Tuesday, November 1, 2022

RHYS DOES PARIS

 RHYS BOWEN: Today I'm celebrating my launch event for my new Royal Spyness mystery, PERIL IN PARIS!  It’s actually a week before the official release date as Poisoned Pen was already full for November 8, but I’m looking forward to an in person event which has hardly happened for three years now.  (It will also be live streamed if you don’t live near Phoenix. 7 pm. Pacific time)





As you can guess from the title Georgie and Darcy go to Paris. The action takes place at a fashion show at Chanel where Georgie gets involved in international espionage. Lots of fun with our favorite recurring characters making their cameo appearances.

This book is a big deal for me as it marks my 50th mystery/historical novel. Fifty novels in twenty five years. That’s two a year. Quite an output. So there will be much  celebration in the house of Bowen/Quin-Harkin.

And co-incidentally, I’ve just returned from Paris. Every time I go there it reminds me what a special sort of place it is. It is a city of beautiful buildings, of parks, of walks along the Seine, but also of enticing back-alleys, little courtyards, tiny shops.  I love the corner cafes where you can sit outside and watch the world go by for the price of a coffee and nobody ever brings you the bill until you ask for it. I love the parks where you can sit on a bench and watch Parisian life (especially if you’ve just bought a baguette with brie and apple and a pastry to follow it). I love that you can buy a pain au chocolate for one Euro!  I love the fresh vegetables and fruit, again so cheap. We bought strawberries that must have been picked the day before. So sweet!

Parisian women are so impossibly elegant and they know how to wear scarves. When I bought a sweater the saleswoman tried to get me to buy the scarf to go with it. She draped it over my shoulder and it looked great. “It’s no good,” I told her. “I’m not French. It would only fall off.”

Some things about Paris amaze me: we stayed in the Marais, full of little shops. On my street there were several shops that sold handmade crafts and jewelry,, one that sold only Japanese antiques, one old prints, and one that just sold ribbon.  How can anyone pay the rent just selling ribbon? Around the corner was a cheese shop with so many varieties the mind boggled and next door a shop that just sold things like  smoked salmon pinwheels and stuffed artichokes. 

Another thing that amazes me about the shops in France is that they are rarely open. They might put up their shutters at 11, then close for lunch from 1-3 and not open on Mondays or saint’s days. How does anyone make a  profit?

This time I was particularly observant not only because Peril in Paris is coming out but because my next stand-alone is set partly in Paris–before, during and after ww2. And mostly in the Marais where we were staying. So I observed everything to make sure I get the details right.  Also took notes on our river cruise: what does it feel like to go through a lock? To watch life on the banks as you drift past? To have swans come to my balcony? Lots of notes taken there too.

There are things about Paris that I don’t really like: too many people still smoke. If you sit outside at a restaurant you can be sure the people at the next table are smoking. There is dog poo on the sidewalks. People do not clean up after themselves. The traffic is insane. And at the moment there seems to be construction everywhere. I took a bus down to the Trocadero because I love the fountains, only to find the fountains are being refurbished and all I was looking at was construction equipment. Also now a strange thing has happened and churches and monuments have been commercialized: they give space on their walls to advertisers. It alarmed me to see a huge advert for a bank across the front of the Madeleine!

My last annoyance in Paris was that nobody wore a mask and everyone was coughing.  I tested myself–negative and went to the pharmacy. That’s another strange thing in France. You do not select your own medications. A dragon of a woman comes out and asks you what is wrong. She questions about all your symptoms. Then she gives you what she thinks you need (usually herbal as they don’t believe in drugs). Everyone in Paris has a cold right now, she said when I told her my symptoms.  Actually not everyone had a cold. One of them had Covid and I caught it.  Back in London I tested positive and spent several days shut in my hotel room. Luckily it was no worse than an annoying cold and I soon recovered but those were days I had planned to meet friends and do my shopping. I had to return home with no pickles or marmite or my favorite chocolates!

Who is a big fan of Paris? What do you like about it? And I hope some of you will join in this evening at the Poisoned Pen, or on their Facebook! See you there.

48 comments:

  1. Fifty books . . . what a marvelous achievement! Congratulations, Rhys . . . . and how wonderful that your launch event for “Peril in Paris” will be in person. I think we’ve all missed being able to be together for special events . . . .

    It surprises me to hear that there’s advertising on the walls of the churches and monuments, but I suppose every place has its own peculiarities . . . .

