Sharing the metamorphic journey of a woman experiencing the adventure of having her first-born, author Kirsten Lobe’s memoir Paris, Baby! is an entertaining, honest ride for her readers as her frank, hilarious and cut through the small-talk descriptions are a refreshing change of prose.
The author of novels Paris Hangover and French Trysts, Lobe begins her tale in Paris where she has been living as an expat by way of Wisconsin-Tokyo-Manhattan for the past eight years. With her appreciation and vast knowledge for fashion, the arts and Frenchmen, she doesn’t wait for any initiation and promptly places her readers at the scene of the famed French pastry shop Ladurée where her description of une grande meringue au chocolat and macaroons covered with creamy ganache are enough to cause an impulse airfare purchase to Paris tout de suite.
The fact alone that she is in a pastry shop seemingly wanting to devour more than just a petite nibble is enough to set the stage for her introduction to her life of a soon-to-be single mother living in Paris.
The narration that won readers over in Paris Hangover returns as she infuses a constant comparison of her American upbringing with her adopted and beloved new home, as well as omni-present appreciation for the opposite sex and a the Frenchmen’s love of feminine beauty in all of its stages. But as her reality begins to welcomingly change, she focuses her love and adoration towards her son Oscar. And it is this complex struggle that all mothers have in some capacity or another that Lobe shares first-hand with her readers – the loss of your former life, however, fully and utterly devoted and in love with your child; an instantaneous lioness-like protectiveness of your child and frustration with those who don’t understand it, at the same time realizing that prior to being a mother, ignorance was a very valid excuse admittedly made by the same said mother.
Ultimately, the conflict that must be resolved is whether to raise young Oscar in the City of Lights or in her hometown suburb Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. And with a hard-fought argument for both sides and many lists in which she shares with her readers, holding nothing back (some may take offense, but I found very refreshing and true to Lobe’s style), the readers will be left uncertain until the last chapter.
While I won’t give away her decision, her goal on how she hopes to raise her child is based on her now Alzheimer’s stricken mother who Lobe deservedly praises throughout the book – to be a mother who nurtures her child’s innate choices and gives him the belief that what he feel is of value, unique and meaningful.
Lastly, mothers will find one, if not many, scenarios to commiserate with, and while Lobe’s depictions are something to absorb for women without children, she blatantly points out that such a life is impossible to imagine until you’re living it.
But for now, Paris, Baby! is a grand way to experience motherhood as it is full of laugh out loud worthy anecdotes, sincere insights and impressive flashbacks on a few of her single life experiences. In the end, however, you will still be able to savor your sleep-filled nights.
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Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin