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