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    1. Me too, Joan. My jaw dropped at the idea that they are allowing anything to mar the beauty of the very monuments they are known for.

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  2. Congratulations on the new book, Rhys, and on the amazing publishing milestone!

    I haven't been to Paris in some years, but I certainly remember French cheese shops there and in Grenoble where I lived for a while. And the fill-your-own-bottle wine shop next door, that had huge casks with spigots. Delicious table wine free of sulfites for a dollar (then). But, yeah - the smoking, the rudeness, the dog doo-doo. No fun. So glad your COVID case was mild.

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    1. Plain old table wine in France is better than some of the "serious" wines, in my opinion. And no headaches!

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    2. Edith: Grenoble! I lived there for a short stint 1977/78 while being an au pair. Lovely memories.

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    3. I was there with an infant son (my first child) for five months in fall of 1986!

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    4. Edith, we once borrowed a farmhouse in Ardeche and had great fun filling our wine bottles like that. (Rhys who Google keeps anonymous)

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    5. What is it with the French and the dog poo? It's always such a shock after London, where people do clean up after their dogs. I can't imagine the lecture you'd get if someone saw you not pick up!

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  3. France was my first international trip taken and I enjoyed all the small towns we visited but enjoyed Paris the most especially as I got to see Notre Dame and visit the Lourve. I haven't been in a long time and hope to return sometime in the next few years.

    Sorry you got Covid but glad you are feeling better.

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    1. You’d be sad to see Notre Dame now, Dru! Only a lot of scaffolding ( Rhys)

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  4. Rhys, I will raise a glass to you and your stellar milestones tonight! Congratulations!

    Paris is still one of my favorite cities, dog poo and all. The first time I went to that lovely place I remembered what a friend said, that there is so much beauty you don't know where to turn your gaze. So true. The food--including those addictive pain au chocolats! And the light. Oh, I miss it.

    My diplomat daughter in Africa's tour of overseas duty ends next July, but her husband's begins in Athens then, so I'm hoping we get to enjoy Paris again. We plan to visit Greece and use it as a base for other parts of Europe. I'm starting a list!

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    1. Greece! How wonderful ! Lucky daughter

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  5. We were in Paris during Fashion week at the end of September. So exciting, with teens running around in tulle skirts and live music on the Champs Elysees. We chatted over dinner one night with a Swedish model in town for the Balenciaga show. He answered my many questions about the fashion business. Otherwise, the gardens were lovely (Jardin des Plantes! Giverny!), the rain held off, and we discovered gems like the Montmartre museum and the gardens at the Rodin Museum.

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    1. I’d love to have been there for fashion week!

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  6. congratulations Rhys! 50 books is amazing and I cannot wait to read this one! I love Paris dearly and have a trip planned for next April that had to be postponed because of Covid. I love the description of you taking notes on everything--for a book of course. I will be doing the same thing! You're such an amazing role model and we are proud to have you among the Reds!

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  7. My memories of Paris go back more than 40 years, so they're all good and wonderful: cafes, art galleries, museums, and care-free days of wandering the streets. I've clearly forgotten the dog poop, but I do remember the smoking! When I turned down a cigarette offered to me by someone at a party, they could not believe I didn't smoke.

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  8. Congratulations Rhys. Fifty books is quite an accomplishment. I will either watch live tonight or watch the recording tomorrow. Poisoned Pen will send me my book and I'll probably set all the others aside to catch up with Georgie as soon as it arrives. The audiobook will probably get here first but I like to read before I listen.

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  9. Congratulations, Rhys! 50 books in 25 years - that's amazing.

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  10. Your output is amazing Rhys! Congratulations!
    I've been in Paris twice. The first time was many years ago when I was 15. We stayed in a small older hotel with a creaky open cage type lift. The concierge was a dignified older lady--I'm not sure if she was knitting, but my dad nicknamed her 'Madame Defarge'--we were all intimidated. Several of us caught a virus and a doctor came to the hotel. My treatment was in the form of suppositories--very strange and embarrassing for a shy teenager--but they worked.

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  11. Congratulations Rhys on your 50th book !
    I have preordered Peril in Paris and I’m looking forward to reading it. I love the Royal Spyness series.

    While visiting France, ten years ago, we stayed a couple of days in Paris. We walked around, visiting the city and the attractions but it was awfully cold and it even snowed. This reduced our enthusiasm a little as we could have had cold and snow at home but we didn’t expect this in Paris.
    Danielle

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  12. RHYS: Congratulations on your newest Georgie book! And 50 books is an amazing milestone.

