of New York, Albany. Upon her return to the Bay Area she established her own decorative painting studio, specializing in historic homes. In addition to mainstream novels (The Paris Key; Letters from Paris), Juliet pens the New York Times Bestselling Witchcraft Mysteries, Haunted Home Renovation series, and Agatha-Award nominated Art Lover’s Mystery series. She is past president of NorCal Sisters in Crime and former board member of Mystery Writers of America.

Keep in touch with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
And here's a link to her Yahoo Travel article on the Marais neighborhood

39 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

Happy New Year! May 2016 bring each of you all the very best of everything and may your fondest dream come true this year . . . .

As horrific as the terror attacks were, the people of Paris showed the world that they were too strong for the cowardly attackers to break their spirits. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with them.

I'm not sure we always remember that many European countries, like France, have a long history of such attacks. The strength of the people in the face of invasions and such is a model in bravery for the rest of the world. May the good people of Paris continue to be so stubborn!
Thanks for the reminder that many people around the world still live in precariousness . . . .

Gram said...

Vive la France!! May all you New Year wishes come true. grammyd01@comcast.net

Edith Maxwell said...

I haven't been to Paris in twenty years, but I agree with all your characterizations. And so glad the denziens are coming together after the attacks. Life can be scary out there and we have to take care of each other. Plus pain au chocolate...

Ramona said...

Vive la France, baby! My ancestors are Acadians. That stubborn thing is God's own truth.

Anonymous said...

Oh so true. Vive la France! quirkfarms@msn.com

Hallie Ephron said...

This is reminding me how much I love Paris, and that it's been too long since I've been back. And the bakeries! Remembering the apricot and pistachio tart, purchased at a bakery and eaten on the hoof... exquisite.

Juliet, the cover of your book is so evocative. Is there a story behind it?

aggie56 said...

I would love to go to France someday in the meantime I could enjoy a book. Thanks this opportunity azelgert@gmail.com

aggie56 said...

I would love to go to France someday in the meantime I could enjoy a book. Thanks this opportunity azelgert@gmail.com

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

What a perfect blog for today--about perseverance, and history, and beauty, and joy and food. Perfect! Every moment in Paris is amazing..there IS something about the light.

ANd yes, let's hear more about your stories, Juliet!

Oh--and Happy New Year, darling Reds!

Roxie Faubion said...

Always looking to visit a new city through someone else's eyes. The book sounds wonderful.
Roxie---Roxie.faubion@gmail.com

Margaret Turkevich said...

When I was in DC for Thanksgiving, we saw police armed with automatic weapons and a bomb-sniffing dog on the Metro platform with us. It's our new reality, worldwide. We're taking our cue from the proud people of Paris, watchful and aware, but defiant. Life is too precious to have it taken away from us.

Margaret.turkevich@gmail.com

Grandma Cootie said...

Perfect post to start 2016. We are reminded that there is a good side to human nature, too. And that when horrific things happen we pull together, grow stronger, and enjoy simple things like chocolate. And books - as I was reading the post the Reds' book covers were scrolling by on the FB page. Many happy hours of reading. Happy 2016 everyone.
sallycootie@gmail.com

Rhonda Lane said...

Happy New Year! Hey, I saw this announcement on Facebook. Want to go to Paris, spend a month there? Check out the American Library's Visiting Fellowship - but move quickly. The deadline is 2/12/16.

http://americanlibraryinparis.org/events-programs/visiting-fellowship.html

Juliet Blackwell said...

Thanks so much for all your comments, everyone! Hallie -- I wish I could take credit for the cover of the book, but all credit goes to the art department at Penguin and to Virginia Jones, a photographer from Alabama. Here's her site: http://www.virginiajonesphotography.com/Virginia_Jones_Photography.com/Home.html -- she's amazing! Since my main character in THE PARIS KEY is a locksmith, it was an easy decision to use a photo of fabulous old Parisian doors on the cover. After all, opening up to life is a bit like opening doors ;-)

Juliet Blackwell said...

Oh, and Ramona -- I have Acadian ancestors as well, so I know about that stubborn thing first-hand, too! Grandma Cootie --i Agree wholeheartedly -- it is incumbent upon us to enjoy life with passion and love (and reading!) And Margaret -- I agree, the military presence is daunting, but we must all remain watchful and defiant. Well put!

Karen in Ohio said...

French heritage here, as well, with some of my ancestors coming through Canada. Whatever the reason, the stubborn does seem ingrained!

The first time I was in Paris was six months prior to 9/11, and because of the Bosnian/Serb war and refugee situation, there were armed military types at Charles de Gaulle, with their fingers on the triggers of their scary weapons. Now, of course, we're less shocked at such an image here, but it was a bit of culture shock to me at the time.

Nonetheless, Paris is one of the world's most lustrous treasures, and I am always fascinated by it, and interested in stories that take place there. Also: pain au chocolat, which is best when enjoyed in Paris, naturellement!

Judy S said...

My husband and I went to Europe for a delayed honeymoon in 1994. We spent 3 days in Paris. It was July, and the middle of a heat wave, but I loved every single minute of it! We had been warned about temperamental French people who weren't always nice to Americans, but we found that to be completely untrue. We were surrounded by gracious helpful people and had a lovely time. And breakfast?! Buttery fresh baked croissants and cafe au lait! Would love to go back, but for now, would enjoy visiting through the pages of your book. jlschaafsma@comcast.net

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Dear Juliet, welcome! I am such a fan of yours and absolutely LOVED The Paris Key! Delighted to say I just booked my tickets to Paris to do research for Maggie Hope #7 — any and all advice appreciated...

Hallie Ephron said...

Susan, my advice: TAKE ME WITH YOU! You need an assistant, right?

traveler said...

Your novel sounds captivating and special. Paris holds an allure that very few other cities have. To visit and experience the culture, language and culinary delights would be like a dream come true. Your delightful book would transport me to another world. Thanks for your feature and giveaway. Your talent and creativity is wonderful.

petite said...

I was born and lived in Montreal most of my life and then left for the U.S. Learning French was a requirement and for me an enjoyable experience. Not yet had the opportunity to visit Paris but Mtl. has so much culture, history and the European flavor which is charming and prevalent throughout the entire city. I visit frequently and love the place. Wishing you happiness and a successful 2016. What a fascinating book you have written.

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Who wants to meet me in Paris? Seriously! (Just bought ballet tickets....)

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Hallie, that would be so fun to meet there! I tried to have my trip correspond with Cara Black, but alas, it just didn't work out. I'm on my own in Paris for research in late April, then meeting Noel and Kiddo in London.

Libby Dodd said...

I hope their sense of oneness after the attacks lasts a very long time. It sets a fine example for us all.

Juliet Blackwell said...

Susan -- I'll be there in March, so sorry we won't be there at the same time! My best advice to *anyone* in Paris is pretty much the same for anyone traveling: be sure to schedule plenty of "nothing" time. Time to wander the streets without a particular goal in mind, to stroll and chat with locals and see the non-touristy side of the city. The museums and churches are amazing, of course, but nothing beats simply walking around and allowing serendipity to guide you!

Juliet Blackwell said...

Judy S -- I have to say, I've always been treated well by Parisians! I'm not sure where their reputation for rudeness comes from...I've encountered the occasional rude waiter (especially in tourist zones) but I think that holds true for any crowded tourist area, here as well as there. So glad you had your delayed honeymoon in the City of Light and were able to so enjoy it!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Also Susan, read David Lebovitz's blog. He's a former pastry chef (American) living in Paris and he has tons of info about places to eat and see. And he has wonderful cookbooks too.

Thanks for visiting us today Juliet!

Sherille Raymond said...

I have been escaping to Paris for the last few years with a good friend of mine. That week recharges, reenergizes and releases us from our everyday lives. I am still trying to convince her to go again this year. Just in case though I can use this book as my literary escape.

Deborah Crombie said...

