5 Books That Will Take You To The Heart Of Paris

Guest post written by author Jade Beer
Jade Beer is an award-winning editor, journalist, and novelist who has worked across the UK national press for more than twenty years. Most recently, she was the editor-in-chief of Condé Nast’s Brides. She also writes for other leading titles including The Sunday Times Style, The Mail on Sunday’s YOU Magazine, The Telegraphthe tattler wedding guide, Glamor, Stella magazine, and is one of the Mail on Sunday‘s regular fiction and nonfiction book reviewers. Jade splits her time between London and the Cotswolds, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.


Which Paris will you pick? From the refined elegance of Dior’s world to the formality of the British Ambassador’s residence and the Gothic backstreets of Montmartre, if you’re missing travel, these books will take you to the heart of Paris!

THE FASHIONABLE MYSTERY
The Last Dress From Paris by Jade Beer
Part fashion treasure hunt, part family mystery, this story delivers Paris twice. Once in the (almost) present day of 2017 and, in alternating chapters, in the 1950s. Thirty-two year old Lucille is sent to Paris by her grandmother and asked to retrieve a couture Dior dress that she wore there in 1953. But almost as soon as she arrives, Lucille realizes her grandmother has been economical with the facts. There starts an increasingly romantic dash across the city, retracing where not one but eight Dior looks were worn. Through Lucille’s eyes we see a modern day Paris, one that feels a long way from the life of Alice Ainsley, the young wife of the British Ambassador to France and also a lover of Dior’s collections. Desperate to break free of the constraints of her loveless marriage, Alice embarks on a thrilling affair in the 1950s that will take her all over the city for secret rendez-vous. Eventually the two timelines collide with deeply felt consequences for everyone. The book launches seventy-five years after Christian Dior unveiled his first Spring/Summer collection at 30 Avenue Montaigne, the same address where Lucille begins to understand who she really is.

THE ROMANCE
Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes

Nell is forced to travel to Paris alone when her boyfriend Pete misses the train they should be boarding together in London because he’s ‘stuck at work.’ This forces a voyage of discovery as Nell, reluctantly initially, embraces the challenge of surviving the world’s worst romantic weekend, determined she is ‘going to be Parisian.’ From the simple task of getting a taxi alone from the Gare du Nord to negotiating a double-booked hotel room and eating alone in chic French cafes, things take an upward turn with the arrival of local Frenchman Fabien. This is an escapist tale of foreign romance played out in the galleries, gardens and avenues of Paris with a tick list of all the major attractions.

THE WHODUNNIT
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

A darker, more Gothic version of Paris, set for the majority of the action inside an old and at times claustrophobic apartment block in the disorientating back streets of Montmartre. Jess arrives at her brother Ben’s address de ella to find him missing and when he stays that way, everyone else becomes a potential suspect in his disappearance de ella.

Foley shows us a wealthier Paris, where the apartment’s residents hold glamorous parties, cover their walls in expensive art, and fill their cellar with vintage wine, while staff ensure the building and grounds are well tended. But hers is a seedier Paris too. Nightclubs that are a front for something far murkier and corrupt authorities who can’t be trusted. Foley’s Paris doesn’t feel safe, you wouldn’t want to wander its streets alone but as she says herself you may well love watching her characters get their just desserts.

THE COMEDY
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy

Let’s confidently predict that from the first turn of the first page, you will laugh out loud at Sally Jay Gorce’s romp around all the most glamorous cocktail parties in Paris. Readers have been since this novel first published in 1958. Sally Jay, a 21 year old American graduate and aspiring actress falls in and out of love and in and out of bed with various suitors, her her ‘vague nymphomania’ her getting her into increasing trouble in the city of lovers. She wears evening dresses through the morning streets of Paris, dyes her hair bright pink, there’s plenty of Pernod and Champagne-fueled gossip and all the mistakes you might expect from someone so young and ambitious. Dundy’s tantalizing approach to Sally Jay’s characterization is brilliantly persuasive: ‘When I got stuck, I would say to myself. What would I not do? and then I would have Sally Jay do it.’

THE MEMOIR
Dior by Dior: The Autobiography of Christian Dior

What could possibly be more Parisienne than a tell-all insider guide to life within the most famous fashion house in Paris, written by its founder and couturier. From the ground-breaking days of that first New Look collection, through all the exquisite details of the couture dress making process, the gruelling hours and lifestyle of the mannequins who showed them (and were wonderfully allowed to borrow dresses from previous collections) to the privileged clients who wore them and the powerful all-knowing women who helped mastermind the fashion empire, Dior satisfies every question you may have – all set to the backdrop of the city he loved. If you have never considered a trip to Paris, you’ll be booking it by the time you turn the final page.

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