    Yes, I adore Paris, but it's been a while since I was there. So many great memories, especially the first (and only) time I took my mom there on her dream vacation. We stayed in an adorable hotel in le Marais and had wonderful bistro meals. We visited many museums but Musee d'Orsay was our favourite since we both loved Impressionist art. And since she worked for an haute couturier designer in Toronto, she loved all the high fashion and the well-dressed women.

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    1. Your mom worked in haute couture! I wish I could have met her !

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  13. Rhys, 50 books! And Georgie is just what I need right now--the Paris setting is the icing on the cake! Congratulations!

    I've never made it to Paris, but I feel as if I have--maybe in a previous life? Or through books--books can be transporting.

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  14. Hank Phillippi RyanNovember 1, 2022 at 9:16 AM

    Standing ovation!! I hope the champagne is flowing chez toi—congratulations on your incredible milestone! You work so hard and have so much fun and so much love—you are such an inspiration! Xxx

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  15. Congratulations on this big milestone. You are an inspiration to us all. And I love those Georgie books. Can't wait to get my hands on the new one.
    Paris? As Audrey Hepburn said, "Always a good idea." and what you wrote makes me want to go back. Like any great city, it is enchanting and full of wonderful surprises...and has its drawbacks, too. (French woman are thin because they smoke, and I heard that from a French woman) An interesting memory: I was there alone in 1997 - tacked on to a work trip- my first time there in 25 years - and there were no signs in anything but French. A few years later, multi lingual signs everywhere. And my husband, wanting to practice French, found everyone wanted to practice their English with him.

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    1. That’s so true, Triss. Everyone now speaks English and so many English words have been adopted into French (Rhys)

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  16. Congratulations on the big milestone! 50 Novels in 25 years! Wow! That aligns with my memory of meeting you 25 years ago! I think that was your first Evan Evans mystery when I met you at Black Oak books.

    What did I love about Paris? Pleasantly surprised by how nice the people were because I have heard of how rude the French people could be. My tour group stayed on the Rue Clerc and NO dog poop at all. I was there in September of 2006. Another wonderful surprise was the abundance of goat cheese in cheese shops. I never had a problem with goat cheese. I remember the beauty of the streets. Flowers outside the shops.

    The hotel where my tour group stayed was interesting. I shared a room with another single tourist. The bathroom was very small. It was almost as small as if you were in the lavatory on the plane. I was fine but I would NEVER recommend staying at that hotel if you are: very TALL; NOT slim (I was very slim at that time) and or not comfortable in small spaces.

    Some people would have problems with the hotel. I was fine with it.

    About restaurants, people could walk into the restaurant smoking cigarettes or cigars! I would prefer the option of eating outside because the air would not be stuck inside the room. I managed to have wonderful salad with goat cheese, salmon mousse and some kind of dessert on our first night in Paris. And I had my first Kir Royale drink. Very delicious.

    Loved the Musee d'Orsay. Most of the people in my tour group wanted to eat at an American food restaurant or was it fast food place? I went across the street and had chocolate crepes with strawberries. I also had yummy coffee - or was it cafe au lait? The waiter was very kind. Yes, I sat outside. Even if I was Deaf and pointed at the menu, they were great! I also had my french English dictionary just in case. I remembered some of my French school lessons.

    The Louvre was lovely. We were in Paris for two and half days. Not enough time to visit more places. When my Mom went in 1962, I think she spent a week in Paris? Her tour group were in Europe for 11 weeks!

    So sorry about you catching Covid. A relative and her husband travelled to Colorado and no one was wearing masks. They were the only people wearing masks. Took tests and no covid! whew!

    Hope that you are feeling better!

    Already preordered your Paris in Peril. Hope that we will see more of Jago, the new love of Belinda's. I also pre-paid for the book too.

    Diana

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    1. I always have Kir Royals in France! Love it! I’m glad your relatives survived! I wore my mask most of the time and still got it

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  17. Rhys, 50!!!! Big congrats!! I'm so sorry you caught covid in Paris. The only place to be sick is *at home*. I do love Paris. The patisseries and charcuteries to devour. REAL croissants. The chic Parisian women to envy. The Seine, so romantic to walk along at sunset. Sigh.

