Paris, 1990s. Carefree, confident and curious about the world around her, Juliet takes leave from her comfortable existence back home and embarks on a journey to Paris. Her goals are to perfect her French, find a job and have exhilarating adventures in Europe for a year or two.
Chronicling her story from an idyllic childhood in a Toronto suburb to France where she lives and works today, we follow Juliet—first to Montpellier to study French at Paul Valéry University only to end up in the role of French housewife at the age of 24—and onwards to Paris where she discovers the city and its residents, hunts for a job and an apartment, works in an advertising agency and then at Reuters, all while rollicking adventures—romantic and otherwise—are thrust upon her.
Readers are regaled with a banquet of laugh-out-loud anecdotes: a zany job interview and a hilarious typing test; an encounter with a movie star in a Deauville restaurant; finding herself barred from entering the USA while attempting to visit her boyfriend in New York; unwittingly eating horsemeat at a dinner party; sequestered in a police van with six French cops and her girlfriend, Roxanne; sucker-punched in the Paris metro; and many more. A feminist, Juliet finds France to be a deeply patriarchal and sexist society, and the women acquiescent.
At the book’s core are Juliet’s loving and successful parents. She plans to return home and to them, and settle permanently. But when her father suddenly dies, and her mother six years later, her world comes crashing down.
An Accidental Parisian documents the breakdown of a once-felicitous family.
In a searingly candid exposé, the author recounts the emotional and financial abuse she suffered at the hands of her older sister (and her sister’s co-conspirators) in the aftermath of their mother’s death.
The book is called An Accidental Parisian because it was never the author’s intention to live abroad for so long. In an endeavor to understand how this happened, she must cast back to her beginnings—and her parents’ beginnings—and piece together the forces, choices and circumstances that brought her to where she is today: a French national and citizen of three countries, still living and working in Paris.
Joyous, funny and, in the final chapters, sad, this story is about Atlantic crossings and new beginnings, learning French and adapting to new cultures while facing multiple challenges and perplexities along the way. It is also about rock-solid worlds that crumble overnight, belonging and then unbelonging, the illusory consolation of family bonds, and never going home again.