Juliet, can you tell us more about the book? I'm enchanted just by the title and the cover. I love Paris. (Who doesn't love Paris??) I remember years ago, on my first visit with my parents, we'd been told how unfriendly the French were, and that they would sneer at you if you tried to speak French. I can't tell you how many times people stopped to ask if we needed help or directions, and nodded and smiled at my atrocious bits of French. (They, of course, spoke English...)

You've placed temptation in my way with this post today--I'm off to London for three weeks on Monday. I could just nip over to Paris for the day, right? Only thing is, my daughter would kill me for going without her:-)

Juliet Blackwell said...

Deborah -- thank you for asking about the book! THE PARIS KEY is about an American woman who inherits her uncle's Parisian locksmith shop at a time when she feels the need to escape an unhappy marriage. The question is, will she be able to unlock family secrets about her mother's past in the City of LIght, and open the doors to her own happiness?
I, too, have had great luck with friendly people in Paris. Part of it is that I speak a little French, and I think it always goes a long way while traveling to at least know how to say "please" and "Thank you"!
And finally, YES you should by all means nip on over to Paris for a few days -- it's so incredibly close! Maybe take your daughter with you ;-)

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year everyone! Always looking for the next great read and this one, if you can judge a book by its cover :).......looks terrific! Helen. hnordseth@sbcglobal.net

Pat D said...

Juliet, I love the plot! And the book cover is really cool. I've never been to Paris or France for that matter. England and Spain are the closest I've managed so far. No French in my family (lots of hardheaded Swedes, English, Scots, Irish, etc). My husband's family (Dupuy) came directly from France and settled in the northernmost French-speaking parish in Louisiana, Avoyelles. So, no Acadians/cajuns in the mix. They are all delightful people. When we visited Nova Scotia eons ago the French that was spoken was so similar to the French my husband's aunts spoke it was spooky. And wonderful. I can't wait to read your book. Happy New Year to all!

Juliet Blackwell said...

Thank you, Pat! I had such fun with this book, in large part because I got to spend so much time in France for "research" ;-) I'm a huge fan of Spain, too (spent a year there in college) and Italy and England and...just a fan of Europe, I suppose! As to your point about the French, one of the things I love about the language are its various forms in Africa, the Caribbean, Quebec, and France. So fun!

Anonymous said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR every JRW and every back bloggers.

On my way to Aquitaine where my ancester came from, I stayed in Paris four days, not long enough...
My hôtel was called St-Paul too but in Quartier Latin near Luxembourg gardens:loved the place.
Each place you visit stays in your hearth and if something bad happens, it tear it open.
I'm glad that Parisians are recovering. Always glad to read books situated in places visited and your story is very interesting Juliet.
I wish you good success with this series.

Danielle- momo

servedogmom said...

The New Year unfolds with endless possibilities bringing hope. To wish everyone bright moments of happiness, quiet moments of beauty, and a year filled with all the good things you deserve! May serenity touch you gentle every morning, May peace be your companion through each day, and in every restful hour. May dreams renew your soul. Wishing you a year of health, happiness, and all good things (especially peace be it in Europe or on the streets of Chicago). servedogmom@yahoo.com

Juliet Blackwell said...

Thanks again for having me on the blog today, Jungle Red! It was a pleasure -- and such a great way to start the New Year!!!

Ann in Rochester said...

We returned to Rochester from Paris a week before the latest terrorist attack. Friends asked if we weren't glad to be home. My answer was "NON". I love France and Paris, and I would live there if I could. SinceNovember13 I have often wished to be in the 7th, "Je suis en terrasse."

Yet another terror bombing was planned for New Year's Eve just a few miles from my home. No place is without danger. And no place is as wonderful to me as the City of Light. I don't know your books Juliet, but I am off to Amazon to have a look. Bonne chance and bonne annee

AnnieM said...

Can only dream (and read) of going to Paris. Hope to win this book and dream some more! annie8848@aol.com

rj7777 said...

France is so wonderful and would love to go there someday!! Thanks for the sweet giveaway! Rita Spratlen