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    1. Yes, being sick in a hotel room was not fun, especially as I didn’t feel really bad. Just an annoying cough. But I couldn’t go out

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  18. Congratulations, Rhys! I'm in all of your output over the past 25 years - Will I sound too sappy if I say you're my inspiration? And congrats on PERIL IN PARIS - all of us who are huge fans of Lady Georgie are in our happy places today.

    I haven't spent enough time in Paris to have preferences or stories; however, I can comment on the French and their scarves. When Youngest was in middle school, we hosted a French exchange student for 6 weeks. He was a lovely young man, exquisitely polite, delighted to experience American culture, and popular with everyone he met. This was in the winter, and as you might imagine most people in Maine wear scarves for warmth. The first morning he and youngest were headed off to school, he shrugged on his coat, picked up a long scarf, and wrapwrapwrap: suddenly he looked like a professionally styled Ralph Lauren model.

    I've been wearing scarves of all sorts for decades, and I couldn't do it like that. There must be something in the Gallic genome.

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    1. Julia, my mom used to say that if she tried to wear a scarf, she would look as though she was trying to nurse an injured shoulder!

      DebRo

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  19. My scarf would go wrap wrap mummy

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  20. Rhys,
    Congratulations on number fifty! I can’t wait to read it; I can really use a dose of Georgie and Darcy right now! I can’t afford to travel outside of the US, so I enjoy seeing other countries through the eyes of the characters in my favorite books!

    DebRo

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  21. Rhys, huge congrats on #50!! You are truly an inspiration to us all!! I'll be raising a glass to you and to Georgie on Thursday evening (virtually) at Murder by the Book!

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    1. I’m so excited and really must thank you when you’ve just arrived home!

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  22. Whoa! Congratulations on #50. That is awesome. And congratulations on your speedy recovery from COVID. Looking forward to visiting Paris with Georgie and Darcy.

    I'm not a fan of big cities, foreign or domestic, but my most wonderful memory of Paris dates back to the 1970s. My mother-in-law and I had flown over together and while we were there, Paris was hit with a heavy snowstorm. It was gorgeous.

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  23. Jolie Paris…I hope to go back next year. Last trip was 2019. I’m always tempted to re-visit favorite places, museums, parks. But I need to save time for new discoveries, for stumbling into a tucked away alley with a perfect little shop or cafe. Chestnuts in paper sacks in the fall, lavender ice cream in summer, intense espresso standing at a zinc bar to start a winter day, and a croissant to dip into cafe creme at a sidewalk table mid-morning. Paris never gets old, always has a surprise for me. Je t’aime Paris! Meanwhile…50 crime novels! You are simply amazing.

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  24. Congratulations, Rhys!!! That’s fantastic. As you know, I love Paris and am so looking forward to reading Lady Georgie’s latest adventure!

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  25. Congrats! That's quite a milestone.

    I just finished this book last night, and I enjoyed it.

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  26. I pre-ordered your book. I can't wait to see what Georgie and Darcy are up to in Paris! Congratulations on 50 books. That is wonderful.

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  27. Wow, 50! Way to go! Good to know you are healing well :)

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  28. Sorry I'm so late today, but it's been a bit hectic. My husband and I had escaped getting Covid, but today my husband tested positive for it. He's under the weather with sore throat and cough, but he's not too sick. I hope that continues. We've had all the shots except for the extra booster, which we were planning on this month.

    So, on to Rhys and 50 books! What an accomplishment! I can hardly wait to have Peril in Paris in my hands. I'm always ready for a Georgie read.

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    1. I hope your husband is willing and able to isolate until he tests negative. Stay separate, including bathrooms, and he should stay in one room for at least five days. You don't want to get Covid, because you can never predict when it will be severe. I hope your husband has a mild case.

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    2. Kathy, tell him to take the Paxlovid. It stopped my symptoms instantly and John never had any

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    3. I'm letting him sleep in his bedroom tonight, but I think I'll make him stay in the TV room the rest of the nights. I'm trying to keep him from using anything in the kitchen, but it's taking some repeating of rules. Hahaha! We are using different bathrooms. His doctor didn't want to give him the Paxlovid and he didn't want to take it. Something about it being hard on your liver, but plenty of people take it.

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    4. Paxlovid does not make the virus leave your body faster. My husband took it and got the rebound of
      the virus in his system. My husband never had any symptoms. He kept testing positive for fifteen days. Your husband should wear a mask too, I hope it is over for you quickly!

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